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September 28, 2017
CLARK TEUSCHER: I'll be moderating today's webinar as we discuss effective strategies for hiring, training and mentoring undergraduate student staff who so many of us count on to make our departments function on a daily basis. Today's discussion is being recorded and will be made available along with a full FastScript from CoSIDA's official transcript provider, ASAP Sports from the menus at CoSIDA Connect.
Presenting on today's webinar are Mark Albanese, Director of Sports communications at Pacific Lutheran University, Jon Holtz, Director of Athletics Communication at Slippery Rock University, Meghan O'Brien, Director of Marketing and Communications for the East Coast Athletic Conference, and Spencer LaHaye, Football Graphic Designer for Kansas State University.
Attendees on today's webinar are welcome to submit questions in our chat window during today's presentation. We'll address as many of those questions as time allows.
Our first presenter today will be Mark Albanese who is also a member of the Continuing Education Committee. He's here to discuss the many strategies SIDs may have available to them to identify and hire student staff. Mark?
MARK ALBANESE: Thanks for the intro. First thing I want to say which maybe doesn't directly relate to what I'm talking about but overall about student workers, the big thing is a lot of us consider ourselves communications professionals. We consider ourselves social media experts. But we also need to frame ourselves as educators. That's really what we are, what we do. And when you're talking to your higher-up athletic directors, other people across campus, identifying yourself as an educator is really important to getting things you need and viewing yourself as bigger than just sports. If you take anything away from what I say, take away that.
Everybody has different departments and universities are different from place to place, but a lot of these techniques can be used and tweaked at your place. So know your institutions but know a lot of these strategies work at multiple locations. I've been lucky enough here at POU. I have a student workforce of 30 individuals. They're paid student workers, so I've had that aspect of paid work and what that's like. Also, previously at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside, and all I had was unpaid internship.
So I had two very distinct and different models when it comes to student workers, and I've kind of found some strategies that work. Some work for both, some work for one or the other, and I'll walk through some of those.
Sources for workers, one of the big ones I think you automatically need to tap into is returning workers. Whether you're a returning SID and you've been there 20 years or it's your first year on the job, tapping into those returning workers, I think, is a great place to start. Especially when it's your first year at this institution. You don't know anybody. Typically there will be a few students that reach out to you that say, hey, I worked here last year. That's certainly a great pool to tap into. Helps you get to know the institution.
The other one, communications departments on campus, or sports management programs, when I was at Parkside, again, I had unpaid help, but we had a sports management program and that involved talking to some of the professors. I came in and talked during some of their classes and generated some interest in our department that way. Here at POU we do not have sports management, but we have a communications department. And I've talked to some of the professors about who are good writers, who have some interest in sports. I've found workers that way.
Another great one is if you have a video station on campus or radio station on campus or campus newspaper. I think everybody at least has a campus newspaper at the minimum. A lot have a radio station. I find that's really good for finding people who are public address announcers, people for our video feed, things of that nature. Where some people aren't comfortable doing the speaking aspects of our job, but are comfortable just doing stats, typically those are the people that you can find to do some of those speaking roles that sometimes students are a little hesitant to do at times.
Another place I like to tap into is our actual sports teams. Talk to coaches you know and have good rapport with who is on their team who is maybe interested in sports. I typically find student-athletes while there is challenges of availability at times, they tend to be really reliable.
With that, to get creative, unfortunately, I've never been at a place that has men's volleyball. But if you have men's volleyball and women's volleyball, you absolutely need to have men's volleyball working women's volleyball and vice versa. I think it's a natural skillset. When I was at Wisconsin-Parkside, we used Carthage College, they had a men's volleyball team and we used their men's volleyball players to be line judges and things like that. It's a sport sometimes people don't have a lot of knowledge on. So having that basis is pretty important.
Another one I do is talk to our intramural department a lot. Typically your intramural department is incorporated into the athletic department. What's great about that is they already have some employees, and they know how to work. They have that built-in knowledge of sports, and that's built in. You're working at night, you're working on weekends. Also from a shared resource, they may only get two or three hours working in intramurals, but if you tie that into a few hours in your office, you put that together and they're getting a pretty nice part-time job, and there is not a huge investment and you're not giving them a ton of hours.
So those are a bunch of great resources. I also get recommendations from current student workers. Sometimes that's one of the best of, hey, do you know somebody in one of your classes or you're friends with, typically ask someone you trust on your staff if they're a good worker. Typically they know other people that are good workers or would be good workers.
