Words by Lindsey Spirk, a communications major alumna from the University of Pittsburgh who studied abroad with CAPA Sydney during spring semester 2015.
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My name is Lindsey. I studied abroad in Sydney, Australia my spring semester junior year of college in 2015. Since then, I have graduated from the University of Pittsburgh and am now working with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Studying abroad in Sydney, Australia was undoubtedly one of the best and most fulfilling experiences of my life thus far. From exploring four out of the six states in the beautiful country, to taking selfies with kangaroos, to trying alligator pizza, to seeing a show in the famous Sydney Opera House, to skydiving across the ocean, to interning with a professional sports team, my time in Australia is an experience I will never, ever forget.
Going into college, I had a few goals set for myself that I wanted to accomplish in my four years at the University of Pittsburgh. I wanted to make sure I took full advantage of my time and resources. I knew those four years would help set the stage for me for the rest of my life. Studying abroad was high on my “to do” list. I was so excited to go on this adventure that I remember being in the study abroad office nearly once a week since I was a freshman. I started to learn a lot more about studying abroad and all that was available for me to maximize my time.
While trying to decide where I wanted to study abroad, I realized there were programs that guaranteed me an internship while I was also taking classes. I was sold. It was a no-brainer for me that I needed to take advantage of this opportunity. In my opinion, and in the opinion of my company, the only thing better than an internship in a field you are interested in pursuing after college, is an internship abroad in a field you are interested in pursuing after college. Then, once I realized I could be guaranteed an internship in the Land Down Under, there was no other option for me. It took a little bit of convincing to get my parents on board with me traveling literally across the globe, but in the end, Sydney, Australia it was, and what an amazing three and half months it was…
I’ve known I wanted to work in professional sports one way or another since I was a senior in high school. I was fortunate enough to intern with the Australian Baseball League while in Australia. The ABL is owned by Major League Baseball in the United States. When I found out I was placed with them, I was ecstatic. It was exactly the kind of internship I was looking for. My thoughts going into the internship were: “Professional baseball? Perfect! This will be just like baseball here in the US.” I quickly learned that was not the case. The game itself is played the same, but the culture around the sport is very different.
I worked in the ABL headquarters right in the heart of Sydney. The headquarters consisted of roughly only 25 employees – pretty small, right? I was a marketing and communications intern during my time with the ABL. I helped with the ABL’s social media platforms, helped create player biographies, helped with creating different marketing campaigns for the organization and, last but not least, the most challenging task I was given was to make sales calls and sell game day tickets. To my surprise, selling baseball tickets in Australia was not very easy. Many did not even know baseball existed since the sport and the ABL were just recently introduced to the country. This was a learning experience for me. I love to be challenged and now I can say with confidence that I am a better salesperson and marketer thanks to the Australian Baseball League. I had to come up with new tactics to keep those on the other line interested in what I was saying. I had to both understand and adapt to other cultures and their tendencies/behaviors.
Having internship experience not only in the field I wanted to work in but also in a different country, is something I can honestly say helps set me apart from my peers. I now work with the Pittsburgh Steelers in the creative development office at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, working with the organization’s official fan loyalty program, Steelers Nation Unite. I communicate with the fans every day to help keep them excited about the Steelers 364 days a year and am constantly working with my coworkers to create new marketing campaigns and experiences to grow our fan base.
I am the immediate contact both internally and externally for any questions that fans may have about the program or regarding the Steelers. I also manage our fan customer service as well as assist in managing all of our game day experiences for fans such as taking fans on to the field for pre-game field access or post-game field access. Moreover, I help run our many Steelers events such as Training Camp and Rock Steelers Style. Work does not even feel like work to me. I wake up every day motivated and excited. There are few things better than a sport environment while simultaneously giving Steelers fans the best possible experience at the stadium and on our website.
I am extremely thankful that I am able to write to you all and share my story from how I turned a “to do” list into “I did” and “I’m doing” lists.
Thanks all for reading!