We sat down with 2015 IAL alum, Spencer Dodd, to see how life after graduation has treated him. Spencer now works as the Director of Championships & Corporate Sales for the Sun Belt Conference in New Orleans.
First and foremost, what drew you to the intercollegiate sports/athletics industry?
The opportunity to help provide a memorable and rewarding experience for the student-athletes.
What is your current position and can you explain a little bit of a typical day in that role?
In my current role, I serve as the director of championships and corporate sales where I oversee the operation and execution of conference championship events. I serve as the primary championship administrator for women’s soccer, volleyball, indoor & outdoor track and field, men’s & women’s tennis as well as baseball and basketball. Our team is also responsible for all other championships, including football and the other olympic sports. We oversee all aspects of the championship including securing hotels for staff and officials, generating a signage plan for the venue to make it feel like a championship event, overseeing on-site coaches meetings and making sure the championship is run according to our conference sport regulations. We are also responsible for conducting annual coaches meetings, as well as overseeing regular season competitions. On a daily basis we are always working ahead and it is always changing. Some days you could be focusing on one championship doing conference calls with the host, and putting together a championship manual, and the next you are working on a future schedule or dealing with schedule changes due to weather. The job is always moving and always changing but I enjoy that piece of it.
What’s the most surprising/unexpected task that you do in your role?
I was given the opportunity to lead our conference Student-Athlete Advisory Committee and work directly with our student-athletes to help enhance the total student-athlete experience. Working with this group, we have been able to implement a number of events and programming including community service initiatives, a mental health awareness program as well as other initiatives the student-athletes have identified. This piece of the job was something outside of the original job description, but I was able to take on and have enjoyed working directly with some of the best student-athletes in the Sun Belt.
What aspects of your education from the IAL program at UW proved to be the most useful to you–both in terms of life after graduation, but also in your current role?
The most useful thing I learned was how to communicate with a team when everyone is in different places doing different jobs and we were expected to communicate and work together like we are all in the same room. In my current role, we are not on a campus, so all of our communication with our stakeholders is largely done via email and conference calls and that experience helped me to grow and develop my communication strategies to better serve the membership. During the summer session I also felt the pace of the information and the long days were a good precursor to what life on the job is like.
How did your internship experience help give you insight into what you wanted to do after graduating from the IAL program?
I was fortunate enough that towards the end of my internship I was offered a full time position with the conference. The opportunity to go out and find an internship that I was interested in and something I wanted to do proved to be very valuable.
What was the most influential experience (or your most memorable moment) from the program?
I think the most influential thing was the relationships you make with your cohort and the other IAL alumni. I still keep in contact with a number of my classmates today, and have been able to visit them at their schools, and see them at various games or events.
What advice would you give someone looking to get started in their careers in athletics?
Be willing to do the work, be willing to move, and always be listening and learning. You can never stop learning.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
I think the flexibility of the IAL program to be able to go out and get an internship in a specific area, or continue your education while still working, was a great way to get ahead and get quality experience.
Quick Lightning Round:
Favorite thing about sports: The competition
Favorite thing about working in athletics: I get to be around sports all day
Favorite aspect of your job: The people I work with, both at the office and around the conference
Favorite thing about living in New Orleans: The food
Favorite quote: "Life is a marathon, not a sprint."