Finally, I do an add on our campus employment website, you never know who you're going to get when you put that out there. I always require they at least submit a resume and send me an email why they want to work. Every once in a while, especially freshmen, that's sometimes the best freshmen employees. When you're like me right now, paid help, if you can get them when they're freshmen and keep them going through the system, that's certainly ideal. And then as opposed to the Internship credit thing, when I was at Parkside, it was all unpaid, you would get somebody for a semester, maybe a year and you've got to retrain people.
It's a little bit more of a struggle if you have that internship credit. You don't have money for student workers. But you can still certainly make it work. We here at POU use students for almost everything. Our basketball, our entire table outside of media is student workers. That's pretty much the case in every sport we have. Kind of a little different than when I was at Parkside. We had a lot of people in the community helping out.
We certainly were able to give them a lot of great experiences. They write stories on our website, they do stats. You certainly need a huge staff on that.
Going moreover to the hiring process, again, I always require a resumÃ©. Doesn't have to be great. But more than anything some of these kids this is the first time they've put together a true resume, so from an experience standpoint, I think that's great. I also require them to send them an email, listing their qualifications why they want to work in my office.
Part of that is just getting them writing and also helps to identify this person is a good writer. Maybe we'll have them do stories. Maybe this person isn't great at writing, maybe we're not using them or they're in a different capacity.
I always require an interview. Honestly, going into these interviews, most of the time I already know if I'm going to hire this person or not. Typically I don't bring them in an interview if I'm not willing to hire them. I usually start by having them talk about themselves and why they're interested in the position or their background. And I typically go back and explain the positions that we have, and the third time around, go back to them and have them ask me some questions.
I found that typically works pretty well. Kind of root out people who don't really have any background, from people who are really sharp and have these -- they kept a score book in high school or they've done this or that.
The big thing also I'll say is hire more than you need. I have 30 employees and obviously we don't have a single sporting event that requires 30 people. But it's one of those things when semester break rolls around or it's winter break, it's always nice to have those extra bodies that you can pull in.
Again, some of my student workers, some work about 20 hours a week. Some only work one or two hours or even just a couple times a month. It's always good to have that.
Then, also build in extra bodies on game days. One of the big things in basketball, we have somebody who tracks the shot chart. So they have that piece of paper and put Xs and Os. You don't need to do that. But it's great because if somebody doesn't show up one day, you just move the shot chart person into one of these other jobs and that way you're not scrambling on game day.
So in a brief nutshell, that's going over the hiring process and identifying people.
I don't know, Clark, if you have any questions for me.
CLARK TEUSCHER: Yeah, before we hand things off here, talk a little bit about the job descriptions that you put out there. Do they vary based on where you're looking to draw people from, and what goes into that?
MARK ALBANESE: Yeah, I have a generic sports information assistant job description that I put in sometimes for our student workers when doing the on-campus employment website. I also have one specifically for certain times I'm just hiring a public address announcer, I'm just hiring a photographer, so those will be tailored to those jobs. Your job is just photographer or public address.
Now that said, when I bring them in on the interview, I do mention, and I mention this to everybody. The job we hire you for, there is obviously flexibility. I always tell them to ask me a lot of questions if they see something they really like or want to learn more about, let me know. I've been pretty good about moving people around based on what they're interested in.
But, again, it's kind of a dual-prong thing of there is that general, you're a sports information assistant, kind of the utility man. Then there is also this specific, you're doing a specific job. Mainly that's depending on you do need a certain skillset to be a photographer, typically is having your own equipment because our department camera is just not great. Or, you know, PA, by and large, not everybody's interested in that, but they might be interested in other things. So, yeah, it's a little bit of both on those job descriptions.
With those job descriptions I'm pretty vague in general just because the nature of our profession, you do a lot of different things, and I don't want to pigeon hole if you're just doing this, and you end up doing something that's totally different.
CLARK TEUSCHER: All right. Thank you very much, Mark. We'll have you stay on the line if there are questions throughout the webinar, we'll be sure to bring you back in on those.
Jon Holtz is a regional representative on the port for D-II CoSIDA. He's got some well-developed strategies for training students and building a team atmosphere for them and he's here to share some of those, Jon?
JON HOLTZ: Thanks, Clark, and thanks, Mark, for that intro into the webinar today. One quick thing I did want to touch on that Mark kind of mentioned in there really quick, too. Is one of the ways we've had success with identifying some students in the past is I've actually had a good relationship with one of our admission's counsellors who was a former athlete here. So I'll tell him, hey, if you're talking to incoming freshmen or prospective students, parents, and you identify somebody that you think might want to look into a field of athletic communications, get me their contact info. Through that process, we've been able to hire a couple of really, really good incoming freshmen, and to have incoming freshmen that are passionate about what you want to do has been really good for us over the last few years.
