Marketing Students Tackle Super Bowl Assignments
Mar. 1, 2011
Super Bowl XLV and cold weather were big topics last month, and three UT Dallas marketing students got firsthand management experience dealing with both.
Mike Aldas, Rufy Garcia and Leah Torres worked as area managers for the NFL Experience for two weeks before the big game. Held at the Dallas Convention Center, the family-oriented event offered interactive games, autograph signings, football-making demonstrations by the Wilson Football Factory, live entertainment, the NFL Shop and a chance to view the Vince Lombardi trophy as well as a Super Bowl ring exhibit.
Alda, Garcia and Torres supervised a large group of volunteers organized by the NFL Host Committee. “We had to make sure the volunteers were where they needed to be and knew how to move the crowds along at each game,” said Aldas, a senior marketing major in the School of Management.
The only problem was that many volunteers were no-shows – even on days the weather was nice. On the first Sunday, Aldas said, “there were 327 volunteers scheduled, and only 82 showed up. Rufy, Leah and I stayed on for three more hours — working a total of 11 hours that day. At the end of our managing shift, we became the volunteers — shagging balls and getting them back to the front. It was grueling, but we know it was appreciated.”
The area-manager positions were paid internships for the three, who planned to skip most classes for the two-week assignment. However, due to all the snow days, they didn’t miss many. And two things they learned on the job were that in the real-world workforce, “snow days” are nonexistent, and getting to work sometimes requires patience and flexibility.
The big question while the trio worked: Would they be invited to the Super Bowl? They were selected to staff the kids’ activities at Cowboys Stadium prior to game time, but no one informed them whether they would be allowed to stay and watch.
Julie Haworth, director of the School of Management’s new undergraduate marketing degree program, alerted students to the NFL Experience opportunity. “I saw the marketing internship listed by Party Planners West,” she says, “and said, ‘Our students could do that.’ I announced it in class and posted it at the career center.”
About 500 college students from around the country applied, but only 55 were selected.
Aldas, Garcia and Torres are officers with the UT Dallas chapter of the American Marketing Association (AMA@UTD), an organization that Haworth oversees. Aldas is vice president of social events; Garcia is vice president of marketing; and Torres is vice president of sports marketing.
Haworth speaks highly of all three. “Mike is a great promoter, and Rufy is wonderful in putting a complicated case in layman terms. And Leah has been great at homecoming publicity.”
The Super Bowl “will be great to put on their résumés,” Haworth adds. “It will set them apart.”
Aldas says he is interested in a career in promotions and has gotten off to a good start by helping promote campus activities, such as last fall’s homecoming.
Garcia, who also assisted with homecoming publicity, is a senior double majoring in business management and marketing. “I’m in AMA, thanks to [Ms. Haworth],” Garcia says. “She was very enthusiastic about AMA and saw it as an opportunity.”
A junior marketing major, Torres says NFL Experience attendance neared 30,000 on pleasant days, but numbered much less during the cold snap. The internship was a good opportunity for her, she says, because of her interest in sports marketing and advertising. “I like the creativity that comes with advertising,” she says.
Her favorite NFL memory was seeing famous people, particularly Jeromey Clary, an offensive tackle for the San Diego Chargers. “I’ve been a Chargers fan all my life!” Torres says.
So … did Aldas, Garcia and Torres watch the Super Bowl in Cowboys Stadium?
Not exactly. Despite being bused to work outside Cowboys Stadium, the threesome never made it inside.
However, they were given admission to the VIP tent, Aldas says. “This is where all the celebrities arrived on the red carpet. We enjoyed free food and bevs, and watched the game from the ‘party plaza,’ where the public had to purchase tickets for $300.”
To top it off, they got Super Bowl XLV jackets, reminders of where they were when the Packers and Steelers came to town.
The story was reported and written by free-lance contributor Harriet Blake.