Penn State Sports Business Club Giving Students Hands-On Experience In Sports Industry

At Penn State, sports mean so much more than just throwing and catching a ball.

The greater Penn State sports environment offers students the opportunity to experience what happens off the field and to connect with student-athletes and representatives for professional athletes and organizations as well. At Penn State, many of these experiences are offered through the Sports Business Club.

As a freshman at Penn State, Dylan Hausner was looking for ways to get involved around campus. He joined the Sports Business Club, and even though meetings were run virtually, he felt the energy and inclusion of the organization right from the start. The Sports Business Club taught him more about sports business, why it’s an important industry, and how it interested him.

“They would bring in speakers most weeks,” Hausner said. “People who work in the sports industry, they get to talk about how they got to where they are and what they’re doing now and provide some very valuable advice on sort of how to break into the sports industry, which is not something you may necessarily learn in a classroom. There’s a lot of learning going on outside of the classroom.” 

Within the club, Hausner joined a marketing committee that was in charge of social media and graphics. He continued his hard work within the internal committee and was promoted to its leader his sophomore year. Afterward, he became the vice president of student development within the organization, where he got to work on different projects entirely. 

“One of the things I’m more proud of for our club is our alumni mentorship program,” Hausner said. “So basically, any one of our speakers or anyone that’s connected to our club in any way, whether they be Penn State alumni or speaker alumni, they get matched to a student and sort of becomes their mentor. We’ve had a lot of success with this as far as building kind of a one-on-one relationship.” 

With continued hard work and determination, Hausner was elected the president of the Sports Business Club for his senior year. 

“It has been an incredible ride,” he said. “I got to meet a lot of great people, see people grow into different roles, and I think that’s been the best part of everything. I’ve learned a ton and it has been super, super valuable to me.” 

Similarly to Hausner, when Devon McGill first arrived at Penn State, she was looking for organizations to join. McGill’s experience within the club has been invaluable as she learned the ins and outs of the different fields one can enter in the sports industry. McGill started on the professional development committee in her first year and helped coordinate speakers for the club and moderate the meetings with those speakers, making sure the right questions were asked.

She explained that some of the other important things her committee did specifically were resume building, learning about LinkedIn, and helping with cover letters and interviews. McGill was on the professional development committee for her freshman and sophomore years, and in her junior year, she became the director for special events on the executive committee. 

“I was in charge of really growing our community beyond professionalism within the club, something that I take a lot of pride in and I am very proud of,” McGill said. “I think we’ve grown a lot socially as a club. Before we were very business professional, almost strictly professional. I think we like to have a lot of fun, you know, sports fans are really competitive. So holding events that really allowed people to get to know the people around them, become friends, and build a sense of community where the executive board isn’t different from our general body members.”

McGill was elected and advanced to the position of vice president of club operations, which was her role this year as a senior. She discussed how much of her job entailed connecting and scheduling speakers for the club. 

“We have speaker meetings almost every Tuesday at least three to four times a month. We’re bringing in speakers relatively consistently from all areas of different sports industries, whether that’s going to be sales or marketing or even broadcast journalism,” McGill said. “We’re really trying to give our members a wide variety of the different possibilities that are out there for them in the industry.”

Some of the speakers the organization has met with are Jim Ivler of the National Football League Players Association (NFLPA), Dr. Erkut Sogut, the agent for German soccer player and World Cup champion Mesut Özil, and Dior Ginyard of the popular online sports retailer Fanatics, who was also listed on the 2018 Forbes 30 Under 30 in Sports. 

Hausner and McGill also talked about the importance of the Sports Business Conference, which was held on March 21 and 22. This year, the event was attended by recruiters for the Pittsburgh Penguins, Philadelphia Eagles, New Jersey Devils, and Pro Football Focus as well as representatives from Penn State Athletics. 

“I’ll say there was a lot of preparation in advance,” Hausner said of the production of the conference. “For example, we had resume reviews a month before so people can tidy up their resumes. We also had a LinkedIn workshop so people could learn how to use LinkedIn and update their profiles and what to post, and what to include on their profile as far as skills or background experience. Then we had an elevator pitch practice… I think that’s another beautiful thing about the club.” 

“We do have a really big underclassmen presence within the club,” McGill added. “So I think it’s important to tailor to them and teach them what a resume should look like and how to have a LinkedIn presence and how to execute a good elevator pitch because when you’re going to the conference, you’re talking to these recruiters and you’re trying to make connections, and maybe get an internship or a job out of this event. So as much preparation as we can give them is what we tried our best to do, and I think we saw an immense level of confidence going into that conference from a lot of our freshmen and sophomores.” 

Another extremely important part of the Sports Business Club is its involvement in THON. This year, both Hausner and McGill danced in the fight against cancer for 46 hours, and the organization raised $24,234.12. Hausner credited the club’s THON chair Will Robinson and the club’s value of teamwork that led to its contribution for the kids. 

“We have a new THON family that we just visited last weekend and got to spend time with their three and two-year-old kids and that THON experience was a huge part of our experience. Devon and I were close before and we’re even closer now because of it so it was amazing,” Hausner said.

“It was really special to be paired with a THON family this year,” McGill said. “To be dancing on behalf of them, it just makes it that much more meaningful. We met them for the first time in person at THON and got to play with the kids, and we had an epic water gun fight where we were both drenched by the end of it. It was my favorite highlight of the weekend, and it just made it that much more special.” 

The Sports Business Club meets every Tuesday from 7 to 8 p.m. in the Chambers Building. The organization can be found on Instagram or through its website, and folks interested in joining can email Hausner or McGill

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