I'm going to talk today more about how we train our students and particularly how we retain our students. Some background, Slippery Rock University, a Division II school in Western Pennsylvania. I think we have a fantastic situation from an athletic communication standpoint. We carry about 18 undergraduate student workers. And then we pair that with two full-timers, a grad assistant, and an intern position. So, really, the first part of the training side of things. We try to train students in all of the areas that we're responsible for before we just try to settle them into one or two certain areas, and I think that's important because it lets the students really learn the different areas that you're responsible for, the different aspects of the job. Is also gives them an opportunity to see what they may or may not really enjoy doing.
So that is the first step we use in our training process. We move our students around so they do at least one thing, one different thing at all of their first games that they work. Just to kind of get them a diverse experience and kind of show them everything that we're doing. From there the communication is key. What we'll do then is communicate with those students and try to find out of the jobs that they did, and what jobs did they really like doing, which jobs did they hate doing. That's a two-way street with communications, in terms of us providing them with feedback saying, hey, this is what we think you did really well, this is what we think you can improve on. Then going there and having a conversation and working out where are the best places to put those students after they've gone through the process and learned about everything that we're doing.
Then from there I think it is important to let them work in the areas they want to work in, but not all the time. I think diversity and challenges are obviously good for building their character and helping them grow and develop. We don't always put them where they want to be. Just so we give them a chance to keep developing and continuing to grow in those areas.
One of the biggest things we do training-wise, is I think that leadership is a key element to developing these collegiate students. On of the big things we'll do is take our upper grad or our upperclassmen and our top student workers and we'll let them handle some of the training. We'll go over something once and put them in charge of overseeing our new students. And what that does is two-fold, it creates a better connection, better chemistry among the staff, but it also shows those upper-class student workers how important they are to the staff and how valuable they are that you're really trusting them with some training experience. We'll always trust our upperclassmen to kind of lead some of those things throughout the year.
Really, training-wise that's the biggest things we do there is move people around and get everybody involved. But the one big thing I really want to talk about today is how we retain students because we've had a great deal of success doing that over the years. I think all of that comes from creating a culture that students want to be a part of, which I think we've done a great job of and really had some success with.
If you make coming to work not feel like work for them, it's really going to work tenfold for you in terms of getting the most out of your student workers, seeing them happy and retaining good quality student workers. To do that we make things fun. We try to keep things as light and airy as possible during game days particularly. Obviously there are really stressful moments and things where everything is not working and things get a little more serious, but we try to keep things light so that the students stay engaged and really want to be there.
We let them be involved which is one of the biggest parts. Our students know that they're vital to the success of our office. I think it's crucial and important that you remind them often that they are important to what you're doing and you remind them often that without them you don't succeed and your office doesn't succeed. You fail without them. So we will remind them often and tell them they did a great job.
There have been nights where it's 10:30 at night or 11 at night after a football game and it's been a crazy day, I'll shoot a group text to everybody, just reminding everybody how much I appreciate everything they did that day, and that goes a long way to show that you care or respect them or appreciate them as part of the office.
This one sounds simple, but feed them. You can underestimate how important a free meal is for a college student. I know we all don't have huge student budgets and aren't making the most money, so paying out of pocket isn't an option, really. What we've done here is reached out to a local pizza shop, pizza sub shop. In exchange for some advertising throughout the year, they give us gift cards through the year. They actually give us $1200 worth of gift cards for the year, which allows us to pay for meals, pizza, sandwiches, things like that throughout the whole year.
Anytime we have two events in a row or three events in a row or we're going to have students there during meal times and things we will feed them because that goes a long way in showing that you appreciate them. I think it's important that you reach out to those connections. Here it's really worked out well having that connection with that pizza shop. That's been a game-changer for us in terms of retaining some students.
One of the biggest things we've started doing here in terms of retaining and developing some of our student workers is that we've started identifying during their junior years. We've identified somebody that maybe really wants to go into the field, and we've started working with them during their junior year with the goal of moving them into a new position that we've created two years ago, that we call the senior student intern. And that position in our staff gets a little more responsibility. We treat it like a full-time position. We give them at least one sport in the fall. We put them on the staff directory, give them a bio on the website. Put a nameplate on the outside of the front of the door to the office. Things like that that really make them feel like they're part of the full-time staff.
Then we treat them like a full-timer. We let them handle all of the responsibilities of the office from game day and from a media standpoint. And that's really, really done a fantastic job for us in developing some of that talent and preparing them for jobs and internships afterwards. We're on our second or third one right now, and the other two have both landed jobs right out. One of them was an assistant communications director for the Indians this year at the Triple-A level, and the current one we have right now just accepted an internship at Pitt.
