While a student at Purdue, Stephanie Mathes knew she had an interest in the sports industry. But she had no idea how that might translate into a job she would enjoy.
Then, in the summer of 2004, Mathes began an internship with the Indiana Fever, a WNBA team. She was placed in the community relations department.
"To be honest, I didn't realize teams had departments solely focused on community outreach," Mathes said.
Through this internship, Mathes learned an immense amount about the job and realized that a community relations position was a great fit. Upon her graduation in 2005, she was offered an internship with the Indianapolis Colts as community relations assistant. In June 2010, all that work as an intern paid off when Mathes was named Director of Community Relations for the Colts.
In this position, she is responsible for overseeing the charitable efforts of the team. These efforts include donations, non-profit partnerships, and community programs, events, and appearances. Mathes' job covers a wide array of areas, allowing new opportunities to constantly be presented to her.
"One of the things I love about my job is that there is no 'typical' day," Mathes said.
One day may include preparing for the Community Tuesdays program. Colts players are taken out into the community every Tuesday during their season in order to complete community service projects or participate in charitable events. For this, Mathes and her department are responsible for the planning of events, creation of press materials, and organizing what players will attend.
Mathes also oversees the community ticket block program on game day. As part of this program, players and coaches for the Colts donate tickets to underprivileged youth in the community.
In addition, Mathes' department is responsible for the upkeep of the content on the community portion of the Colts' website; for creating and distributing press materials for community events; and for keeping Colts' media outlets informed of such community outreach efforts.
"Not only do we want to be engaged with the community and be an active corporate citizen, but we also want to raise awareness for the programs and causes that we support," Mathes said.
Being a member of the Colts family had its perks when the Colts won Super Bowl XLI.
"Our team owner, Jim Irsay, had generously flown the entire staff down to Miami, and we were all able to celebrate together. It was a cold and wet day, but I will never forget the feeling when we won. It was absolutely exhilarating," Mathes said.
To this day, Mathes remembers the amount of dread and anxiousness she would feel when assigned another speech or paper as an undergraduate; however, it is these assignments that led her to where she is today.
"Through my position, I believe I have the best of both worlds. I get to work in the fun, fast-paced and demanding sports industry while also being able to give back and work with many wonderful charitable organizations," Mathes said.
Her first days as an intern with the Walt Disney Corp. were spent taking tickets from park visitors and even parking their cars. But Amanda Vincent, B.A., 2009, worked her way up in the ranks and recently was named Communication Coordinator for Events at Walt Disney World.
Shortly after she graduated, Vincent packed up her life and drove down to Florida to begin the College Program at Disney. She spent six months taking college courses and working at the main entrance of the theme park.
This program led her to a professional internship in Guest Relations at Epcot. Vincent was able to utilize her public speaking skills that she had attained in college to fulfill part of her internship: giving four-hour tours to large groups throughout the Future World section of the park.
Her successful completion of the internship led to the offer of a permanent position: Communication Coordinator for Events. In this position, she works on the Conventions Team as a liaison between clients and the theme parks as part of the planning team for convention activity at Walt Disney World. The park hosts about 5,000 conventions each year.
"I really wanted a role where I could utilize my school work and previous internship experience," Vincent said.
Vincent spends a large part of her days reviewing event proposals for Disney World.
"I review the financials and the timing to make sure we are impacting day guests in the least possible way," Vincent said.
In addition to these reviews, she also handles all special requests made by companies for their various events.
"For example if company XYZ wants to start their event at Indiana Jones TM Stunt Spectacular! outside of the pre-arranged guidelines, we may have to cancel the last show of the day. I would submit the request to the leaders at Disney's Hollywood Studios for approval," Vincent said.
Although Vincent dreaded giving speeches in her public speaking classes at Purdue, she now realizes just how beneficial they were, allowing her to successfully fulfill her job today.
"I have had to give multiple presentations in front of my team (100+ people) and park leaders," Vincent said.
Vincent said she's had numerous memorable days on the job. One of the most memorable was when she spent time working the "Let the Memories Begin" press event at the Magic Kingdom, Vincent said. At this event, media from across the country had an exclusive invite to experience the new castle show for the first time.
"The Let the Memories Begin event was particularly memorable because I was able to see the reaction on the press's face while viewing the debut of the castle show. It was great to be able to see my team's hard work come to fruition."