This semester, five students majoring in Sport Management at Rice University are interning with the Houston Super Bowl LI Host Committee, getting ready for the signature game in February 2017. The students are Mai Pham ‘19 (Special Events), Jeremy Reiskind ‘17 (Marketing), Pax Kaplan-Sherman ‘18 (Volunteer Programs), Ben Schragger ‘19 (Marketing), and Taylor Scott ‘20 (Logistics and Operations).
When the Host Committee began hiring interns in fall 2015, Tom Stallings, a professor in the Department of Sport Management at Rice, knew he needed to get students involved because of the rare opportunities associated with interning for the Super Bowl. In addition to having an incredibly recognizable brand on their resumes, the interns would have a unique chance to network with contacts from all over the National Football League.
“The Super Bowl Host Committee’s staff is made of people picked off from a lot of different teams and organizations who come with a lot of experience and contacts,” Stallings explained. “The people working there are going to go off in a lot of different directions after the Super Bowl’s over, so they (the interns) have access to a really unique set of mentors.”
In fall 2015, four students majoring in Sport Management interviewed with the Host Committee, and they were all hired: Pham, Reiskind, Kaplan-Sherman, and Sam Levy ‘18 (Marketing). Since then, Pham, Reiskind, and Kaplan-Sherman have returned for their second year of interning, while Levy is studying abroad.
“For me, it was a no-brainer to return to the Super Bowl,” Kaplan-Sherman said. “The work I did last year was very stimulating and I could see the impact it was having. I knew that this would only become more true as the game approached.”
Kaplan-Sherman described his internship with the Super Bowl Host Committee as “everything and anything that has to do with the management of volunteers,” from creating the volunteer application, collecting the applications, developing a scoring system, setting up the logistics of interviewing applicants, and now training the 10,000 selected volunteers and determining where they are needed.
One of those 10,000 volunteers is Kerri Barber, the administrator for the Department of Sport Management.
“I wanted to volunteer as soon as I heard the Super Bowl was coming here (to Houston),” Barber said. “I wanted to be part of one of the biggest sporting events in the world and meet people from all over the country and show them what Houston has to offer.”
Like Barber, Reiskind wanted to work for the Host Committee, in part, because of the grandeur of the event. He gladly returned for his second year of interning because “it is a rare opportunity to work on something as large as the Super Bowl, and [he] wanted to see [his] work through the finish line.”
Reiskind spent his first two semesters interning in communications for the Host Committee, and he now works in marketing. One of his favorite projects was helping launch the Host Committee website by writing copy, selecting photos, and beta testing the entire site. As a senior, Reiskind is the intern furthest along in his undergraduate career. In the past, he interned in sports information for Rice Athletics, managed the Rice Owls Athletics page for Yahoo! Sports, and acted as a media assistant for the 2015 NCAA Houston Regional and 2016 NCAA Final Four Men's Basketball Championship.
The third student returning for her internship, Pham, worked in events and hospitality last year. She helped manage the itineraries for the Host Committee’s lead executives and vice chairs, in addition to presenting research to management and recruiting venues in Houston for a partnership program. She is now interning in Special Events.
“As the Super Bowl is coming closer, I had to narrow my responsibility to helping organize events and not do hospitality too,” Pham said. “It just shows how much work is put into hosting this global event. It’s been great having even more Rice interns there this semester to help out, too!”
Stallings directly credits the outstanding work of Pham, Reiskind, and Kaplan-Sherman last year for impressing the Host Committee enough to hire another Rice student last spring (Samantha Chaiken ‘18, Marketing) and two more this semester. Scott, who is in her first semester at Rice, is an Operations and Logistics intern. She helps write executive summaries, prepare for NFL production meetings, and works with local contractors for events leading up to the Super Bowl.
“I feel so fortunate to be in this position as a freshman,” Scott said. “The work that Professor Stallings does to connect students with internships certainly made all of this possible.”
Like Scott, this is Schragger’s first semester of interning with the Host Committee. He is working in marketing, mainly focusing on creating awareness around Super Bowl VIP hospitality packages and putting together marketing materials that enhance the visibility of these packages. A sophomore at Rice and member of the Owls baseball team, Schragger appreciated the Host Committee’s flexibility with his busy schedule as a student-athlete. He was even more grateful, though, for the office atmosphere.
“The culture at the Super Bowl is amazing,” Schragger said. “We all truly feel like ‘one team.’”
In addition to the five interns with the Super Bowl LI Host Committee, the Department of Sport Management has placed 20 students in internships this semester. For more information about the Department, click here.
Molly Mohr is an alumna of Rice University who double majored in sport management and English and minored in business.