So that's really been a big deal for us in terms of developing that undergrad student talent and saying, okay, even though you're an undergrad, we're going to treat you like you're not an undergrad and give you a lot more responsibility and try to prepare you for that next step.
The last thing we really do to try to retain students and develop that culture that I talk about is we do a couple social activities throughout the year. I think it's really important to remind the students that it's not always about work, and that the only time that you get together isn't just for work events. So the two that we do at the end of each semester, we have one at the end of the fall semester. We actually have it at a local bowling alley. We do a three-game bowling tournament between everybody on the staff. We feed everybody with pizza and wings and things like that. My assistant and I pool some money together and we buy everybody a gift on the staff.
We usually spend about $5 a gift, which obviously eats into your own personal budget a little bit, but I think it's really important to show them how much they mean to us and how important they are to us throughout the year. That's gone a really, really long way in terms of building some chemistry on staff and showing those folks that we really appreciate them.
The biggest part of that one that we do, the greatest part of that get together that we do is before we all leave we go around the room before the term is over, we go around the room and everybody says what they do, what their holiday traditions are. Doesn't matter what religious background you are or anything like that. We just say what your holiday traditions are, what you do over the break and that kind of thing. And the staff has grown to like that. They learn intimately and personally about some of their co-workers and some of their fellow students.
That's really gone a long way to building our staff chemistry and creating that culture that we really want. This is a caring, family environment that we want people to come and want to be a part of.
So that's what we do in the winter. That's probably the most important event we do throughout the year for our student workers. Then we do one again in the spring, at the end of spring semester. Usually at an outdoor pavilion on campus or an outdoor picnic where we feed everybody and do some kind of can jam or corn hole tournament or something like that and give away some surprises we've accumulated throughout the year. Just a way to say the last and final thank you for everything they've done throughout the year, and a send off for the seniors and really just a way to thank everybody and say we're excited to have you coming back next year.
The last thing is once they're gone, once the students are gone, I think it's crucial you stay in touch with your student workers or your former student workers, and I think it's crucial that you promote them and promote your office.
Don't be afraid to write a story and post it on your website if one of your former students gets a job somewhere. Particularly over the summer when we're always trying to find new content, drive content, drive use of the web. I'll oftentimes -- we just did a magazine story that highlighted 25 of our former student workers that have jobs in sports just over the last five years, graduates.
So I think it's really important in that not only shows them that you care, but you appreciated what they did. But show your current staff that you're following along. That you're not just using them while you're here. You're paying attention and genuinely care about their success moving forward. That's been great for us both for the relationships that we've created with our student workers that have moved on to professional careers, and it's been great to tell those stories to our current student workers and kind of show them what's next for them.
That's really what I have from a training and development stand point in retaining our student workers.
CLARK TEUSCHER: Jon, speaking specifically about training, do you do that in a group setting? Is it one-on-one? Do you have a training manual that you work from? How is your training structure?
JON HOLTZ: We do a little bit of everything. So we'll do some group training early in the year, the first few games of the year. Specifically on things like hand stats, calling, things like that, things like working with the tri-caster, camera work, things like that or learning some of the camera settings. Those really don't lend themselves to the group setting or group training sessions. That' really kind of a hands-on, visual thing. So we'll do one-on-one training sessions for a lot of those jobs, but we'll mix and match throughout the year on those two.
CLARK TEUSCHER: Okay. Great. Before we move on to Meghan, we had a question come in about job descriptions that Mark referenced, and those job descriptions will be available along with the rest of today's materials on CoSIDA Connect.
Meghan O'Brien is a member of the Continuing Education Committee and recently submitted a blog post related to today's topic on CoSIDA Connect. She is here to talk about the importance of effective mentoring for student assistants.
MEGHAN O'BRIEN: Thank you, Clark, I appreciate it. Thank you, Mark and Jon.
I'm just going to go through a little bit of my tips and tricks here. I've been fortunate enough to work with student workers, student-athletes, interns, graduate assistants, for the better part of my career. Really thrown into mentoring, leading and teaching them right from the git-go. So the most important thing is you want to lead by example.
As Mark so eloquently put it, we are educators, and we need to remember that we're teaching them not only skills at hand but for life-long lessons. You want to make sure that you're creating and putting them in the atmosphere that they are the future of their profession, but more importantly we're making them decent human beings.
You want to set expectations early. This could be the first time in a professional setting, so start from the beginning. They may not know how to answer the phone or a different system. I know that sounds silly. But right from the get, you want to teach that customer service attitude. You don't know what type of skillset you're getting from these student workers. You've interviewed them, you've vetted them. But you want to put them into real-life situations.
