Phil Johnson lands a dream internship with the Minnesota Vikings

How to land your dream internship

Phil Johnson, a junior sports management major at North Central University, came to Minneapolis with the hopes of pursuing a career in professional athletics. The Albuquerque, N.M., native heard about NCU from a friend who attended. With family in Minneapolis, he took a leap of faith and came for a campus visit. Johnson decided to pursue sports management because of the opportunities the Twin Cities offers for professional sports.

Looking for ways to get plugged in to athletics during his first semester on campus, he sought counsel from his academic advisor Jon High. High connected him with the athletic department where Johnson was hired as a sports statistician for Rams athletics.

“I love the story the numbers tell,” says Johnson. “I found my passion for stats by working NCU games.”

Adding athletic experience to his resume, the sports enthusiast continued to seek ways to get connected. He attended multiple workshops and networking events in Minneapolis for those pursuing a career in sports, and he sought out informational interviews. “It’s all about learning to be vulnerable—going into informational meetings not knowing who they are or how it will go,” says Johnson.

The right connections

In the spring of his first year, he met with NCU’s Director of Business Relations, Chris Fleck, who connected him with a Minnesota Vikings communications contact. As he prepared for a meeting, Johnson received valuable resume and cover letter tips from a professional recruiter invited to campus for a School of Business chapel. After interviewing with the Vikings’ public relations manager, Johnson was offered a position as a game day public relations intern.

“People can help put your foot in the door, but it’s your responsibility to differentiate yourself,” recalled Johnson. “My professors are always looking for ways to set students up for success—business mixers with alumni, business chapels, Christian business breakfasts. Professor Bill Tibbetts always tell us, ‘High Expectation. High Support.’ They expect a lot out of us students, and in return, they will equip us to be successful.”

When asked what piece of advice Johnson had for students involved in internships, he advised going above and beyond what your regular tasks are. “It’s a constant opportunity to learn and network.”

Tips from the pros

Bethany Burkman ’12 works as a professional recruiter at a downtown Minneapolis CPA firm. Her company advises individuals looking for a job with these tips:

  1. Use the College & Career Center — it’s like using a search firm for your internship
  2. Have a proofread, updated resume ready. Adjust resume as needed for each job/internship application, i.e., update objective, overview, etc.
  3. Have your career goals in mind—you don’t have to know exactly what you want to do for the rest of your life, but you should have an idea of where you want to be after graduation.
  4. Send a thank-you note to the interviewer after meeting them (email is fine). We tell our executive level candidates to do this every time. It shows your initiative and keeps you fresh in the interviewer’s mind.
  5. Dress professionally for the interview. This differs slightly by industry and company. Research the culture beforehand and always dress a step above.

North Central’s Career Services office provides free resources for all students. Students can access resume assistance, interview preparation, workshops, and CareerWire, an online service that hosts full-time and part-time job postings for students.

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