University of Findlay’s partnership with the Cleveland Browns not only gives students unique business experience while they are in school, but it also provides them with opportunities after graduation. Paige McCort, University of Findlay alumna, completed the Browns Corporate Partnerships Internship in Spring 2018, after graduating in December 2017. The internship eventually developed into a full-time position with the organization as a ticket sales and service coordinator. She calls herself the “behind-the-scenes person” in her department. Some of her job responsibilities include managing the department inventory, organizing the department budget, preparing for incoming inside sales recruits and organizing various trips and events. These are all skills she was able to learn and refine through her internship.
Corporate Partnerships Internship
While McCort did not have a sports background when she interviewed for the internship, Lindsay Strauch, Senior Manager of Corporate Partnership Activation at the Cleveland Browns and McCort’s internship supervisor, said her experience in event planning and marketing set her apart. McCort demonstrated leadership skills and accountability through her previous internship experience and in her extracurriculars, such as Dance Marathon. “For us, you don’t need a sports background, we just need someone we can rely on,” Strauch said.
During McCort’s internship, she worked in the Corporate Partnerships department, which develops and maintains partnerships with businesses. Throughout her internship, she got to experience a variety of different departments and tasks. This included data analytics, event planning, helping with presentations, getting people to where they needed to be in the stadium and helping with a school day program. In every task she was given, McCort went above what she was asked to do and showed an eagerness to learn.
McCort’s motivation, attention to detail and positive attitude set her apart as an intern. Strauch was motivated to want to help McCort succeed because McCort always took the projects she was given as an intern to the next level. “Paige would put her touch on every project,” Strauch said. “It was great to have a fresh set of eyes coming into the department.” When an intern excels at the tasks they are given, Strauch wants to help them because she knows she can stand behind them and be confident in referring them to other companies.
Strauch’s mentorship provided McCort with guidance throughout the internship, making her confident in taking on more responsibility. “She is a wonderful mentor,” McCort said. “Through her guidance, the rest of the team and I have come a long way. She is always there when I ask her for help and trusted me to work on bigger projects than I could have imagined.” With the experience she gained in taking on a variety of responsibilities as an intern, she eventually felt ready to apply for a full-time position.
When McCort initially interned in Spring 2018, there were no open full-time positions. Strauch said no one who interviewed for the Fall 2018 internship compared to Paige, so they offered her the internship again. While McCort was interning in the fall, a full-time position opened up in the Ticket Sales department. The position had a lot of the same responsibilities and tasks that she was already doing in her internship. She felt like she could keep doing her job, so she applied. Strauch helped prepare McCort for the interview and looked over her resume. She said the organization does this for any intern who they believe in and feel went above and beyond, even when they are applying outside of the organization.
The Browns can never guarantee a full-time position to their interns because there isn’t always an open position. However, in cases when they have great interns, but no open positions within their organization, they still try to find openings with other teams. Strauch said that in the sports industry, people have to be willing to move around to find jobs. The organization is willing to help interns do that if they are hard workers.
McCort’s transition from intern to a full-time employee was smooth. She said it helped that she only had to move across the hall and had support from people she had worked with. “The experience I gained from the internship made getting the full-time position easier than not having any connections or experience going into the application process,” McCort said. Deciding to be part of the Browns Edge Partnership and applying for the internship ultimately helped McCort grow and learn to have the skills she needed to get her current position.
Developing UF Students
While at the University of Findlay, McCort received a bachelor’s degree in Special Event Planning and Strategic Marketing. The first experience she had with the partnership was attending the Browns Edge Career Development Summit where executives from the company visit the University to share their experience, expertise and network with students. “The visit days were great because it was nice to see everyone from the different departments and the opportunities they had to offer,” she said. She also talked to students who had volunteered during Sunday game days, since she was unable to volunteer due to a conflict with Dance Marathon meetings.
The Browns Edge Partnership exemplifies a dynamic institutional relationship. In addition to providing Findlay students with volunteer and internship opportunities, people of the organization take the time to show that they care about UF interns and volunteers. “As an organization, we take pride in helping Findlay students develop,” Strauch said. When students apply to the internship and do not make it, Strauch said they like to follow-up with UF students to provide feedback. She also said that when they come to campus, they review resumes with students. Strauch said anyone interested in becoming involved in the partnership or having a career in the sports industry should talk to McCort or someone who has been involved with the program and use them as a resource. Ultimately, it is up to the student to make the most of the opportunities available through the partnership, much like McCort has done.
“I really appreciate the partnership and all the work the professors put into it. Growing up, I could never imagine working for the Browns or even the NFL,” McCort said. “The University of Findlay provides so many opportunities and the professors help so much. If you really work for it and you really want it, they will give you every opportunity they can.”