This can't be stressed enough is promoting the work-life balance. I think we all are guilty of not doing our best at this. Like Jon mentioned, it's not all about work. Maybe there is a 12-on, 12-off rule. Encourage the comp time and take the days off. There is never a good time to take a day off, but we all need it. We need to regroup because we don't want anybody to burn out, and you don't want anybody to get that impression from the on-set that that's what this is all about.
CLARK TEUSCHER: Meghan, I apologize for the interruption, but right now we're not able to see you. If you could turn your web cam on.
MEGHAN O'BRIEN: I'm sorry. It's important to be honest with them. Share your mistakes with students and be forthcoming with them. No one likes admitting that they're wrong, but I think they get a kick out of you being able to fall on your on sword and say this happened to me once, and this is how you can avoid it happening to you. It's human nature to make mistakes, but you should learn from them. Use them as teachable moments. Let them understand where your mistake was. How you rectified it, and that will go a long way.
We will hit bumps in the road at one point or another, so the method which you go about fixing it is itself a teachable moment.
You want to build trust with your students. You need to trust them just as much as they need to trust you. It's so important to communicate with them and tell them your story. They want to know about you as you want to know about them. It's to lead. You want to be able to put them in a position and set them up for success and have them just be able to move forward by understanding that you trust them and they can talk to you. Communication is key.
So here you want to celebrate the victories. I can't stress that enough. Give credit when credit is due, and give them the assist. Like Jon mentioned, share stories on the web and promote them to acknowledge that they've done a good job. Because when you're giving them positive reinforcement, you're retaining them, and you're allowing them to understand that they've done something right.
Importantly, you want to be an active listener and take a genuine interest. You don't want to offer advice too quickly. Sometimes people just need to talk things out and they need to understand that you're there to support them, and they'll come to a solution on their own. They don't always make the leap that they have the answers within them. They just need to talk it out and you're guiding them.
Get to really know them. Understand their backgrounds and their families and where they come from. Their holiday traditions, like Jon mentioned. It's important to have those conversations and have them branch out which will lead to their networking and creating of their own network.
You want to motivate and inspire them, most importantly and share your stories. You may not be impressed with yourself, but I tell you what, they are. They want to know how you got to where you are. They want to know what you did to get there. Did you start out as a communications major? Were you a sports management major? Were you thinking you were going into business and now all of a sudden you're the director of communications at a Division I institution. How did that happen? How did you get there? And that advice will help them now and in the future.
It's really important to play to their strengths and to build confidence within your students and let them know that it's okay to fail. That's how we get back up and get back on the horse.
You want to identify their strengths early on. Some may be better in PhotoShop than others. Some may be able to input volleyball without a caller, which would be amazing for a freshman to be able to do. So don't set them up to fail, but rather set them up to be challenged and push them as far as you know you can.
You want to build confidence in that staff and let them know what they're capable of. Each one brings a unique skillset to your organization, your department, and how can you utilize the skills and have them make themselves better. It allows them to step out of their comfort zone when they do that and enter into that leadership role as Jon mentioned with his older student workers. Maybe it's not something they're used to right away but it will be a life skill that they'll need later on. Building that confidence will teach them to be comfortable being uncomfortable and that's something a lot of people struggle with. So it's better to come out of your shell, take the bull by the horns and really get to it.
The important thing when you're creating connections and helping them to build their network is that you introduce them to everyone. You don't have them lose the importance of real face time and those one-on-one conversations. If there's an opportunity to go to a social event at work, you're probably exhausted, but do it. Show your face on campus for an hour, get to meet those people because you never know when those connections will be useful later on.
Helping them to build their own network can be as simple as offering suggestions on who they should know and who they should follow, Twitter chats that they should join, blogs to follow on LinkedIn. It's all about building relationships in the industry we're in.
So you want to make sure they have the resources they need to excel. Maybe it's a professional development opportunity that you can spare some change for. Maybe it's a subscription to a sports business journal or something along those lines. How can you help them create their network? This is not their last stop. So you want to make sure you're setting them up to be successful because ultimately their performance at the next stop is a reflection on you and what you've taught them to be as people and the technical skills. I think that's something sometimes we lose sight of is the people skill aspect of it.
Any questions for me, Clark?
CLARK TEUSCHER: Yes, really quick. We had one come in. I'll direct it to you. If you have a student worker that is not meeting expectations for whatever reason, what ways to you find are effective to manage that and deal with that?
MEGHAN O'BRIEN: I think it's important to address it right off the bat when something is veering off and say, okay, what's going on? It could be something personal that has nothing to do with the work, but it's important to get to the root of it. Have a conversation and communicating with them is so crucial. Addressing it and having them understand the scope of the job or lack thereof that they're doing is affecting the entire team.
