After a wet and chilly walk through Harvard Yard, I finally found Wasserstein Hall and the Ivy Sports Symposium.
Thanks to winning a spot as a member of Sports Networker’s Sports Executives Association, I was able to attend the 8th annual Symposium, which was hosted by Harvard this year. It was this awesome Ivy League institution’s turn to bring together some of the best sports professionals out there today.
My flight into Boston the night before arrived late so I didn’t make it to my hotel room until 2AM, and I was running on nerves by the time I arrived.
But I’m really glad I arrived.
My Experience At The 2013 Ivy Sports Symposium
First, I was blown away by the “swag bag” at the event – it was an And1 book bag. In the bag, a Red Bull was tucked into one of the slots and I took advantage of the free beverage when I started to feel sleepy.
Impressive people to meet
Most of the Symposium is attended by students, and I was very impressed at how serious the students were. They were always lining up to talk with and impress the speakers after each session. I felt relieved that I am not in need of a job, although I would have liked a chance to meet with more of the panel members as well. Each session was almost delayed as it usually took awhile for the last set of speakers to clear out due to all of the networking going on.
I found that it was better to find the speakers later in the day, as several of them stayed to attend other sessions. It was much easier to approach them when they weren’t in a large crowd rushing to get off stage. Using this approach also gave me more time to introduce myself and explain my background.
Many of the sports professionals knew that the students wanted to hear the secret to landing a job in sports, but a lot of them answered honestly by saying that it’s better to have some kind of business expertise, such as accounting, finance, or analytic skills instead of just a generic sports management degree.
They also all similarly mentioned that one should be open to less popular roles such as sales, in order to show how you can add value to an organization.
Impressive keynotes to attend
Like all conferences, there is no way to attend all sessions when there are so many good speakers and talented sports professionals. But I was happy to see there were two keynotes: the morning session discussed Brazil’s upcoming hosting of the World Cup and Summer Olympics, while the evening keynote invited several team Presidents to speak about keys to a successful organization.
During the morning keynote, there was also a “10 Next Class of 2013” ceremony where top sports professionals under 30 were recognized. I was really impressed to see what they all had accomplished and hopefully they were an inspiration to the students in attendance.
My Takeaway From the Ivy Sports Symposium
While I could share all the notes I took, I realized that there was a running theme through all the sessions I attended.
From College Athletics to Sports Marketing to Ticketing, everyone talked about how they are using technology to engage with the sports fan. Even Brazil knows they must improve their infrastructure to help promote their country, and all the Presidents agreed that they must embrace social media and the “second screen” in their stadiums.
Don’t miss the next Ivy Sports Symposium!
If you are a sports management student, this is definitely THE sports conference of the year that you should go to, especially if you attend a school on the east coast. Another recommended time to attend would be as a junior or senior, when you are trying to line up internships or perhaps starting your job search.
Research the speakers ahead of time and pick out a few that you really would like to meet. Be sure to have your question prepared since you will be competing for their donated time.
The networking possibilities are endless and attending this sports conference can help you understand all the different types of jobs you can find under the “sports career” umbrella.
In addition to the rotating Ivy Sports Symposium, it was announced that the First Annual Global Sports Symposium would be held at Emirates Stadium in London, England on May15th 2014. More information can be found here.