On Tuesday, Feb. 24th, a group of more than 50 TU students were taken to the state’s capital for the Oklahoma City Thunder’s fourth annual Career Fair.
This trip involved a free trip to OKC for the day, an opportunity for a job in the business of sports and a free ticket to the game that night.
I was one of those students.
Many sports-related companies from around the area were represented in the job fair including the Thunder, the Tulsa Oilers and the newly renamed Oklahoma City Dodgers. Many of them were looking for both full time positions and summer interns.
The University of Tulsa had arguably the biggest turnout among the groups attending the fair. Other schools were represented like Oklahoma State University and Oral Roberts, but they were limited to just their sports management department while TU offered the trip to anyone who wanted to go.
After the job fair, each group was given a tour of the Thunder’s home venue, the Chesapeake Energy Arena. This included walking on the actual floor that the games are played on and visiting all of the luxury suites that the Thunder have to offer.
Lonnie Nichols and Ryan Hock, two members of the Thunder staff, gave the tour to the TU group. They talked about how the arena and the team have changed since they came here in 2008, while trying to keep Tulsa in perspective.
“The Thunder would not be in Oklahoma without the influence of Tulsa.” Hock said when describing the decision to move the team. “When operating in a small market like Oklahoma City, you need a strong surrounding fan base from outside the city to support the team.”
They also mentioned their specialty in marketing and how they implement that into their jobs. The Thunder has a system called the Blue Alliance that builds a fan base in every Oklahoma City plus some in other states and holds events and meetings to support the team. This involves having watch parties or even traveling as a group to the games.
After the tour, everyone had time to eat dinner and explore the Bricktown District before the game began. Once the game started, everyone met back up in the same section and watched it together.
Oklahoma City won handily over the Indiana Pacers thanks in part to a triple-double from Russell Westbrook without even playing the fourth quarter.
The consensus from everyone was that it was a trip worth taking. Everything except for dinner was free of charge, so why not take that opportunity?
The only way anyone would have to pay was if they signed up but then decided not to go. I, among others, hope that this will be a recurring event for the University of Tulsa.