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Currents: sports science interns

Having a Ball Interning with the New England Patriots/Revolution

The New England Patriots, founded in 1959, have a noticeable presence here at Colby-Sawyer - on any given day, at least a few students are wearing Patriots merchandise, and during football season, the residence halls explode in cheers and jeers corresponding to the tackles, touchdowns and plays of each game.

In 1995, the Patriots gained an odd sibling in the New England Revolution, one of the ten original organizations of Major League Soccer. While the teams share the same stadium and owner, the Revolution is not as high-profile as the Patriots, though the team has started to solidify its fan base.

When the Patriots call, you listen

Pat Colbert '08 and John O'Neil '08 spent their summers interning in the Patriots and Revolution marketing division, and both had positive experiences. O'Neil, an Exercise and Sport Sciences major, was an assistant marketing coordinator and never suspected that he would end up doing his internship for such a high-profile team.

“I went to a job fair in Boston at TD Banknorth and talked to a guy for maybe 30 seconds, tops,” said O'Neil. “I gave him my resume, and they actually contacted me. I already had an internship lined up so I wasn't thinking about the Patriots, but then one day I got an e-mail, went for an interview, and got the job.”

Though O'Neil and Colbert did marketing work for both sports teams, O'Neil concentrated more on the Revolution. For the Revolution, a smaller operation, O'Neil's duties included office work, talking with sponsors, preparing the field and locker rooms as part of game operations, and setting up locations for team signings and appearances. At one point, he even filled in as the team mascot when the regular performer took ill.

Much of his work for the Patriots involved selling Patriots Extra Points, a credit card offered exclusively from the team.

While O'Neil was grateful for the opportunity to work at such a well-known organization, he admitted that the sudden nature of the opportunity caught him off-guard and made for slightly problematic paperwork.

“The deadline for internships is way too soon," O'Neil contends. "The Patriots started talking to me last May, and by then the deadline for summer internships had already passed. It was a bit of a hassle, but that's the only problem I had arranging the internship.”

While O'Neil wishes that he had gotten to do more work with the Patriots as part of his internship, he understands that the larger, more established organization already had most of the professional workforce it needed.

Despite the minor difficulties in applying for the internship, O'Neil remains in favor of Colby-Sawyer requiring students to fulfill internships in order to graduate.

“I think it's important, since it allowed me to do some networking and get my name out there. It gives me an advantage over someone who did not do an internship,” he said. “Despite it not being the most hands-on experience I could have had, just being at Gillette Stadium and seeing Robert Kraft walk past, especially with me being such a big sports fan, was a great experience.”

You say you want a Revolution?

Pat Colbert, an Exercise and Sport Sciences major, was also a marketing intern whose duties revolved around working on publicity materials, including going into the locker rooms for post-game interviews. Much like O'Neil, Colbert did not expect the opportunity of working with such a prestigious organization.

“I play soccer, so I've been following the Revolution since it first came around, but it didn't occur to me to apply for an internship there until my mom suggested it. I contacted the marketing coordinator and went for two interviews. The first was more about the organization, while the second was more about what I thought I could bring to the internship. I was offered an internship in what they call 'game day management,' but it really had a lot more to do with event management, in terms of setting things up for events. Also, all the interns helped out with The Patriots Experience, a kind of practice during pre-season which a lot of parents attend; we set up contests and games for the kids to play while the parents watched the practice.”

Colbert, like O'Neil, did work for both sports teams, but most of his duties were related to the Revolution, and he speculates that this was because the Patriots did not start until the fall, whereas the Revolution was already into its sports season. During his tenure he expressed interest in working in the office and learning more about the administrative side of the process, though he also did his fair share of “grunt work.” Additionally, because of his own soccer experience, he was assigned to coach for the summer camp program sponsored by the New England franchise.

Colbert saw his internship as a revelatory experience as he had not anticipated the level of stress involved in covering events. He still enjoyed the experience and said that he'd be interested in further exploring opportunities in sports publicity or even journalism. He also appreciated how he could take everything he learned during the internship and apply it to his classes and assignments.

Colbert was grateful for the assistance provided by his professors and advisors during the internship application process.

“Since I knew I was going into an intimidating atmosphere just from applying to the internship, I talked with a couple of my professors and told them what I was doing,” he explained. “They backed me a hundred percent and helped me with a lot of the stuff I had to do for the interview, but it took a lot of time because I hadn't expected to work there and it's one of the best sports organizations in the nation.”

Game On

Pat Colbert and John O'Neil can recognize the sound of opportunity knocking, and they certainly accumulated real-world experiences during their internships that they can use in the future. They also have a number of good stories to tell their friends while waiting for graduation and the kickoff of their careers.

-Marc LeBourdais '07