Imagine watching a theatrical play from offstage, or being part of a live studio audience at the taping of everyone’s favorite sitcom, The Big Bang Theory. It’s not an everyday occurrence, right? You’re witnessing prime entertainment from a wildly different perspective. It’s fun, exciting and entertaining. You’ll get that unique experience with a game operations internship. It’s a job that will let you peek behind the curtain, see how the stage is set and how the show is produced.

So…what will you do? The real question is, what won’t you do? The term ‘game operations’ covers a wide swath of responsibilities and activities. What’s asked of you really depends upon the organization you intern with. The best internships allow you to explore much of what makes up the game operations department—these folks orchestrate everything from in-game music and intermission spectaculars to fan contests, lighting and security. Game operations staff coordinates the happenings on game day, making sure everything runs smoothly from the time fans enter the building to the time the stadium doors are locked.

Leading up to game day, interns stay busy. Update music libraries so tunes are fresh and ready-to-go when it’s game time. The national anthem is a part of all sporting events; book anthem singers in advance of upcoming home games. Fan contests—half court shots, mini bike races, lucky seat drawings—seem simple and whimsical but each one requires careful planning. Order prizes and line up contestants for the evening’s events. Help stage manage for cheerleading and dance teams that need to know when it’s appropriate to hit the court and when it’s time to sprint for the sidelines. Game operations interns may also assist camera operators who need a pair of extra hands to set up the camera and a pair of feet to relay messages and replace faulty equipment. Fans in the stands—especially ones in the nosebleed seats—need to know who’s checking into a game, which relief pitcher is heading to the mound and who has been injured. A game operations intern may be tasked with assisting the team’s public address announcer preparing advertising scripts, organizing the schedule and handling unexpected tasks. You may also help coordinate the cleaning crew and security staff so everyone is well-positioned to handle rowdy, messy crowds as the game progresses.

Much more than this could go into your internship but it’s a taste of what you may experience and shows you just how much you’ll learn about presenting a major sporting event to a crowd of thousands. The best internships will cover game day from A-to-Z and basement to rafters.

But…why should you do it? You love broadcasting and theater. You enjoy producing a show and pleasing a crowd. You thrive on organization and working with others to achieve a goal. And you’re an effective communicator—in both the written and spoken word. Most everyone is eligible for a game operations internship. A degree—just completed or nearing completion—in marketing, sports management, communication, business, or theatre and entertainment gives you the educational foundation needed to work in game operations. Because teams hire interns out of a variety of degree programs you’ll have the opportunity to apply even if sports management isn’t your focus.

The thrill and intensity of working in game operations is tough to match. You’re not on the court making plays but you’ll still be in the thick of the action. Being inside a stadium when the lights flicker on is definitely something to witness. Seeing a stream of people fill an empty stadium is quite a scene. And rushing around the back halls of an arena makes you feel like you have the ultimate hall pass. Whether you’re organizing fan contests, lending a hand in the video production room or guiding the public address announcer through a schedule, being part of the team that creates memorable experiences for fans as well as a world-class environment for players is truly amazing.

And…where will it take you? A game operations internship is one of the best ways to jumpstart a career in sports. It gives you the ultimate stage to show off your positive attitude and excellent customer service. And it will prove to hiring managers that you can be wildly creative while problem solving as well as detail-oriented in your execution of the work. Add this experience to your resume and sports organizations will bump your application to the top of their review pile; unlike others you’ve already proven your ability to succeed within the walls of an arena. Game operations covers a lot of responsibilities making you a well-rounded sports professional that can step into a variety of situations. Build, organize and lead a team that falls under the umbrella of game operations—ticket takers, ushers, guest services, grounds, housekeeping, facilities management, emergency management, information technology. And eventually become a Director of Game Operations, coordinating the many groups that come together to host a sporting event. Or take your experience in a different direction, working for a vendor that supports facility and event management for more than one sports team in your area. It’s a path that can fork in many exciting directions.

An internship in game operations will take you exactly where you want to be—steps from the action and surrounded by others that share your love of sports as well as an appreciate for the stage it is set on. Experience it. Embrace it.  

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