University of Findlay seniors Jacob Hanzlik and Colin Emert grew up in northeast Ohio as dedicated Cleveland Browns fans. On Nov. 4, Emert and Hanzlik, along with their families, went onto the field in front of a packed FirstEnergy Stadium during the fourth quarter of the Cleveland Browns and Kansas City Chiefs game to be recognized for receiving the Browns Edge Partnership Level 2 scholarships. Hanzlik and Emert received $5,000 each for completing internships, volunteering with the Cleveland Browns and submitting a superior 500-word essay that reflected on their internship experiences and how it will help them with future professional endeavors.
“I’ve been to multiple Browns games for work and been on the field multiple times, but I’ve never been on the field with my family,” Hanzlik said. “And I’ve never had my name come across the loudspeakers in front of 40,000 or 50,000 people at the game.”
The University of Findlay partners with the Cleveland Browns to provide a clear path for students interested in working in the sports industry. Through this partnership, students have the first choice of volunteer opportunities, internships and one-on-one networking meetings with executives in the Browns organization. Both Hanzlik and Emert became involved with the Browns Edge Partnership their freshmen years, taking advantage of every opportunity given to them. They interned for the Browns, volunteered at games, attended networking events and even developed a friendship together.
Hanzlik came into college knowing he wanted to work for a sports team, but did not know exactly what he wanted to do for them. He began volunteering during game days his freshman year, which led to more experiences and opportunities with the organization. Emert heard about the Browns Edge Partnership during a campus visit and decided to apply to the University of Findlay. “I’ve been a Browns fan my whole life,” Emert said. “I grew up in the area. I’m a fourth generation Browns fan, and I’ve always wanted to be in sports, so what’s a better opportunity than this? Other colleges that I had visited had nothing compared to this.” During his first semester, Emert was involved in the Browns Career Development Summit, where executives from the team came to campus to discuss the different opportunities with the program.
According to Hanzlik and Emert, the experience they have gained from the program is valuable for their future careers in the sports industry. “The networking has been crucial,” Emert said. “These connections are going to last beyond college, if you keep up with them. Everyone knows everyone in the sports field, so when you do really good with this team, there is going to be a higher up opportunity with another team.”
Emert and Hanzlik not only networked with executives and Browns staff, but also met each other through the partnership, and eventually formed a friendship. When Emert came in as a freshman, Hanzlik already had been part of the program for a year. Emert looked to Hanzlik for advice on things he should try or attend. They eventually started planning to attend Browns events together, got the internship together and even started the Sport and Event Club (SpEC) club on campus. “Anytime anyone says, ‘Browns Edge Partnership,’ I instantly think of his name. It was a friendship that became combined with the partnership,” Emert said.
The summer internship at the training camp really brought them closer as friends. “It’s kind of like an instant bond. You don’t know them. You might have seen their name, but when you’re trying to meet all your fellow interns for the first time, and it turns out we’re both from Findlay, it breaks down a wall and you feel more comfortable with them almost immediately,” Emert said.
To anyone considering becoming involved with the partnership, Hanzlik recommends talking with someone who has gone through the partnership before to get some insight on what it’s like. Emert’s recommendations are jumping in and taking advantage of networking right away. “Don’t hesitate. If you wait, other people are making those connections when you’re not. You don’t want to lose out on some great opportunities,” he said.
Through making connections with the organization, they’ve seen how important it is to work for a company that creates a culture of fun and purpose. While the work is challenging, Emert said the difference is working with people who love what they do and like to see the people around them doing the same. Hanzlik thinks the partnership helps open the eyes of students to the concept that there are “avenues you can go down where it’s not work, but it’s about having fun and doing something you love for the rest of your life.”