Dear Event Doctor:

We have noticed that more than one university in our area is offering a sports management major for students. We would like to partner with these programs as a possible source of interns and volunteers at events. What’s your advice on the value of utilizing such students, and how should we go about building relationships with academic institutions?

—Back to School

Dear School:

The only people working at events who are more enthusiastic than college students are those who just graduated and are looking for a permanent job.  But, for this discussion, let’s stick to the ones who are still in school.

The wonderful thing about using students is that they can come to you prepackaged as a class, club or team. Let the university do the work of recruiting the individuals and bringing them to you as a group, complete with supervision from upperclassmen and professors. It’s great for the sports management program because it shows the students that they have selected a university that is connected with organizations that can help provide them with training and real-life experience. It’s great for you because you can count on a steady stream of volunteers year after year—as long as you make it a great experience for the students.

Many sporting events use sports management programs as more than just a source of volunteers once the event comes around. The program can also use your event as a case study for research purposes. If you have a particular research need for your specific event, a sports management class can help develop intelligence, identify industry best practices and gauge results for specific performance metrics. This is another symbiotic opportunity—it benefits both your event and the academic institution.

When considering the use of students, don’t limit yourself just to sports management majors at the university. Depending on staffing and research needs, you can also apply the resources of journalism programs to help with media relations and business schools to contribute to market research. In addition, tourism, hospitality and culinary programs can assist in appropriate areas.

This first appeared in Sports Travel Magazine and appears here courtesy of SCHNEIDER PUBLISHING COMPANY, INC.