Internship Spotlight – Jake Staats, Miami HEAT

Eller PDC Coordinator Student Stories

Jake Staats is a Marketing major and will graduate in May 2020.  This summer, he interned for Miami HEAT in Miami, Florida as the Corporate Parternships/Marketing Intern. His employer did not provide any housing or transportation services, but it did not make his experience any less enjoyable. 

How did you get this internship? About a month after graduating high school, I reached out to tons of contacts I had gathered during high school in order to begin officially networking with people in the business world and more specifically, sports/entertainment which was the industry I was interested in. After tons of emails, I finally was put in contact with someone who knew John Vidalin, who up until July of this year was the Executive Vice President and Chief Revenue Officer of the Miami HEAT (now The Chief Operating Officer for Business Operations of the Baltimore Orioles). The person I was able to connect with passed my name along to John who agreed to meet with me. In October of 2016, I flew out to Florida and was fortunate enough to have some family friends that allowed me to stay on their couch while I pursued this meeting with a powerful sports executive. The meeting went great and John offered me an internship there. Due to my age, however, I had to wait a whole year considering they typically only take seniors and I was a first-semester freshman.

What was a typical day like? The best part about this internship was there was no normal day. Every day there was a new event going on at the arena or new project to work on. For the most part, my job entailed me being able to help out the corporate servicing team with any marketing activations they may need for a client, assisting the premium servicing team with concerts and making sure that any guests using the suite level or courtside lounges left having their experience exceed any expectations they had. I also helped oversee anybody working in guest services during an event and making sure their quality of work whether it was security or food and beverage was up to the arena’s standards. In addition to all of that, I worked with the digital innovation team on developing an updated version of the existing mobile application for the Miami HEAT that would allow season ticket holders to access their accounts and see a variety of new benefits that come with being a season ticket holder.

What was your favorite part of the experience? My favorite part was probably being able to pitch an idea to the entire company that would allow for season ticket members to have a specific portal for themselves on the existing application. I was a lot of hard work but ultimately I was able to tackle a project that resulted in praise from the entire company and will be implemented this upcoming season. I also really enjoyed working in one of the busiest arenas in the world in the heart of downtown Miami. The experience of being apart of a championship winning team and venue that puts on amazing concerts was something that I loved and will never forget.

Did you work on a big project? I worked on a project throughout the entire summer that was an initially just a task to engage current season ticket holders and attract new ones that then developed into creating and developing an entirely new feature in the already existing mobile application. The new feature that was developed by myself and some members of the digital innovation team consisted of adding a folder in the already existing menu for the application. This new folder would take season ticket members (if you are on) to a new page using their own log-in credentials that would allow them to see a variety of new benefits and also see the new tier system in place that we implemented as well. Some of the new concepts were things like mobile ordering/pick-up at concessions, Uber discount codes, and exclusive gate entry, all of which show a projected increase in revenue for the team this upcoming season. (There is much more that was implemented but that is a little synopsis of everything.) After the idea was presented I was fortunate enough to be awarded the “MVP of the Internship Program” by the HEAT.

What did you find most challenging about your internship? Working in a new city in a different culture was something that at times was difficult to navigate. Other than that just fighting the learning curve at times was tricky as well.

What advice do you have for other students looking for a similar internship? Be persistent! Never think that a meeting for connection is too small because you never know where it might lead to. As for an internship in sports be a sponge when it comes to trying to learn as much as you can. Try and be someone that all of the employees there can rely on and really show that you want to be there. I loved being there I was so that wasn’t difficult, but having a positive attitude about any task you are given can go a long way too. When your internship is over you should have no regrets because you seized every opportunity that came your way and made as many connections as you could.

How did Eller prepare you for your internship? Eller prepared me for this internship by actually being a great example of what the business world is like. Eller has allowed me to learn just as much outside of the classroom as you can inside one by having so many extra-circular involvements opportunities in every category so you can get your feet wet in just about every aspect of business if you want to. When I arrived at the HEAT I felt confident about what I knew and how to conduct myself in a business setting from Eller.