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Nichols Senior, Mackenzie Walsh, ran the equivalent of a perfect pass route when she networked her way into an internship with the high-flying New England Patriots football team earlier this year. And Walsh, a senior Marketing major with a minor in Business Communications, hit the ground running on New Year’s Day just as the Patriots were squaring off in the playoffs against the Baltimore Ravens at home.
While Walsh spent that afternoon working the hospitality side of the business, tending to visitors in the Patriots’ Hall of Fame trophy room at Foxboro Stadium and to the occupants of corporate suites, she has since settled into her primary job as an intern in the marketing department. Several times a week, she makes the one-hour commute to Foxboro, Massachusetts, while finishing her classes at Nichols on other days.
“Part of my job description is to come up with proposals to present to companies,” Walsh says of the internship. That includes working with advertisers such as Dunkin’ Donuts and Nike to make sure their brands are clearly displayed in strategic locations around Foxboro Stadium. Walsh is also engaged in corporate ticket sales and developing corporate sponsorship proposals.
The work dovetails well with the Sales Management course Walsh is currently taking at Nichols in particular and her Marketing degree in general. “That’s the best part about marketing,” she says. “I can get into event planning, sales, or public relations. I can go so many directions in a company.”
Walsh’s most intriguing work involves prepping owner Robert Kraft and other Patriots executives with information on the VIPs who attend home games. “That includes a picture, the person’s position in (his or her) organization, a quick blurb about who he or she is,” Walsh explains, as well as a seat location, “in case Mr. Kraft wants to know.”
Walsh comes to her internship with some solid experience, having interned during her junior year for the Worcester Sharks, the city’s minor league entry in the American Hockey League. But she’s seen a big difference in the way business in conducted at the major league level. “In the minor leagues,” she explains, “there was one person in charge of the department. The Patriots have six to eight people dividing the same job.”
Over the past decade, Nichols has developed a robust history of student internships with big-league teams. “We’ve had student interns in Boston for the Red Sox, Bruins, and Celtics as well as all the students who go to New York to work with the Knicks and Rangers,” says Colleen Colles, the department chair of the Sport Management program.
“When we talk to potential employers in the sports industry nowadays,” Colles adds, “it’s expected that new hires will have experience. It gives us an advantage and a competitive edge over students in other programs.”
Even though Walsh came to her internship through a different major than Sport Management, she says, “It’s not a coincidence. I’m very interested in sports, so I’ve directed myself into that field. I’m a fan as much as an employee.” In particular, she admits, she’s a fan of the Patriots and aspires to a future with them after she graduates in May.