CLARK TEUSCHER: Okay, great. Thank you very much, Meghan.
Some SIDs may feel nervous about delegating a certain level of responsibility to students. But through effective training and mentoring this is something that could benefit both sides greatly. Spencer LaHaye was a student assistant for me the past three years at North Central College. And upon graduation last June, he immediately jumped into his role at Kansas State driving creative and social media content for the football program. He's here to show his story and how his experience as a student benefits him. Spencer?
SPENCER LaHAYE: All right, Clark. Thanks for having me on. Before we get started, got to give another shout out to you about what we're about to talk about and what you're going to see in my role and what I'm able to do wouldn't be possible without you. So just a quick shout out.
All right. So who is this guy? My name is Spencer LaHaye. I'm at Spencer LaHaye on Twitter and SpencerLaHaye.com. Just kind of I'm a visual guy. I do visual work. So if you want to see what I'm about or follow me or whatever. But I'm the graphic designer for Kansas State football. It's a semi-accurate title, but we'll get into that a little bit later. As Clark mentioned, I used to work with him as a student worker, and that was for three years, so sophomore year through senior year.
So quick history, I got a degree in Interactive Media Studies which is a fancy word for graphic arts, and it included graphics, video, things of that nature and kind of a whole package deal. I began working in 2014 with Clark. He brought me on and said, hey, social media is becoming this thing in athletics, and how can we kind of step in on that and do our part to communicate our student-athletes?
So this is kind of some early work that you're seeing here. This is 2014 to 2016. So the football game day graphic in the group of nine in the top left, that was like the first graphic, I think, or one of the first graphics ever created in sports for Clark. So it's kind of cool to look back. So kind of fast forward, that was sophomore and junior year, and now we'll fast forward to senior year.
So going into senior year, I proposed a fall internship based on sports info, and Clark, basically, to kind of take things to a whole 'nother level. I had decided this is what I wanted to do as a career choice. I needed to both get a portfolio and kind of be able to show a real-world application of what I can do.
So what that fall internship included was increased social media efforts. We kind of dabbled in a print design. We did the first football schedule poster, as well as a total fall sports schedule poster. A lot more graphics. Before we were doing game day and final score and we were kind of getting into awards and polls and just other ways to engage our audience in Instagram and other social media platforms.
Lastly, being the person that as a graphic designer started this look and visual identity, it was establishing that in creating a branding guide, so now Clark has that and future student workers can look at that and cannot from a visual standpoint to have consistency.
So why did I want to do this internship? Like I just spoke on, you want to show your applicable skills, have a portfolio of work, not class projects. That was a huge thing in college, oh, you can use your class projects and have your portfolio the first time and take it to jobs or whatever. But that doesn't really -- that doesn't apply in my mind to kind of what we do in athletics. It's kind of different realm. So this was a perfect opportunity to show on a real-world basis and on a smaller scale what I'm capable of doing. Baseline pretty much wrote it literally to get a job. It's a great opportunity and that's all because I was a student worker.
So some of the results of our fall internship: We had a 44% growth of impressions on Twitter. According to sportsposterswag.com, funny name, I know, but they gave us the No. 8 ranked non-FBS football poster in the collegiate division. 2016 CoSIDA, we got a Top 10 finish in the single sports poster, that was also football.
We created a branding guide which was a physical packet of information of how things can remain consistent visually for the brand. And every single piece of my portfolio, whether I was cold calling or emailing or mailing or whatever it was, every single piece, to showcase what I was capable of when applying for jobs came from this internship.
So here's some of the work from the internship. So we got the football poster in the middle that we just talked about, and got some of those accolades. Probably my favorite piece I've ever done, and we got a happy Halloween graphic and a football game day graphic.
Going on, we've just got some other various materials. We've got a game day program cover, so that was actually printed and handed out to fans in the stadium, which is really cool to get a tangible piece. As a student, seeing your work, everyone walking around the stadium with it, it's pretty cool. So kind of like a little story.
I ended up going to CoSIDA 2016 last year with Clark and the rest of the staff which was a great time and great to meet some of you guys and network.
And the other part of that is Twitter. Twitter is a great place. It's where people my age are, first of all, and it's where a lot of athletics are happening, specifically in the realm of what I do with graphics and video and things of that nature. Took a lot of hard work in a small world.
So pretty much this is the last month of college summarized for me in pictures. Took my flight out to Manhattan, Kansas, which is, as you probably assume, kind of in the middle of nowhere. Kind of a little bubble, so you can see our athletic complexes. I graduated in June with my degree in Interactive Media Studies, and not 48 -- I guess it was not 24 hours later after graduation I was in a car with all my stuff packed up on my way to move out there to start my job.
