A group of NIU students enjoyed more than a victory when the Chicago Bulls took on the Washington Wizards last Wednesday, March 20, at the United Center.
About a hundred students and faculty from the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Department of Kinesiology and Physical Education in the College of Education and the University Honors program traveled to the Windy City for the inaugural Chicago Bulls Career Day, a unique behind-the-scenes experience to meet the team who supports the Bulls off the basketball court.
“The career day with the Chicago Bulls was a highly successful example of how collaboration across academic departments, colleges and among units on campus results in a great career learning experience for our students,” Jack King, director of student professional development for the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, said.
The day began with an arena tour followed by a career panel discussion facilitated by NIU associate professor and director of Graduate Studies, Steve Howell. The Bulls staff –representing positions like marketing, corporate communications, public relations, digital marketing and ticket sales – participated in the panel and shared real-world experiences and practical advice with the group.
“It was valuable for students to hear from career professionals and the consistent message from the members of the panel about how to create a career search strategy,” King said. “In addition, their tips to stand out as a candidate were valuable for the students in attendance to hear regardless of major or career interest.”
Graduate student Allison Einhouse, who is graduating in May, said the practical advice was very timely since she is currently looking for a job.
“I gained a lot of insight into the hiring process of professional sports and what managers are looking for in a candidate,” Einhouse said. “They emphasized the importance of networking, capitalizing on gaining experience in your specialty and not taking shortcuts on applications.”
Howell shared the sentiment.
“One of the most important parts of getting a job in the sporting industry is developing and cultivating relationships,” Howell said. “Affording students the opportunity to meet and interact with industry professionals – as well as seeing what goes on behind the scenes – has been central to our graduate program and will be an integral part of our undergrad programs moving forward.”
For NIU junior Edgar Lopez, who was attending his first NBA game, the event was both fun and informational.
“Aside from the game and the team’s win, I really enjoyed the Bulls staff panel,” Lopez said. “The staff was straightforward and transparent with the challenges [they faced] getting to where they are today as well as challenges they face daily.”
“I enjoyed listening to some members of the Bulls’ front office team speak about their careers and how they ended up where they are today,” Einhouse said. “Each of them had a different path which made their advice relatable to everyone.”
“The event exceeded my expectations,” Glover said. “It was a great opportunity for our students and they represented the university really well, asking great questions and making the most out of the entire event.”