Sports and Recreation Management students score ‘touchdown’ for networking event

Hundreds of University of Iowa Sports and Recreation Management students gathered at the IMU on Friday, to meet and network with industry professionals to further their career opportunities.

Attendees+participate+in+speed+networking+during+the+Sports+and+Recreation+Management+Symposium+in+the+IMU+on+Friday%2C+September+6%2C+2019.+%28Katie+Goodale%2FThe+Daily+Iowan%29
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Sports and Recreation Management students score ‘touchdown’ for networking event

Attendees participate in speed networking during the Sports and Recreation Management Symposium in the IMU on Friday, September 6, 2019. (Katie Goodale/The Daily Iowan)

Attendees participate in speed networking during the Sports and Recreation Management Symposium in the IMU on Friday, September 6, 2019. (Katie Goodale/The Daily Iowan)

Katie Goodale

Attendees participate in speed networking during the Sports and Recreation Management Symposium in the IMU on Friday, September 6, 2019. (Katie Goodale/The Daily Iowan)

Katie Goodale

Katie Goodale

Attendees participate in speed networking during the Sports and Recreation Management Symposium in the IMU on Friday, September 6, 2019. (Katie Goodale/The Daily Iowan)

Chloe O'Connor, News Reporter

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An increasingly popular University of Iowa program is paving the way for undergraduates who aspire to break into professional sports.

Undergraduate students in the growing UI Sport and Recreation Management program had the opportunity to network with professionals in their field on Sept. 6 to enhance their ability to find jobs in the future.

More than 600 students attended the event, which the Faculty Committee of the Sport and Recreation Management Department hosted, to allow students the opportunity to network with professionals specifically within their industry.

“A lot of times when you’re dealing with sports and stuff, it definitely helps to know somebody in that field,” said UI freshman Jack Burns, a sport and recreation management student. “It’s pretty hard to get into just coming in off the street.”

Often in the world of professional sports, Burns added, it is difficult to get a job without pre-existing connections to others in the industry. He mentioned that those hiring look for people with experience in the business or playing the sport in question.

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Event organizer Alex Voss said industry professionals who presented at the symposium included many UI alums from across the U.S., as well as representatives of many local organizations such as city Parks and Recreation departments and the Iowa Speedway. 

He added that the symposium has evolved since its origin.

“We have seen immense growth,” Voss said. In the 2011-12 academic year, he said there were around 100 students in the symposium’s first year. 

UI alum Tony Price, who now works to oversee Recreation, Fitness, and Wellness Services at University of Colorado at Boulder, was among the industry professionals at the symposium.

Price, an Iowa City native, frequented the Field House located on the West Side of campus. After spending much of his time there, he was offered odd jobs with the UI Recreation Services. These jobs gave him an “in” to work in recreation at Boulder later in his career.

He specifically thanked the National Intramural Recreation and Sports Association, as well as the UI, for the opportunities that led him to collegiate recreation.

“I was meeting folks from around the country and creating those national connections,” Price said. “There’s a ton of opportunities to interview for internships, assistantships, as well as full-time jobs.”

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Price credited the UI for setting him up with a career, citing the importance of networking lessons such as the symposium last weekend.

“Iowa helped set me up,” he said. “They exposed me to all these folks and ultimately helped me network.”

Sport and Recreation Management lecturer Packy Moran said the department’s goal is to allow students to learn through practical experience and interactions with industry professionals. 

Moran referred to the business as “an applied field” — meaning that the symposium allows students to build the skills they will need in their careers through meeting with and learning from industry professionals. 

“Sport and Recreation Management’s hallmark is experiential learning,” Voss said. “And while this isn’t a class on theories or topics, this is very much an opportunity to bring the industry to students to allow students to have a ‘home game.’ ”

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