So the outcome of being a student worker, that's really what I'm here to talk about. I got my dream job right out of college. I'm the graphic designer for Kansas State football. It's exactly what I wanted to do. Made the move, so I pretty much packed up everything and moved to a random place in the country to do what I love.
I kind of had experience doing some of what I do with Clark, but this was kind of like here's the keys to everything with football and just go. That's kind of what the attitude was and that's kind of also what Clark did with me. Kind of just gave me the keys and we just went. That's kind of how I work now.
So when I was applying for this job ask got it, my actual job description is listed in the bottom left. So if you kind of read through while I'm talking, it includes only graphics-related things. It mentions one thing about a strategy with social media, but that's related specifically to graphics. So on the right, we've got my actual responsibilities, as I view them.
So graphic design is just one-third of what I do. I do 50% recruiting, which is obviously the life blood of a football team at this level. So that's taking a kid's head and putting it on one of our guy's heads and saying something cool for them. That's all kind of stuff that no one sees.
The other side is 50% public and internal. So that's social media, stat graphics, live, in-game stuff, tickets, posters, whatever that may be. Things that I kind of weasel my way into photography. So I'm kind of the inside guy on photography. Our athletic department contracts out a guy to shoot the actual Joe-schmo, 10-yard run, that kind of action stuff. But I'm with the team 24/7. The travel photos, the hotel stuff, the barbecue when we go to movie night, all that stuff.
Then I also run our social media accounts, so our only two official platforms are Twitter and Instagram. It makes it kind of nice. Those are kind of the power two in my mind. That's what we go with.
So I plan, create, and execute everything. And then other duties of course in sports, we never do just one thing, we always have our hand in a bunch of different buckets. That also includes chasing down Coach Snyder's hat when it blows away in the wind and things of nature, and those are the best parts.
So that all goes together with what I do. And I guess in sports in general, it's kind of like a big chain. You've got to take the photo to make the graphic, and then make the graphic to post on social media. So it kind of all runs together.
So here's a little graphic I made. I just passed 90 days working full-time here. So from the 14th to September 11th, these are kind of some statistics that we went on. It kind of updated those in the corner down here.
That updated our total audience since I've been hired, I'm at roughly about 21,000 new followers, which in the past 86 months before I came, we had 44,000 followers, total. So here's a quick look at some work at what I've been doing been doing.
On the far left we've got our game day graphic for football. So we went down and traveled to Vanderbilt. In the middle we've got a post-game info graphic kind of dragging out the win a little bit for the fans. We've got an internal design for a game day cover. This is what goes on playbooks, and then the social media graphic on the bottom right.
Here are just some other various social media graphics. We've got an iPhone wallpaper countdown graphic to season, an awards graphic, Big 12 special teams player of the week and some more materials I've created. These are some of the photos I've taken this year, so leave that up for a second.
As I mentioned, or I guess I didn't mention this, but I didn't do any photography before I came to Kansas State. I just did graphics and some social media with Clark at North Central. So photography was something they were interested in doing. So my motto is if you don't know how to do something, say you'll do it and just learn along the way. It's actually been one of the best parts of the job so far. It's always fun to learn something new and be creative in a new way.
But you can always learn. YouTube's a great thing. There are so many resources nowadays, and you've just got to go with it, and I think that's something that can be carried along with what you guys are all trying to learn, which is your students are coming and they may not necessarily know what exactly they're going to be doing, but they can learn.
So, quick photo collage. This is all because I got the opportunity as a student, and we just ran with it. I'm on the field playing catch at Vanderbilt at the 50-yard line before the game, hanging out with Coach Snyder. I've got a pretty sweet gig, and it's all because of my student opportunity.
So why you're really here. Hey, that's cool, Spencer, can you get me some Kansas State swag? But I'm here to get student workers, and how can I translate that?
So we're not all Clemson, which is like one of the top-tier of what I do as a job. They've got a million student workers, the whole nine yards -- not a million student workers, but a lot. So finding students, I'm not the only one that wants to do things like this. There are tons of creative people or people that want to work in athletics. They just don't know where the door is or what they want to do. So you just want to get them in the door.
Honestly, in my opinion, I'm going to do the same thing, which is searching for students here pretty soon. I just want to know what they can bring to the table. There are a million different roles in what we do, and there may be something that you didn't think of that some person might be able to bring to the table. So just get them in the door and find out what their strength is.
Some of the previous presenters had said student perspective, you don't really know. They may not know what the opportunity opportunities are. So if you can just get them in the door, you can explain a little bit, hey, what are you good at? Here's what we're maybe looking for. Just collaborate. Just find a way that you can fit them into your system and get them helping out to communicate or whatever it may be.
