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College internships a key to future career success for local students

David Glasier | The News-Herald

For Nadia Lee, Ricky Hayden and other young people with defined career aspirations, college internships are more than productive ways to pass the summer months.In separate interviews, both said their internships are critically important components in plans to turn those aspirations into reality.

Lee is a Georgia resident and 2017 graduate of Lake Erie College in Painesville. After getting her degrees in political science and Spanish, she started in May as a research intern at the Painesville office of the Lake County Ohio Port and Economic Development Authority.

She has been accepted into Boston University’s law school and has her sights set on a career in education policy.

“At this point, an internship is a necessity,” Lee said. “Everybody is getting a degree now. You have to stand out and internships allow you to do that. Everybody I know has an internship.”

Hayden, a Euclid resident, graduated from Bowling Green State University in 2015 with degrees in sports management and general business. Planning one day to be a senior sales account executive for a professional sports franchise, he started in March as a ticket sales intern with the Lake County Captains, the Class A affiliate of the Cleveland Indians based at Classic Park in Eastlake.

“This is my foot in the door, without a doubt,” Hayden said. “Everything I’ve learned here has made me more determined to have a career in sports management.”

Lee’s internship pays $15 per hour. She applied for it in February at an internship fair held at Lake Erie College.

“If you’re going to do policy work, it’s about establishing connections and getting your foot in the door,” she said.

The projects Lee has worked on since her start date have included a study of senior housing availabilities and costs in Lake County and creating the printed program for the July 6 groundbreaking ceremony for the Lake Health Miracle League Field and Lubrizol Inclusive Playground in Eastlake.

“I thought this internship would give me the chance to see how government really works, and it’s done exactly that,” she said.

Hayden’s applied for his internship through Teamwork OnLine (teamworkonline.com), the highly successful digital recruiting resource based in Shaker Heights. His internship also is paid.

Captains General Manager Neil Stein said the team’s pay structure for interns “is a monthly stipend which is around minimum wage depending on the specific job each intern has.”

The tasks assigned to Hayden since March have included tickets sales and processing of ticket orders, answering telephone calls and interacting with fans on game days.

“I’m learning how this business works and how to work with other members of a front-office team,” Hayden said. “The experience I’m having here exceeds my expectations. “

The people for whom Lee and Hayden are working this summer have personal histories with internships and speak to their value in getting careers off the ground.

Peter K. Zahirsky, director of coastal development for the Lake County Ohio Port and Economic Development, had four internships while working toward a master’s degree in public administration at Cleveland State University.

“I got this job in January 2014. That probably would not have happened without the skills I acquired and the network of contacts I developed from those internships,” Zahirsky said.

Stein majored in sports management and business administration at Baldwin-Wallace University. He got his start in the business in 1999 as an intern for the Canton Crocodiles semi-professional baseball team. An internship with the Toledo Mud Hens, the Triple-A affiliate of the Detroit Tigers, led to him being hired by the Mud Hens. He joined the Captains in 2008 as assistant general manager and became general manager in 2016.

“The internships changed my outlook on this business,” Stein said.

JB Greer is 24 years old and the senior manager of engagement for TeamWork Online. The company was founded in 1999 by Buffy Filippell, whose career began in 1978 as the first female sports agent hired by Cleveland-based International Management Group.

Greer said he had internships during his undergraduate days at Xavier University in Cincinnati.

“I don’t think it’s ever too early to explore internship opportunities and learn what’s out there,” Greer said.

TeamWork Online works with all the major professional sports leagues and has arranged over 100,000 candidate-employer matches, a good number of them internships.