Interview: CAPA Study Abroad Alum Daniel Mickens
Photo: Franz Josef Glacier, New Zealand
Meet CAPA alum and recent sport management graduate from Lasell College, Daniel Mickens who studied and interned abroad in Sydney during Fall semester 2013. Since returning to the States, Daniel has seen his career grow quite quickly. As he details below, his internship in Australia with the Sydney Blue Sox baseball team made a huge difference in the level of experience he was able to bring to job interviews that secured him the role he has today with the New Jersey Devils hockey team.
CAPA WORLD: Tell us a bit about yourself.
DANIEL MICKENS: My name is Daniel Mickens. I am a recent graduate from Lasell College where I studied sport management with a minor in communications. I grew up in Montclair, New Jersey a suburb only a twenty-minute train ride outside of New York City. With my recent graduation, I am now residing in Bloomfield, New Jersey and working as a Ticket Sales Associate for the New Jersey Devils. I had the opportunity to study abroad in Sydney, Australia through CAPA during the fall semester of 2013. During my time with CAPA, I interned with an Australian Baseball League team called the Sydney Blue Sox. For fun, I enjoy being outdoors, traveling, and watching sports.
Photo: Bondi Beach
CW: Why did you decide to study abroad?
DM: I knew early on in my life that traveling was something I was passionate about. Starting at the age of 10, my father and I would road trip to Major League Baseball stadiums across the United States. I have been fortunate enough to visit 29 Major League Baseball stadiums since that time. Only the Houston Astros and Texas Rangers are left on the list! These experiences sparked the growth of a travel bug within me at an early age and were a major factor in my decision to study abroad. Even arriving on my college’s campus, I knew that one of my semesters was going to be spent abroad.
Photo: Pancakes on The Rocks
CW: How difficult was it to decide where to go and what program to choose? What helped you make your decision?
DM: The thought of studying abroad can often seem a bit overwhelming at first because of all the decisions that go into making it happen. There are so many different programs and opportunities it seems near impossible to decide which one is the best fit. Personally, I had to take a step back during this time. I had to ask myself what I would value most during my experience abroad. As a student studying sport management I knew that work experience was going to be a key factor in my success after graduation. CAPA provided the opportunity for me to tie my passion for sports and travel together through their internship program. Once I heard I could have the opportunity to intern abroad, it was a no brainer. Not only did I get to study at an Australian university, I also had the opportunity to learn about an international work culture first hand.
Photo: Queenstown Nevis Bungy Jump
CW: Why did you decide to complete an internship? What did you hope to accomplish?
DM: As a student who was studying sport management I knew it was important to gain work experience. The sports industry is highly competitive and the more experience you have the better off you are. Working for the Sydney Blue Sox was one of four internships that I participated in while at Lasell. As an aspiring sports executive, I knew that gaining international experience in sports was key. After doing some research about the Australian Baseball League and talking with the General Manager of the team, I knew this was going to be a great opportunity.
My primary goal when I set out was to learn as much as possible during my time with the organization. Along with this, I also wanted to build strong relationships with my coworkers and learn the ins and outs of the Australian work culture. Within such a small organization I knew that opportunities would present themselves. Once they did, I wanted to make sure that my supervisors felt comfortable with leaving them in my hands.
Photo: Blue Sox MLB Opening Series Cross Promotion
CW: Tell us about your internship abroad, your daily tasks and most memorable accomplishments.
DM: During my time abroad within the Australian Baseball League, I was able to watch the globalization of baseball occur first hand. By running the Blue Sox Under 9 T-Ball Tournament, I was able to further connect the Blue Sox organization to twenty-four growing baseball communities. I effectively learned how to work with my coworkers and the community to strengthen the Blue Sox brand. Working in a small organization made the environment fun and provided opportunities to take on tasks that many interns wouldn’t normally have the opportunity to experience.
