Working on the Sidelines with the Minnesota Vikings

Working on the Sidelines with the Minnesota Vikings

Working on the Sidelines with the Minnesota Vikings

A new partnership with the Minnesota Vikings public relations department gives talented BVU communications and media studies students the opportunity to experience the excitement and responsibilities of working with the news media on home game days.

“The internship program was developed in order to enhance the Vikings game day experience for our media and our staff by having press box assistants who are qualified college students pursuing degrees in related fields.” says Jeff Anderson, Class of 2003, who is the assistant director of public affairs for the Vikings. “At the same time, the program connects the team to multiple universities in the area while allowing students a chance to build their resumes and be around people who have been in that position and have gone on to be successful.”

“The majority of NFL front office personnel began their careers as interns and worked their way up,” says Jeff, who initiated the idea for the program for students from BVU and several Minnesota colleges and oversees the intern selection process. “I tell our interns to take pride in every responsibility they have with the team because they never know who is going to notice.”

As a junior corporate communications major at BVU, Jeff interned with the Vikings in 2003 during the university’s January term, the first BVU student to do so. Since then a few other BVU students have interned in January, but the new program is the first internship specifically for game days. Jeff also interned with the Vikings after graduating from BVU and then, after a stint working for the former NFL Europe organization, was hired by the Vikings full-time in 2005.

Jeff credits the efforts of three faculty members with making the Vikings internships an important opportunity for students — Dr. Beth Lamoureux, Class of 1983, professor of speech communication; Jerry Johnson, Class of 1985, and Jamii Claiborne, Class of 1996, both assistant professors of media studies.

BVU students selected for the game day pilot program last fall were Tyonia Zimmerman, a senior corporate communication major from Storm Lake; and Jason Jacobs, a senior media studies major from Melvin, Iowa. To earn academic credit, they had to work at five of the home games.

“We had to be at the stadium three hours before kickoff and then after the game worked about two hours to get quotes from coaches and players and prepare media packets,” says Tyonia, who has been a lifelong Vikings fan.

She found the internship to be a valuable networking opportunity. “I met many of the top people in the Vikings PR organization,” she says. “They knew me by name and knew I am from BVU and that I play on our softball team. They asked me how my experience had been. They cared and it showed.”

Lamoureux, who attended the Nov. 22 game against the Seahawks to see how Tyonia and Jason were doing in their internships, says “I was most impressed with the access our students had to the press and the players during the press conferences, not to mention the incredible hands-on experience. It was an experience of a lifetime for me and what an opportunity for Tyonia and Jason who lived it all semester.”

At the close of the season, the Vikings PR staff planned to evaluate the game day program to see how it can be improved, says Jeff.