Graphic Design Editor
For many students who embark on internships far away from their hometowns or Springfield College, they are introduced to a much different environment than they are used to. Sometimes this can be a challenge for them as they take extra time to adapt to their new temporary homes.
For Mike Becker, however, he was able to take on a rewarding summer internship at a site that offered him new opportunities, but was at a location and work environment that was strikingly similar to Springfield College.
Becker, who is a Sport Management major, completed a required 480-hour internship during the summer with the University of the Pacific Athletic Department in Stockton, Calif. Becker had previously applied to the University of the Pacific for undergraduate school, so he was already fairly acquainted with its culture. After contacting some personal friends who lived in the Stockton area, Becker decided to pursue a paid summer internship with the University’s Athletic Department.
“I was looking to go to Pacific as an undergrad, so I knew the school that way,” Becker said. “I emailed and then called Jim Dugoni, the athletic director whom I worked under. After talking with him, I got the internship.”
With a passionate interest to work with either high school or college students in the sports industry, along with his personal connection to Pacific University, Becker knew he had selected a potentially rewarding internship site.
“I love everything about sports,” Becker said. “I want to work with college-age kids. If I could work with them and help them out in sports, I’d love it.”
Becker flew out to Stockton, Calif. just a few days after school ended in May and returned to his home in Pennsylvania in late August. During the three and a half months that he spent in Stockton, he did not once go home.
As an intern, Becker had several assignments. His major project involved planning for a major athletic fundraiser event called the Orange & Black Ball. It was a banquet dinner with over 650 guests that raised $146,704 through ticket sales, silent and live auctions and raffle sales.
Becker was responsible for creating the auction guides, soliciting local businesses to donate raffle prizes and making flyers to promote the event.
“It was so much fun seeing what I worked my whole summer for come to fruition,” Becker said. “It actually happened, and everything went pretty smoothly.”
Becker connected the Orange & Black Ball with Springfield College’s Annual Golf Classic fundraiser that helps support the school’s 24 varsity teams.
“The Pacific Athletic Foundation’s Orange & Black Ball is much like the Springfield College golf tournament,” Becker said. “The purpose of the Orange & Black Ball, other than being a great community event to celebrate Tiger Athletics, is to raise money for the Pacific Athletic Foundation. At Springfield, all the proceeds from the golf tournament go towards the athletics budget as a whole. This then helps pay for each sports trip, meals, equipment and so on.”
Dr. Ken Wall of the Springfield College Sport Management & Recreation Department was Becker’s faculty internship supervisor. He was in constant communication with Becker throughout the summer and also noted the similarity between the two events.
“Both these are events sponsored by the development arm of the athletic office,” said Wall. “Whether it be Division-I at the University of the Pacific or Division-III at Springfield College, both institutions view these particular events as being very important and significant in terms of welcoming alumni and friends back to the college and allowing these people to find a significant way to support their athletic program.”
Other duties that Becker performed during his internship included dressing as the Pacific Tiger mascot at local athletic events such as summer games and minor league baseball games, and developing funds for the Pacific Athletic Foundation by calling and speaking with potential donors.
Becker, who is a member of the men’s volleyball team at Springfield College, noted how similar both school’s athletic departments were in terms of their functionality and work ethic.
“[Pacific] is a smaller Division-I school, but you can tell the emphasis is on athletics there,” Becker said. “It’s kind of like Springfield College. All their facilities were nice and many were renovated.”
He also found geographic and on-campus similarities between the two institutions.
“The first [thing] that I noticed was definitely its location. You felt very safe while you were on campus, but the town was not the most pleasant to be in. It’s much like being on campus here, but knowing to be careful when you leave campus and enter the city of Springfield.
“The campus is really nice, too. They take care of their trees and grass, just like Springfield.”
When Dr. Wall came to visit Becker at his site, which is a required component of the 480 -hour internship, he was greeted warmly, just as Springfield College greets its visitors.
“I was duly impressed by the hospitality that was shown to Mike Becker,” Wall said. “It was also extended to me as faculty supervisor. Jim Dugoni not only spent time with me, but he wanted to learn more about Springfield College and its Athletic Department.”
Outside of University of the Pacific, Becker was fortunate enough to easily find a place to reside for the summer. Becker knew of an old volleyball teammate who recently graduated and lived in the Stockton area. He was more than willing to let Becker stay at his house for the entire summer.
Just as Springfield College stresses the importance of networking, Becker was able to meet several individuals who can potentially help him in his future endeavors.
“It sets up my future,” Becker said. “I made a lot of connections. Everyone out there was really friendly.”
Becker has considered applying to University of the Pacific after he graduates in the spring.
“I’m debating being a GA for them,” Becker said. “They have spots opening up in their marketing and promotions department. I’m thinking about going to graduate school and Pacific is my number one choice this far.”
With a promising future, Becker will surely take all that he has learned from his experiences both at Springfield College, and the University of the Pacific, and apply them in his eventual job search or selection of a graduate school.
“In another year, Mike is going to join the ranks of Springfield College alumni,” added Wall. “We have alums working in every state in the United States. Mike gained a glimpse into that wonderful network. He is going to continue to use that network and grow it through his whole professional career.”