The Erie Sports Commission welcomed a small group of Gannon University students Thursday afternoon to talk about its mission and discuss the internship program it offers.
Erin Hart, assistant director of employer relation in the Gannon’s Career and Employment Services office, said that just like any of the site visits the university arranges, the goal is to connect students with local opportunities and employers.”
“We always like when we can get students to connect with an alumnus on the site,” Hart said. “Then they can really explore different career paths, options and opportunities locally for internships and job placement.”
The Erie Sports Commission (ESC) strives to enhance the image of Erie by promoting Erie as the prime destination for sports and recreation. Ron Sertz, executive director, welcomed all of the students who came.
“I especially look forward to talking to you because typically a lot of the interest that we get naturally comes from sports business and sports marketing programs,” Sertz said. “It’s good to also have journalism students and communications students.”
Sertz said that the commission’s job or goal is to create tourism through sports, which helps contribute to the economy. The ESC works with event organizers, for both big and small events, to attract them to Erie as a host city for their event.
Since its formation five years ago, the ESC started out hosting nine events and by 2017 that number has grown to 58 events. All events are weekend-driven, and with only 52 weekends in a year there is typically more than one event being held each weekend.
Sertz works with Mark Jeanneret, events director at the ESC, by traveling around the country six to eight times a year, to talk to rights’ holders and pitch the venues and accommodations Erie is able to provide for sporting events.
“We’re not only looking for events that can bring the most participants to town; sometimes we’re looking at the patrons they can bring to town, too,” Sertz said.
The ESC hopes that by holding events and getting people to come and spend some time in Erie that not only will they enjoy their time here, but that they’ll also remember it as a place to come back to in the future.
Jeanneret helps with servicing the events, once the event and people are brought to town, to make sure they enjoy their stay, to make sure that the event is well-run, and to help find ways to make their event easy to pull off. This provides the ESC with an image of assistance, which makes it easier to get people to come back to Erie again.
Emily Biddle, the ESC’s marketing and communications manager, focuses on promoting the organization nationally for others to know Erie exists. Through marketing, Biddle tries to get people to Erie or to the website.
“The goal is to get people’s attention and be catchy, to stand out,” Biddle said.
The size of the event does depend on what advertising is used, but it ranges from a story in the Erie Times-News to billboards and posters. Biddle also uses social media to help get the word out about any events the ESC is working on.
For anyone who is looking to participate in the commission’s internship program, it’s important to know that you don’t have to be in a sports program or have a background in sports. The ESC needs an influx of young talent who can write, communicate and network with other people.
Young adults should consider all opportunities when looking for internships because even though the ESC is heavily involved in sports, the skills that a journalism student has can be applied just as easily as a sports marketing student’s skills. The ESC looks for two interns for each fall, spring and summer semesters.
Since the ESC is a team of three, they value interns for what they bring to the table. Students who are selected for internships work with everyone on the staff. Those students who are interested in event operations will work more closely with Jeanneret, and those who enjoy marketing and media will collaborate with Biddle.
Interns are not there to complete menial tasks for the ESC. Sertz said the commission treats interns as actual employees who are involved and work as part of the team, because he believes they get a better experience and grow more as an individual.
Paige Groff, one of the journalism communication students who attended the presentation, said that the staff of the ESC was super passionate about their job.
“It was really cool seeing how my major can be used in such diverse ways,” Groff said. “I would never have expected the staff of the Erie Sports Commission to be made up of people who studied communications.”
An internship is a great opportunity to gain experience for future job prospects, and the ESC is just one of many organizations that are willing to help students as they work their way through college to learn a little more before entering the work force.