Working the Super Bowl: The Student Experience of a Lifetime for USF Sport Management Graduate Students

If you want to work at the Super Bowl, be prepared to get out of your comfort zone. From the media to the fans, the players and the staff, Super Bowl week is non-stop! Every day is a new adventure and provides a unique opportunity to quickly develop critical skills. Our alumni have emphasized how important it is to be able to adapt and pivot at a moment’s notice when circumstances change. Mega events like the Super Bowl are fast-moving, requiring everyone to “think on their feet” and “put out fires as new situations arise.” Super Bowl staff and volunteers have to coordinate with the NFL, the network broadcasters, the stadium staff and all other relevant parties to make sure the event goes off without a hitch. The planning and preparation that goes into the event is essential to its success and can be quite intense. 

University of San Francisco Sport Management alumni remember the excitement and energy of the fans passionately representing their teams, seeing all the celebrities in attendance, as well as the buzz in the host city with visitors arriving from across the country.

What Does it Take to Work at the Super Bowl?

“I think having interpersonal skills is really important. I worked the 50/50 raffle for the NFL Foundation, so it required me to go up to a lot of people and sell tickets. Being able to communicate efficiently, and listen to the needs and concerns of my customers allowed me to succeed.” – Nona Rhaburn ‘23

“Know what decisions to make yourself and what needs to be escalated.” This kind of leadership and decision-making is critical, argues Heather Jones, who has worked with Super Bowl XL and Super Bowl 50, and now is VP of School and Youth Services for the Special Olympics Northern California & Nevada. Working the Super Bowl is a collective effort that requires balancing taking initiative with taking direction, solving problems and bringing a positive attitude. 

Anuj Patel, who worked Super Bowl LVI and is currently a Sports Manager with Special Olympics, remembers the pace of work involved: “You are constantly moving and helping people. At times it can get overwhelming because of the amount of people who may need help, but it helped me become faster on my feet and to be able to deal with guest issues more quickly.”

Do Research and Express Interest and Dedication to the Sports Industry Early

The advice from our current and previous Sport Management graduate students is to start early and do your research. Jose Ledesma, who worked Super Bowl LVI and now works in community relations with the Los Angeles Lakers, urges those interested in working the Super Bowl to “set goals a year before the start of the event, make an event calendar with important deadlines, and reach out to people connected to the event six to eight months in advance.” 

Morris Thomas suggests  “Put some thought into it and personally tie it to what the experience would mean to you. Show leadership and distinguish yourself as someone who genuinely cares about the customer experience. Lastly, follow up a few times with whoever your contact is.” 

Nona Rhaburn, who worked Super Bowl LVI and now works with the SF Giants Community Fund, recommends mentioning your Super Bowl interest to existing colleagues: “I would recommend that you build a relationship with bosses/managers because they can refer you to opportunities that will allow you to work events like the Super Bowl. During your position leading up to the Super Bowl, just be determined and be a hard worker because your efforts will not go unnoticed.”

Kaila Cruz, for example, worked the Super Bowl LVI Experience, the pre-game fan festival that happens for about a week before the game, with different activations like autograph stages, trading card stations, draft day simulations and more: “Personally, I liked this opportunity better than working the actual game itself because it allowed me to have more interaction with NFL fans and have a wider range of responsibilities than just working in a single silo on game day.” Kaila is now working with some of those colleagues she met at the Super Bowl LVI Experience in her current season ticket membership sales role at San Diego Wave FC. 

“Fortunately, I got an email through USF’s job notification. When I applied for the Super Bowl LVI Experience, they were trying to hire someone who was currently majoring in Sport Management and because I was enrolled in the USF program, I was qualified.” – Ryanghoon Kim ‘22

Raymond Tioseco, who worked Super Bowls XLIV, XLV, XLVII, XVLIII and 50, and is currently with WeWork, encourages people to look at the NFL Public Relations function, including Radio Row, which is put together for the thousands of media that attend from around the world: “On game day, NFL PR is also responsible for getting the press areas ready for the game, providing real time official stats and quotes, and getting players and staff to their respective press conferences post game.”

Super Bowl Takeaways from Sports Management Graduates

Jordan Hom, who worked Super Bowl LVI and is currently working with the LA Clippers and LA Galaxy, encourages future Super Bowl volunteers and staff to “have fun and enjoy the entirety of the experience. You never know what you might see or who you may meet, so take in the moment as best you can. You’ll have a plethora of stories to share and a lifetime of memories.”

“Working the Super Bowl Experience was one of the best things anybody who is trying to get into sports can do. I was an area manager for this event and it taught me so many different things that I wouldn’t know if I never did it. If people have the opportunity to work the Super Bowl Experience I would 100% recommend it.” – Anuj Patel ‘23

“Do not expect to attend the game! For people who do not work in sports, this is probably the biggest misconception. Most of the folks that work directly within the host committee never attend the game.” – Fayne Samantha Cohen ‘12

“Have fun and enjoy the entirety of the experience. You never know what you might see or who you may meet, so take in the moment as best you can. You’ll have a plethora of stories to share and a lifetime of memories.” – Jordan Hom ’23

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