MENTORSHIP SHAPE-UP:  Students meet their instructors for new class of college mentorship program

When UNLV student Meredith Hall missed the deadline by one day to apply for the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority’s (LVCVA) inaugural College Mentorship Program last year, she couldn’t wait to apply for the second class, which got underway earlier this month.

Hall and 30 other students will be mentored by local sports marketing leaders and other special events and tourism experts in the six-month program. Students met their mentors during a luncheon Oct. 16 at the Las Vegas Convention Center — the first of several networking events planned.

Hall, who is finishing up a juris doctor degree and starting a master of business administration program, can’t wait to blend her passions on a career path.

“I’ve always been interested in sports, and I wanted to go to law school to pursue how sports and law could be combined,” Hall says. “I was intrigued by this particular program that connects students with working professionals in that field.”

Hall, who will be mentored by Jennifer Roberts, associate director of UNLV’s International Center for Gaming Regulation, says the program is a great way not only to match students to people in their field of interest but also connect those already in the industry.

That connectivity is among the program’s goals, says Lisa Motley, director of sports marketing and special events for the LVCVA (which produces Las Vegas Newswire.) “We’re hoping this talent pool is developed and that if the Las Vegas Motor Speedway needs an intern, they can call the Golden Knights and ask, ‘Hey was your mentee a great candidate?’”

In addition to the Golden Knights and the Speedway, representatives of other sports organizations such as the Las Vegas Aces, the Las Vegas Aviators, UFC and the incoming Raiders will mentor students. Resorts such as Caesars Entertainment, MGM Resorts International, Boyd Gaming Corp. and the Fremont Street Experience are also participating.

The Raiders’ delegation at the kickoff lunch included Mark Shearer, the team’s chief revenue officer; Rosie Bone, senior vice president, community relations and public affairs; Brandon Clark, marketing director; and Taylor Silva, director of business development. They took turns providing information and advice to the students.

Shearer presented information about how the Raiders and Allegiant Stadium will affect tourism in Southern Nevada. He noted other aspects of marketing such as appreciation lunches for construction crews working on the stadium and the Raiders’ headquarters and training facility being built in Henderson; videos that go behind the scenes of stadium construction; charitable work; and watch parties.

He also discussed selling personal seat licenses (a fee that entitles the holder to the right to buy season tickets for a certain seat in a stadium) and negotiations for stadium-naming rights.

“I oversee four buckets, but mostly suites, tickets, partnerships,” Shearer says, describing to the students his role in the often-chaotic runup to the Raiders’ relocation. “My title is chief revenue officer (but) I spend almost zero time on revenue. I know that sounds odd, but right now I consider myself a professional plate spinner. I literally run around project to project, moment to moment. As we get closer to the stadium opening, that’s (an even) further departure from your job description.”

Bone advised the students to be aware of all opportunities to make a good impression in the workplace because someone is always watching and could champion their advancement even without the student knowing.

“My department is often the catchall for projects sometimes,” Bone says. “One of the things that my team is learning through relocating is that no job is beneath you. … Lean into everything you can.”

The most important piece of advice Silva had for students? “Find what you’re really passionate about. My boss likes to say, ‘(Find) the intersection of what you’re good at and what you truly enjoy doing.’ If those things intersect and there’s a position that has those criteria, focus on that even if it happens to be in a totally different industry (than a sports organization).”

Clark agreed that versatility is essential to those starting out. “Flexibility, grinding and networking” are the key words, he says. Young professionals should be versatile, have the ability to move and look for any opening, even if it means accepting a role that may not be initially satisfying, and then work hard.

One student who took advantage of the inaugural program to land an internship is Aaron (A.J.) VanMeetren, a graduate assistant in the UNLV Athletics Department who focuses on NCAA compliance. After being mentored by Brendan Dolby, the Golden Knights’ director of corporate partnerships, VanMeetren interned at the LVCVA over the summer, working on sports marketing and special events.

VanMeetren, who shadowed Dolby for one of the Golden Knights’ games, says he bounced around from department to department that night to understand how game-day production, corporate sponsorship and marketing work as smoothly as a well-executed power play on the ice.

“I realized how intertwined they are. They all have to be on the same page for anything to work. …. The whole experience was unbelievable.”

To offer feedback on this story or suggestions for future stories on Las Vegas Newswire, contact Managing Editor Steve Bornfeld at SBornfeld@lvcva.com.




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By Paul Szydelko / Contributor to Las Vegas Newswire

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