You just never know what may come of it. I know I certainly didn't imagine this was what was going to happen as a sophomore in college. Hey, sure, I'll make some graphics for you. But here I am in the middle of Kansas, flying around every weekend and hanging out with the football team. I've got a great gig. I've got my dream job, but I never would have thought that was going to happen. Whatever they bring to the table, it's more than you had before. It's one more set of hands, one more mind, one more student to help you out along the way.
Jonathan Gantt, I'll bring it back to Clemson, he's the digital and creative director there. He said the number one criteria for you working for them is just that they're a good person. You can teach the rest of the stuff. You can teach how to cut somebody out of photo shop, or hold a camera or input stats. You've got to kind of have a good vibe. We work a lot of hours and things like that. But they've got to be a good person. I think that resonates really well.
So kind of what I'm going to do in terms of hiring students, and I know that's why you guys are here is how can you translate my story into, you know, takeaways. We don't have the ability to just hire. We don't have droves of people, students coming in and looking for work. Again, like I touched on earlier, a good person, are they enthusiastic about sports? Are you in my office sitting down and interested in helping me out in some way? Sweet. That's a winner in my book. That's an easy bucket.
So, let's take a deep breath really quick. I'm going to give maybe a controversial take for some of you guys. This kind of relates more specifically to what I do in social media. But hand them the keys. It doesn't have to be the keys to the Porsche or anything. It can be a spare set of keys and it doesn't get everywhere, but hand them the keys.
Clark gave me a seat at the table and we ran with it. Here I got to see the table immediately, and they just handed me the keys, and I think that's a great way to empower someone to reach their full potential.
So what just played in your mind when I said hand them the keys is like a nightmare situation specifically on social media where X-thing happens. You have to trust that they're not going to go hog wild and have to understand this is a professional world for them, even being a student, and that's the mindset they need to have. You have to trust those situations are not going to happen.
To counter those potential nightmare situations that may happen, I think this translates not only to social media, but everything, I guess this is specifically social media related -- but organic equals authentic. By organic, I mean does X-event have to be tweeted the second it happens? Is that your social media content or whatever it may be? The answer is no. You can have good content on social media or whatever your platform may be, that can be planned, and that's a way around the nightmare situation of giving a student keys immediately. If that makes sense.
So baby steps. So this is kind of just like a phase by phase of specifically with social media how you can kind of work them into giving them all the keys. So you know it's baby steps. Pretty logical to kind of help them out. Then eventually you work to where they can create everything themselves.
So what is better than an extra arm or leg, which is you doing your job, is having an extra person to help you do your job. So I'll leave you guys with one quote from a legendary coach form North Central, he said, "If you're ever in a position to help someone and you don't, you ought not to be in that position."
So here's my contact information. If I can ever be of help in the future to anyone or a phone call from a student or anyone, please don't hesitate.
CLARK TEUSCHER: Thank you very much, Spencer. Really quick before we wrap up. You mentioned your experience at the convention. Talk a little bit about what students can stand to gain from an experience like that from any SIDs who are in a position whether they live in the area or some other circumstance where they can have a student attend the convention? Talk about how that worked out for you.
SPENCER LaHAYE: Yeah, absolutely. That experience was really cool because in my opinion previously I thought we kind of worked in a little bubble, and I didn't really understand how many people worked in athletics before I got into it. Then you're able to go to a convention like that and there were just tons of all of us around, and it's cool to see that. Yes, there are many career options in this field of athletics, and there are plenty of people out there doing it.
Not only that, you get to meet people that you would never meet in any other situation that are doing exactly what you're doing or looking to hire someone that's doing what you do. So I think the networking capabilities. I mean, I met with a significant amount of graphic designers and went out to lunch and things like that. I had conversations that were eye-opening with people I never would have met previously.
CLARK TEUSCHER: All right. Great, thank you very much for your time today, Spencer.
We want to thank each of our presenters for participating today. We continue to appreciate Capital One's ongoing sponsorship of the Continuing Education Series. The recording of today's webinar, the ASAP Sports FastScript, and the presentations you saw today will be available for on-demand use at CoSIDA's online community, CoSIDA Connect later today.
As always, we invite all attendees to submit any additional questions for further discussion at CoSIDA Connect. All of CoSIDA's resource library and materials are available to members on CoSIDA Connect. Mobile users can download the CoSIDA Connect app on iTunes and Google play. More information can be found at CoSIDA.com.
Our next webinar will be Thursday, October 18th, when we'll be joined by members of the CoSIDA New Media committee. Thanks to everyone for participating. Have a great day.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports