Oilers gain experiential learning, make connections
By Sarah Stubbs
St. Patty’s Day 2016 marked the one year anniversary of the official announcement of the University of Findlay and Cleveland Browns corporate partnership: Browns Edge.
A select group of students interned throughout the 2015 summer and another group interned throughout the fall football season.
The application process for the 2016 summer internship positions is over; however, there are two internship positions still accepting applications: a foundation internship and a graphic design internship. Interested persons are encouraged to look on OilerNation for the details, according to Phil Gunder, director of UF’s Internship and Placement office.
On a recent installment of Phil Talks, a YouTube video series put on by UFTV and sponsored by PRSSA, Gunder interviewed Scott Grant, assistant professor of business and director of the sport and event management program, as well as four previous Browns Edge interns.
“The Browns Edge partnership is something that is really unique,” Grant said.
Grant said that the Browns Edge partnership started with a simple email from an alum who is currently working with the Browns. From there, conversations and meetings led to several questions. The most important of which, according to Grant, was “How do we integrate our kids into a sport business environment?”
Grant said that it took about six months to flesh out the details of what was truly going to be important to both UF and the Browns. He also said that the partnership UF has established is a unique one because there aren’t many colleges or universities that have direct partnerships with professional sports teams.
The uniqueness of the program, according to Grant, is reflective of the general evolution of internships, too.
Haley Gray, senior and former Browns Edge intern, seemed to agree with that statement.
“It’s not about sports. It’s not about the Browns. It’s about working hard and getting your name out there,” Gray said.
Gray worked in the summer as a training camp intern. She, along with a few other UF students, focused on player-fan engagement and fan engagement in general.
Gray’s internship, along with the six other students was entirely focused on events dealing with training camp. Jake Miller, also a senior and another summer 2015 Browns Edge intern, had a much different internship experience than Gray as he was the videographer intern for the Browns.
“I got excellent hands-on experience in the two different worlds of videography. We did two television shows every week, then we filmed practice, we did community events, we filmed a blood drive, and then it would all go on the Browns’ website,” Miller said.
When the application process was en route last spring for the first wave of Browns Edge interns, Miller thought that he was applying for the same position Gray was. To his surprise, when he got to the Browns headquarters in Berea, he was actually interviewed by the videography arm of the Browns because his talents in digital media were noticed by Browns personnel.
Miller said he wasn’t as prepared as he would’ve liked for the surprise interview, but he’s glad he had that hectic, unexpected experience.
“I had to think on my feet for my interview and I think that made me a better interviewee,” Miller said.
Gray said that she found that she gained more than just experiential learning through the Browns Edge program, too. She said that the relationships that she’s built with other interns and supervisors are invaluable and she actually keeps in contact with these connections on a weekly basis.
Gray is a sport and event management and marketing dual major, Miller is a public relations major, but Grant wants students to know that the Browns Edge internships are not just for students interested in pursuing a career in professional sports.
Students who don’t wish to intern with the Browns at all benefit from the partnership, too.
“The major doesn’t confine this,” Grant said. “There are tons of other opportunities internally where students can get involved.”
Grant said, “Not every kid is going to work with the Browns.”
According to Grant, the other corporate partnerships are key, too. As an example, Smuckers has a partnership with the Browns and Smuckers has their own sports business arm, Grant said.
Other than the internship programs, the Browns Edge partnership offers a Browns Summit event in the fall where Cleveland Browns executives visit campus to teach students about career development.
The Browns Edge partnership also offers two $10,000 scholarships to one underclassman and one upperclassman who show a passion and initiative to work in the sports industry. The first recipients of this award were Miller and Heidi Paxson. Miller and Paxson were recognized at the Browns vs. Bengals game at FirstEnergy Stadium on Dec. 6, 2015.
Applications for the Browns Scholar scholarship awards will open up again in the upcoming fall semester.
Grant encourages students to keep checking their emails and keep checking the Browns Edge webpage to stay in-the-know.