You never really knew what to expect when coming into the office on a daily basis. One day I would be in the office working on our team marketing plan or answering the phone to help fans purchase tickets. The next day I would be helping prep the stadium for opening day by zip tying banners to the outfield wall or unloading trucks to stock concession stands. All of these experiences helped guide me toward the business side of sports that I was truly passionate about.
Photo: ANZ Stadium
CW: Share an example of one way in which you were able to make an impact on your internship company and one way the company and/or your colleagues made an impact on you.
DM: The major way that I was able to help my internship site was by bringing a positive attitude to the office on a daily basis. It didn’t matter what assignment I was given I was able to successfully complete it without complaining. In a small organization every person is counted upon and valued and it was great to feel like a true contributor to the organizational goals.
My experience had much more than one impact on me. The most memorable was the way that my colleagues made me feel valued. They not only showed faith in me by giving me important tasks, they also allowed me to throw out the first pitch during my last home game before returning to the States. It is a moment that I will never forget and it was the first time in my life that I can ever remember being truly speechless.
Photo: Sydney Tower Eye Skywalk
CW: What skills did you learn while studying and interning abroad that are helping you in your career now? What is it about your study abroad experience or the skills gained through this experience that employers are most interested in?
DM: I learned tons of things over the course of my internship. The most memorable thing that I learned was the importance of relationship building. As an intern it is vital to build relationships with everyone that is around you. Working in a small office allowed me to build strong relationships inside the office. Along with this working the fan services booth during game days also allowed me to build relationships with members and fans. In sports, building a positive and enjoyable experience for fans brings them back.
When I talk to employers about my experience, I highlight the importance of the relationships that I built. In my particular field building strong relationships is the key to success. When employers ask about my experience they are more curious about how I was able to adapt to a change in my environment. Ticket sales is a very fast paced job where you are constantly interacting with people. Whether it is over the phone or in person, you have to be able to connect with people in order to build a lasting relationship.
Photo: Great Barrier Reef
CW: Did your career plans change at all from what they were before you went abroad?
DM: After my experience with CAPA, my career plans did not shift. My experience confirmed that I had a passion for sports and the business side of sports. My experience helped me realize what specific areas I enjoyed most and showed me that I could achieve my goal outside of the States as well. I am still an aspiring sports executive who is dedicated to learning about the sports industry. My experience has driven me to thoughts about pursing a Master’s degree outside of the States after I get a few years of work experience under my belt.
CW: When you returned to the States, how did you use your internship to help you with your career plans? How has your career developed since you graduated?
DM: Once returning to the States, I had the opportunity to reflect on my internship abroad. I looked back at all of the different areas I gained experience in and figured out what I enjoyed most. For me, it was building relationships with fans and being able to provide a positive experience at the stadium. Since my time in Sydney, I have seen exponential developments in my career. My experience with the Blue Sox helped me land a sales internship with New England Sports Network. Along with this, my dedication to work in sports abroad also helped me land multiple interviews with professional teams. My internship abroad was a key factor that gave me the opportunity to choose an offer from various professional teams. I will continue to utilize the skills that I learned during my internship throughout my professional career.
Photo: Milford Sound, New Zealand
CW: Do you feel your study abroad and internship experience gave you an edge over people you competed with for your current job?
DM: My experience abroad definitely gave me an edge in the hiring process for my current job. My internship gave me exposure to every aspect within the front office of a sporting organization, which I could relate back to almost any position in sports. My overall experience allowed me to connect with the front office staff during a recruiting event with the Dolphins. I built strong relationships through my experience abroad that helped strengthen my network once returning home.
I noticed hiring managers were often drawn to my experience abroad working for the Sydney Blue Sox. Hiring managers were often impressed with my commitment to sports and the experience that I gained from the Australian Baseball League. My CAPA internship provided proof that I was willing to travel over 10,000 miles to gain experience in an industry that I was passionate about. I used my experience for more than a resume builder. I used it as a conversation starter. People who have traveled often become passionate about their experiences and love to re-live them. Nostalgia helped me build strong relationships with hiring managers and other professionals. Not only did I get the opportunity to re-live my own great experiences, I got to hear about the experiences of others along the way.