SPMA conference provides first-year students with edge for success

SPMA 1P94 students at the conference / Samantha Daniel

Where do you want to be in the next eight months? Four years? 10 years?

This past Saturday, first-year Sport Management students were offered the opportunity to participate in the “Professional Development” conference. Eight different guest speakers from the sport industry attended, all graduates of Brock’s Sport Management program. There was also keynote speaker Jonathan Wood, a former CFL linebacker for the Toronto Argonauts. He was excited to come and speak to the Sport Management Class of 2021 due to the reputation of the program.

“I got to meet Dr. Julie Stevens, Kirsty Spence, Lucy Thibault … I believe in what they’re doing, they’re super passionate about the students,” Wood said.

In his address, Wood wanted to draw attention to career planning, and tried to emphasize how lucky the students in the audience were to have this opportunity.

“If you start thinking about where you want to go, you’re going to start seeing the different things that add to your vision or to what you want. You’re going to recognize them much sooner and take advantage. Take in, absorb, learn, talk to, build relationships as much as you can. There are so many resources and so much knowledge [at your disposal]. You have the ability to build relationships with your peers, teachers, guest speakers. That doesn’t happen everywhere.”

The students were eager to be able to pick the minds of the young professionals that were in their shoes only a couple of years ago.

“The conference was definitely eye-opening into the sport industry as a whole. The speakers were very knowledgeable on their industry and showed that hard-working individuals will achieve their goals,” said first-year Sport Management student Braden Morrison.

The speakers were happy to come back to their alma mater and bestow some wisdom. Shauna Bookal is serving in the role of Campus Recreation & Facility Coordinator at Centennial College. The Sport Management (class of 2005) has also held key roles for events, including; 2016 NBA All-Star Weekend, 2015 Toronto Pan / Parapan American Games Organizing Committee; 2015 FIBA Americas Women’s Championships, 2014 FIFA U20 Women’s World Cup Championships, 2012 Ontario Summer Games, and 2012 Canadian Volleyball Open Championships.

“We didn’t know what we were getting into in the industry when we first started because when people first hear sport management, they assume you’re playing sports or working for a professional team. There’s so much more that you don’t know. If we had this during my first-year, it would have given us a better insight into what we were getting into. It’s a very small industry, so always stay true to yourself and be humble.”

The conference (a mandatory portion of the SPMA 1P94 class — Professional Engagement in the Sport Industry) has become a highlight in the first semester. Students are required to wear business attire, are provided with a binder and a chance to take a professional portrait. This professionalism was a theme throughout the day, which was what Dr. Stevens had in mind when conceiving this conference.

“One of the themes in our course is around employability. The goal of the conference was to facilitate students speaking with people in the industry about the skills and the strategies that they feel are most important for them once they graduated. I started teaching Professional Engagement (in the Sport Industry) five or six years ago. Because Brock has such a strong experiential learning education program, I basically came up with this idea as a way to put theory into practice.”

Stevens hopes the conference will prepare students to enter this tough industry once they graduate.

“I’d love for them to feel confident about their ability to: reach out to the industry, think about their potential, and areas of the industry that interest them. Then they can go after it. “

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