In March of 2015, an announcement was made stating that the Cleveland Browns and University of Findlay were joining forces to establish exclusive opportunities for students to gain hands-on experience and mentorships within the Browns’ organization. This initiative was formed to improve students’ ability to succeed in the sports industry. Two years later, UF has alumni who have scored remarkable careers all over the world and students continue to gain significant hands-on experience with the Browns.
In the announcement of the of the partnership, Dr. Katherine Fell, president of the University of Findlay said, “This partnership is about two strong organizations coming together to build a pathway to careers in the sports industry, enhance student experiences and give Findlay students the edge needed to get into this competitive career field.”
Since then, UF has had 15 students intern, 141 students volunteer, and four students benefit from scholarships through the Browns Scholar Award. UF students have volunteered at draft parties and on game days, worked training camps, assisted with marketing and media, helped with fan engagement, and gotten their feet wet with corporate partnerships.
Most importantly, students have developed skills necessary for their respective areas of study and gained valuable connections within the professional sports industry.
“As a University, we strive to connect with the community and create as many opportunities as possible for our students to experience their areas of study in action,” said Ed Recker, interim vice president for enrollment management. “The Browns Edge Program is one way we are succeeding in this mission and we look forward to seeing more students in the program graduate, and dive into fruitful careers.”
In celebration of UF’s two-year partnership with the Cleveland Browns, the University is highlighting some alumni who give credit to the Browns Edge Program for providing them with knowledge and skills that led them to their careers.
Jenna Jesko ‘15
Sport and Event Management Major
Career: Sales Assistant for Disney Destinations at Walt Disney World
While studying at UF, Jenna Jesko served as one of the first special events interns through the Browns Edge Program. She worked closely with coordinating the 2015 Cleveland Browns Training Camp, Orange & Brown Scrimmage in Columbus and preseason games.
“Being a part of this program was an asset to my success. My goal coming out of college was to work in professional sports or the entertainment industry for large corporations,” said Jesko. “Having the National Football League and other well-known brands on my resume like Major League Soccer and Major League Baseball allowed me to stand out against other individuals going for the same position.”
Jesko recalled one of her favorite memories of the internship was when her team received the highest recorded level of satisfaction for any Browns fan experience and events to date. She also explained that in the Browns Edge Program she learned that the tedious job tasks in the can be crucial in the execution process and every person is vital to the organization’s success.
“Ever since college, I’ve always had a motto to make a difference in an individual’s life through experiences they will never forget and want to keep reliving,” explained Jesko. “Here at Disney, I have a chance to do that on a daily basis.”
Jacob Miller ‘16
Public Relations Major
Career: Content Developer at TenPoint Crossbow Technologies
Jacob Miller found himself on the Cleveland Browns field filming practices and preseason games in his internship with the Browns’ content development team in addition to editing pieces for the Browns’ website, social media, and two local television shows it produces. Miller explained that the internship broadened his abilities as a film producer and taught him how to network with other professionals.
“I learned how to build professional relationships that are meaningful to the careers of all parties involved,” said Miller. “They are so much deeper and more valuable than a simple connection on LinkedIn.”
Miller’s Browns internship contributed to his success in landing additional internships and his current position at TenPoint Crossbow Technologies where he develops a variety of marketing content ranging from video and photography to weekly blogs.
“Even in my current job, I still communicate with the guys from the video department at the Browns,” said Miller. “No matter how hard you try you can never build a network in the classroom the way I was able to through something like the Browns Edge Program.”
Haley Gray ‘16
Marketing and Sport and Event Management Major
Career: Digital Account Executive for PCG SportsDesk Media
Haley Gray also served as one of the first special events interns through the Browns Edge Program, which led her to a seasonal community relations position with the Browns following graduation.
Now at PCG SportsDesk in Chicago, Gray works with UF alumna Joanna Sabato ’07 who helped develop the Browns Edge Program while she served as the Browns’ Corporate Partnerships Manager.
“We work with sport and entertainment properties to drive digital, innovation and sponsorship strategy,” Gray explained. “Most recently, our team put together strategy for the Chicago Cubs and the ‘Stephen Colbert Show.’”
Gray continues to work with the Cleveland Browns and various partners including Hendrick Motorsports, which consists of NASCAR team Dale Jr., Chase Elliott, Kasey Kahne and Jimmie Johnson; FELD Entertainment, which includes Supercross, “Disney on Ice” and more; Chicago Bears; Cleveland Cavaliers; “Funny or Die”; Big Ten Network; and more.
“The Browns Edge Program truly kick-started my career in sports and provided me hands-on learning opportunities I wouldn’t have been previously exposed to,” said Gray. “Findlay’s vision to equip its students for meaningful lives and productive careers, combined with the Cleveland Browns’ willingness to provide students with experiential learning, is what launched my career in sports today.”