Bri Funte, left, and Kylie Swanson at Mall of America Field
Bri Funte knew early on the value of internships and the importance of gaining real-world experience to affirm her career goals.
This past academic year, Bri, a junior digital media major from Osage, has had two internships with professional sports teams – the Minnesota Vikings and the Omaha Lancers hockey team.
"In college, you have the chance to learn what you like and don't like," says Bri. "You're allowed to test the waters and find out what you want to do professionally, so I've always been interested in pursuing as many internships as possible. Having had two great internship experiences, I know I am headed in the right direction."
Before Bri began attending BVU, she had heard about BVU's partnership with the Minnesota Vikings public relations department which began in 2010 and gives students the opportunity to experience working with the news media on home game days.
"One of the reasons I decided to go to school at BVU was because I knew about the Vikings' game day internship program," says Bri. "It was my dream to work with an NFL team, and it quickly became my ultimate goal to land the internship."
While attending a scholarly Academic and Cultural Events Series (ACES) event as a freshman in 2010, Bri introduced herself to Jeff Anderson, Class of 2003, who spoke at the ACES event about finding internships. At the time, Anderson was the assistant director of public affairs for the Vikings and he is now the director of corporate communications.
"I was very nervous, but my professors strongly encouraged me to talk with Jeff in order to create a possible future contact," Bri recalls.
Soon after meeting Anderson, Bri contacted him to seek career advice and inquire about the Vikings internship as part of a project for her University Seminar class – a course designed to help incoming students successfully transition to BVU.
"The assignment planted the seed about the importance of networking," says Bri. "I chose to get in touch with Jeff because I knew he was in the type of position that I aspired to."
After applying for the Vikings internship in spring 2012, Bri found out she had been accepted for the following fall along with fellow BVU students, Kylie Swanson, a senior English and media studies double major from Coin, and Michael Ivey, a junior sports management and marketing double major from Storm Lake.
As a game day intern, Bri recorded and transcribed press conference interviews, managed the media check-in table, and helped maintain communication between press boxes.
"One of my favorite parts about this internship was working closely with the players," says Bri. "My post-game responsibility was to record and transcribe quarterback interviews at the opposing team's press conference. The opportunity to hear from coaches and players was surreal, but I always had to keep the end goal in mind and not let my excitement get in the way of my responsibilities."
Bri also interned this past January with the Omaha Lancers where she had the chance to assist with game night operations including coordinating intermission and media timeout activities. Bri also put together media packets, updated the team's social media accounts, and helped plan and implement special events.
"We can do a lot in the classroom for our students, and we can add to that with our hands-on student media organizations to supplement classroom learning, but we cannot replicate the professional media world inside our walls and halls," says Jamii Claiborne, associate professor of digital media at BVU. "The value of internships is that students can take what they've learned on our campus and test it out in those work settings."
"So many students change majors before discovering what they really want to do, and I'm lucky that I chose the right path," says Bri, who is working on securing another professional sports internship for the fall 2013 semester. "My internships have opened my eyes to all of the available career opportunities in my chosen field."
"The goal of any internship is to learn on multiple levels," adds Claiborne, who helped Bri coordinate both internship experiences. "Bri, in particular, has found her passion in sports communication and public relations. She's gained relevant, hands-on experience, of course, but she's also gained confidence and focus, a real poise and professionalism."