Student Internship Spotlight: Katie Wight

Name: Katie Wight
Year: Senior
Major: Honors Business Administration, concentration in Sports Business
Internship: Business Operations Intern, Atlanta Dream, Atlanta, Georgia
Internship Dates: Summer 2015

Katie Wight is a senior sports marketing student in the Lundquist College of Business. After graduation, she plans to work in the sports business industry. She and other interns at the Atlanta Dream had a well-rounded experience and learned more about the ins and outs of the sports business industry. Learn more about her internship experience, her suggestions for a job search, and advice for other students.

The above photo was after the Dream Pink game at a live auction, the proceeds of which were donated to breast cancer awareness and research. Katie Wight is seated next to Laurel Richie, who was president of the Womens National Basketball Association at the time of the photo. Richie stepped down from her position last fall.

What was the structure of your Atlanta Dream internship program?

The internship was structured differently for each intern depending on their availability. Some were with the Dream for the entire season (May – September), while others were there for the part of the season when they weren’t in school. This flexibility was great for someone on the quarter system because it allowed me to start in June and then work until the end of August.

The Atlanta Dream has several departments, each of which had interns working for them. Each intern reported directly to the manager of that department. However, because the WNBA is still a relatively small professional league, the staff is very integrated. As a result, while a majority of projects were under a single department manager, it was still necessary to work with every department. This integration was invaluable experience in working with others on projects and also making connections with more people in the sports industry.

Describe your internship role and responsibilities.

Initially, I applied to be a corporate partnership intern, but after a week, I met with the General Manager and was moved to be an intern for the executive team, which included the GM, the COO, and the Manager of Finance. Because of the change, I became involved in a project with nearly every department, but I was specifically under Business Operations.

While in this role, I had myriad responsibilities and was often treated as an employee and was relied upon to complete necessary tasks to prepare for games and events. I worked in ticket sales, business operations, marketing, merchandise, finance, corporate partnerships, and gameday operations, and had separate smaller tasks in each of these departments. Overall, I had four primary consistent responsibilities throughout the entire internship.

First, because I was working for a WNBA team, I had gameday responsibilities. I was at every home game and either helped corporate partnerships, marketing, or the executive team with their gameday responsibilities.

At the office, my main project throughout the summer involved helping create, maintain, and build an inventory management system on Microsoft Excel. This involved tracking merchandise, sales, and cost of goods sold, among other things. Each week, I had to make sure that this was up to date and to build in any additional components required. I also completed a weekly reconciliation to ensure we had recorded inventory and sales correctly. I was then able to calculate weekly revenue and profit. The first half of my internship was largely spent helping to develop the inventory tracking model, while the second half included two other main projects in addition to keeping up with inventory and sales numbers.

The other two projects that I spent significant time on were gameday checklists for each department and the corporate partnership newsletter. For each game there were a lot of small tasks that each department had to complete, so I compiled a list of these tasks so each department knew what it had to finish before the next game. I also designed the monthly corporate partnership newsletter that was sent out to all corporate partners of the Atlanta Dream.

Because changes are constantly occurring in professional sports, I had to be ready to take on any task that was assigned. Often, trades were announced before a game or we had to completely change the plan for a game, so I just had to be flexible and ready to take on any task that was assigned.

What did you enjoy most about your internship?

I am passionate about women’s basketball and my dream is to work in the WNBA and hopefully one day work for the league headquarters. I have always been a fan and student of the sport, so I loved being behind the scenes of the WNBA. I was able to learn about the business behind the league and the sport itself. It inspired me to continue to pursue a career on the business side of the WNBA and also inspired to me think of ideas about how the WNBA can improve and expand in order to increase the awareness and support for women’s basketball.

Furthermore, I really enjoyed working in a variety of different departments and roles because it gave me a better idea of what I want to do after I graduate. I also really enjoyed working with all the staff at the Dream as well as the players. As someone who has always followed the sport, it was amazing to be able to meet some of my favorite WNBA players as well as the WNBA President at the time, Laurel Richie.

What was challenging about your internship?

The biggest challenge about my internship was the pace and expectations. The interns were definitely expected to complete tasks and assignments that often had a direct impact on the team. Thus, interns were held to a high standard. Also, because the team was in the middle of its season, the work environment was fast paced, especially close to gamedays. Often changes had to be made or new information arose at the last minute and interns had to be flexible and ready to complete any task. This definitely held everyone to a high standard, but through this structure I learned so much and was required to develop creative solutions and greater problem solving skills. Even though I was incredibly busy, I loved working for the Dream and had an incredible experience in Atlanta.

What were some strategies you used used to get and prepare for the internship?

Make sure to get involved in campus groups you’re interested in and make connections with students, faculty, alumni, and companies. Your network is vital in helping you find an internship that you will enjoy and that will help you gain experience. If there’s an industry or company that you want to work for, see if someone who works there is an Oregon alumnus and reach out to do an informational interview with them. Many alumni are more than willing to help students and might be able to help you refine your resume or interview skills. In addition, you will learn more about the company or industry from an employee’s perspective. I learned so much from the informational interviews I completed and made incredible, long-lasting connections that helped me find my internship with the Atlanta Dream.

In regards to preparing for the internship, I would definitely recommend refining your Excel skills. I worked with Excel and spreadsheets throughout my entire internship and having a background was incredibly useful. Furthermore, go into your internship with an open mind and be willing to work hard and learn from your experiences. You might not be interning at your top choice, but you can still learn a great deal and make life long connections during an internship. Also, be prepared to be put in unfamiliar or uncomfortable situations. This experience is new and there will be times that you are unfamiliar with what you have to do. Come up with creative solutions, problem solve, and don’t be afraid to ask for help or clarification.

What advice do you have for other students?

Follow your passion and apply for internships in industries in which you want to work, but also don’t forget to apply for other internships. It’s important to follow your dreams and apply for an internship with your dream company, such as the WNBA for me, but also know that other internships can be just as valuable and can lead you to your dream career. Your internship is a time to learn, grow, and challenge yourself, so just make sure to take advantage of every opportunity and moment.

This Student Spotlight blog post was conducted as a Q&A written interview with Katie Wight.

Written by Karina Padilla

Karina is a senior from Oregon pursuing a B.S. in Business Administration in General Business. She plans to purse a career working in the banking industry.