Campus News News

Jackie Rice “Flies” with the Philadelphia Flyers

Photos courtesy of Jackie Rice.

Matt Vaghi

Graphic Designer

While most students were trickling back onto campus last fall for yet another semester of classes, senior Jackie Rice ven­tured out to the City of Broth­erly Love to embark on perhaps one of the most valuable and beneficial learning experiences of all: an internship.

Rice, a sport management major and Maine native, chose to do her 480-hour required in­ternship from September 2011 to January 2012. With a pas­sionate interest for a career in the professional sports indus­try, Rice decided to do her in­ternship with the Philadelphia Flyers organization with a con­centrated focus on marketing.

“I am interested in profes­sional sports,” said Rice, “not necessarily hockey, but any­thing I can get hands-on ex­perience with. I knew the Fly­ers organization is very well known, so I knew it was going to be my best bet to go with them.”

Although the Springfield College sport management de­partment plays an instrumen­tal role in assisting students with internship opportunities via their extensive network, Rice had a personal connection with the Flyers. One of her friends knew Peter Luukko, the President and Chief Operation Officer of Comcast-Spectacor. The company owns the Phila­delphia Flyers and manages the Wells Fargo Center as well as several community skating rinks around the Philadelphia and New Jersey area, known as Flyers Skate Zones.

Rice, a marketing intern, had several responsibilities not only for the Flyers, but for the Flyers Skate Zones. One of her daily tasks was to design fli­ers that promoted events at the Flyer Skate Zones such as open skates, local youth tourna­ments and figure skating. Rice also had to upload these fliers onto the Skate Zone website, which was a brand new skill that she had to learn from the IT department. Surprisingly, Rice’s supervisor, who was the Marketing Coordinator for the Flyers, allowed her to learn and develop her skills on the fly rather than teaching them to her directly.

Rice, however, had outside guidance from Professor Kath­ryn Shea of the sport manage­ment department, who was assigned to be her internship advisor. Shea would call Rice at the beginning of every week to touch base and discuss how the internship was going.

“She figured it out,” said Shea. “That’s another advan­tage of an internship because you’re going to be asked to do so many different things that you’ve never been asked to do before.”

“I had full range of a lot of responsibilities,” said Rice. “My supervisor basically threw me in the deep end and said ‘go.’ I thought this was bet­ter, though, because I actu­ally learned rather than sitting back and watching someone else do it.”

This empowering manage­ment style that Rice utilized provided a positive learning experience and seemed to have the same impact on the full-time employees in the office that she worked in.

“The organization culture of the office was pretty laid back,” said Rice. “I was sur­prised but not in a bad way. Ev­eryone was very friendly and seemed like they were having a fun time. At times, they were stressed out, but for the most part, everyone seemed very re­laxed.”

Despite this laid-back en­vironment, Rice had a gruel­ing work schedule that truly challenged her. In addition to working in the marketing office five days a week from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., she worked Flyer game days running a table set up to promote the Flyer Skate Zone. She clocked in approximately 600 hours over her five-month internship period.

Another challenge that im­mediately arose upon her arriv­al in Philadelphia was her liv­ing arrangements. Rice found a 10-girl apartment that had an opening for one more right on the outskirts of the Univer­sity of Pennsylvania. Adapting to these new living conditions was difficult at first, but Rice was able to settle in nicely and also explored the beautiful city of Philadelphia during her free time.

Among her favorite mo­ments during her internship was training camp, autograph day and the 2012 Winter Clas­sic, which took place on an out­door ice rink setup in Citizens Bank Park.

“Training camp was the first week of my internship,” said Rice. “I’ve never been a part of training camp so it was awesome to see it from the be­ginning to the end.”

Autograph day, where Fly­ers’ players sign merchandise for each organizational depart­ment, was another tantalizing moment that Rice will never forget.

“I got to meet the whole team. All of them had to come to our table and sign at least one thing,” said Rice. “I got to meet Claude Giroux, which was unbelievable because he’s so well-known. I also met Danny Briere. It was amazing to meet them and see their per­sonalities off the ice.”

Rice was also involved in some of the marketing facets involved in the 2012 Winter Classic. One of her best memo­ries was offering the marketing department her own feedback on a commercial that was being produced for the Winter Clas­sic game featuring the Flyers’ affiliate team, the Phantoms, playing the Washington Capi­tals’ affiliate team, the Hershey Bears.

“I got to see the commercial from the beginning to the end and I was able to give my input. We went down to the editing room, and I was actually able to see the whole thing before it was even aired.”

Without a doubt, Rice gained incalculable firsthand experience in the field that she wants to pursue. Although she would ideally like to work in the NBA, she understands how tough it is to acquire a job in today’s market.

“Now since I have the con­nection they know who I am,” Rice said. “I definitely would apply for a job because I al­ready have my foot in the door, and it would give me a bump ahead of other people applying for a job there.”

Professor Shea also stressed the importance of having con­nections in the field upon grad­uating from college.

“With sport management, it’s not necessarily who you know, it’s who knows you. By being able to make an impres­sion with someone in the field, you’ll have a better shot to be recommended for a future job.”

Matt Vaghi may be reached at mvaghi@springfieldcollege.edu

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