Internships are the stepping stones between education and application, part of the foundation of experiential learning. And as far as internships go, it really doesn’t get much better than interning for the Olympic & Paralympic Games.
Trinity’s focus on experiential learning gives students hands-on opportunities to take their learning outside the classroom. These internships can be with any number of places, including everything from local San Antonio businesses to well-known powerhouses, such as the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee (USOPC).
The USOPC enables and supports American athletes in achieving their dreams for the games. The Committee hosts an annual program called FLAME, which stands for Finding Leaders Among Minorities Everywhere. This program brings college students to the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Training Center to get an up-close look at potential careers within the movement.
In the last decade, more than a dozen Tigers minoring in sport management have used their time at Trinity to intern with the USOPC or participate in the FLAME program, and these alumni have since used these experiences as launching points for their incredible careers.
“The power of sport is remarkable,” says Veronica Oviedo ’13, who both participated in FLAME and interned with the USOPC. She says that those experiences are “seeing what we learned in class come to life in more impactful ways than I could have imagined sitting in that classroom. The Olympics is that same concept on the grandest scale; watching the world come together and celebrate cultures and opportunity through sport.”
See how some of these Tigers have taken their internship experiences and used them to show their stripes in their careers:
Leslie Green ’14
As Leslie Green sat in her sport management course, ready to hear a presentation by a guest speaker, little did she know the trajectory of her life was about to change.
“My time at the USOPC wouldn’t have happened if it wasn’t for Terris Tiller ’00,” Green says. “He presented in a sport management class, and I was enamored by the opportunity to work for such an incredible organization. I was inspired by his passion and finally was able to see a route where my time as an athlete and my academic skills could be merged into a viable career.”
That viable career path started with an internship with the USOPC.
As a brand-new graduate, Green began her time with USOPC in 2014 as a digital content intern, then took on another 3-month social media internship. Afterwards, she was hired full-time as the social media assistant. During her time with the Committee, Green launched Team USA's Snapchat channel and led live social coverage at the 2015 X Games. She also live-tweeted high-profile sporting events, including the 2015 Women’s World Cup, and developed logos and branding packages for web content series, built the #TeamUSA community, and designed sports graphics for their social channels.
Green’s internship and her contributions to the USOPC led to her next position at SELF Magazine. As the social media manager, she developed SELF's social editorial calendar for the 2018 Winter Olympics. Before the Olympic Games, Green interviewed more than 20 winter Olympians in Park City, Utah, for Instagram Stories, YouTube videos, and more social content. “Such a cool experience,” Green says. “It felt like my time with the USOPC had come full circle! My favorite legacy there was ensuring that women's sports were given the coverage they deserved and the strength of women Olympians was acknowledged. Their channels still cover this content bucket today, which feels like a huge win!”
Since then, Green has joined HubSpot, a leading CRM company, as a senior marketing manager. In this role, Green develops organic social campaigns for product launches, company announcements, and branding campaigns and manages their social team's production and publishing calendars.
Christian Tovar-Vargas ’15
He didn’t know it when he came to Trinity as a first-generation McNair Scholar, but by the time Christian Tovar-Vargas ’15 graduated, he had participated in a program with one of the most well-known organizations in the world and made connections there that would continue to this day and help him for the rest of his career.
As a student, Tovar-Vargas participated in FLAME, where he learned valuable networking and career-related skills related to the sport business industry. He also helped FLAME create a diversity and promotional plan for the U.S. Tennis Association to raise Hispanic participation in tennis.
“I took these new connections and skills and added them to the great experience I got from my Trinity education,” Tovar-Vargas says. “It was a surreal experience! Some of the people I have met there continue to be some of my best friends to this day, even though we are spread across the country.”
After graduation, Tovar-Vargas went on to obtain a master’s degree in sport management and incorporated his FLAME experience and Trinity education into his work with sport teams such as the Golden State Warriors, San Antonio Spurs, San Antonio FC, and many more.
After his time in the sport business industry, Tovar-Vargas had a short stint in the fitness administration space as a trainer and gym manager, working with businesses such as Gold’s Gym and LA Fitness. Currently, his job is in the digital marketing space, where he works as a marketing coordinator for the local San Antonio marketing agency, Stirista.
Veronica Oviedo ’13
Imagine landing your self-described dream job and getting the chance to repeat a life-changing volunteer experience while you’re at it. That’s how Veronica Oviedo ’13 feels about her time with Spurs Sports and Entertainment (SSE) and the Global Sports Mentoring Program.
“Participating in the Global Sports Mentoring Program, whether while at the USOPC or at SSE, has been the most rewarding and impactful experience of my career,” she says.
In 2011, Oviedo was one of the three Trinity students to participate in the FLAME program. Then in 2013, she worked as the training sites and community partnerships intern for the USOPC. She helped plan the Multi-Sport Organization portion of the annual U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Assembly, which 37 affiliated Multi-Sport Organizations, such as the YMCA and Boy Scouts of America, attended to learn safe practices and resources to implement and utilize with their combined 75 million participants. She also coordinated brand alignment with the 18 designated Olympic training sites and wrote press releases and newsletters.
During this internship, Oviedo also served as a pseudo-mentor to a delegate from Uganda in the Global Sports Mentoring Program (GSMP), a joint program of the U.S. Department of State, University of Tennessee Center for Sport, Peace and Society, and espnW. She helped develop a business plan, promotional tools, and budget for the Uganda Women’s National Soccer Team head coach to implement in her country.
Now, Oviedo uses the skills she learned with the Olympics at SSE as the Spurs marketing manager, where she oversees a team of three focused on developing, executing, and optimizing the marketing strategy for the Spurs franchise along with Spurs Give and Spurs Sports Academy.
Oviedo has been able to serve on a global level again with the GSMP. The last two years, she’s served as a mentor for international delegates who participate in the immersive three-week program, where they create business plans to implement in their respective countries, forging paths of opportunity for women and girls through sports.
Lucky Byas ’16
Not everyone can say that they lived in the Olympic Training Center, but Lucky Byas ’16 can.
After graduation, she joined the USOPC for two years, brushing elbows with Olympic and Paralympic athletes while living in Colorado Springs at the Training Center.
Byas began her time with the USOPC as an intern for the Athlete Career and Education (ACE) program, where she worked directly with Terris Tiller ’00 and the team to plan the very first ACE Summit in Washington, D.C., following the 2016 Olympic & Paralympic Games.
In January 2017, Byas was promoted to ACE business operations coordinator, where she led a project that brought to the team Salesforce, a tool they used to track the relationships and progress of the athletes in their career and education endeavours. She also coordinated the ACE Pivot Program, where the team supported athletes in navigating the mental and physical challenges that come with retiring from sport.
“Lucky was integral to helping the team catalog and track the profiles of athletes and stakeholders served, along with the resources they received,” says Terris Tiller ’00, manager of athlete engagement and inclusion for USOPC. “Her work provided a foundation for us to build upon, expanding and deepening our relationship with athletes to serve them with greater intention, creativity, and impact. I was sad to see her move on, while proud to see her grow and thrive.”
Byas has since left the USOPC for San Francisco, California, to try her hand at consulting. She now works as a senior consultant at Slalom Consulting, where she specializes in M&A System Integration within the technology industry—with a focus on Salesforce products, thanks to her experience at the USOPC.
“I am thankful for the opportunity to learn from my Trinity professors and USOC team members about how sport, though fallible, can tell remarkable stories and bring people together like it did for me,” Byas says.