Unlocking new insights, perspectives, and relationships outside of the classroom

Cristalle (Cfay) Irons, a second-year Sport Management student at the University of San Francisco downtown campus, enthusiastically shares valuable experiences about professional development beyond the classroom and workplace. She emphasizes the tangible benefits of networking and the transformative impact of attending conferences, networking events, and sporting functions.

During her first year in the Sport Management program, Cfay strategically marked events she couldn’t attend, ensuring she prioritized them in the following year. Notably, she attended sporting events not just as a fan but as an observer, noting the intricacies of stadium operations. This shift in perspective provided insights into her current position with the Golden State Warriors and enhanced her understanding of experiential marketing, which will help her pursue future career opportunities in fan engagement.

In addition to her roles as an intern with Fancompass and as a Guest Experience Associate with the Golden State Warriors, Cfay’s professional development experiences have played a pivotal role in her overall career. One significant event for Cfay was the USC Sports Business Summit, where she connected with peers from USF, USC, and UCLA. This summit broadened their network, allowing them to build connections with industry leaders and gain a deeper understanding of the Southern California sports landscape. Attending the USC Sports Business Summit also exposed her to fan engagement startups, providing valuable insights that she brought back to her internship. She underscores the significance of leveraging professional development opportunities to stay informed and enhance one’s skills.

Reflecting on advice received at conferences and networking events, Cfay emphasizes the importance of seizing these opportunities. She acknowledges that these events can yield future rewards, reinforce classroom and job opportunities, and foster collaboration with industry professionals.

The University of San Francisco has been instrumental in facilitating professional development opportunities for students like Cfay. She credits the Sport Management program for regularly providing information about various events saving students time in searching for opportunities. The program’s financial support, offering $250 for conference or networking event tickets, further emphasizes USF’s commitment to students’ growth.

Cfay’s advice for new USF grad students in the Sport Management Program centers around “authentic networking.” “Authentic networking” is not asking for a job, but rather offering who you are, what you’re studying, where you want to be in life, and what you’ve observed within the industry. She stresses the importance of building meaningful relationships with industry professionals by offering insights into one’s studies, career goals, and observations within the industry. Additionally, she encourages students to connect with cohort mates, emphasizing that these relationships can shape future career paths.

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