Alex West – a University of Notre Dame Alum from Mishawaka, Indiana – was chosen as this week’s Student of the Week for his taking over the day-to-day operations of the Sports MBA Blog starting over networking week as well as producing the San Diego State Sports MBA podcast over the last few months.
How has your previous work/internship experience prepared you for this program?
Prior to the SMBA program, I worked for a year and a half as a production intern at Fighting Irish Digital Media (FIDM) in the University of Notre Dame Athletic Department. While the primary function of my job was to edit video, produce and broadcast live sporting events, and oversee the management of our undergraduate student workers, ultimately the most valuable experience I learned from FIDM was how to work in an intense sports environment. I learned that sports is a 7-day a week job, with long and sometimes exhausting hours. But I also learned from that experience that I would rather work 70+ hours a week in a sports job that I loved than 40 hours a week in a “regular” job.
How have you adjusted since coming from Indiana?
Moving to San Diego was a big adjustment to me. I had grown up, went to school, and worked within the same area for my entire life prior to moving to San Diego. I didn’t know a single person in San Diego when I decided to start the program at San Diego State. However, I knew that in order to full reach my potential as a professional I would need to move out of my comfort zone. Naturally I had many growing pains along the way, but I can say that now looking back over the last 9 months, the adjustments have helped make me a stronger person as well as a more comfortable in and out of the classroom. I’ve found that I’ve gained a new appreciation for my hometown while learning what it takes to function as a professional in a big city, thousands of miles away from home.
After the program, what area of sports would you like to be involved in?
I’m pursuing a career in digital media distribution management. Of course, whenever I tell anyone that, they immediately ask “what does that mean?” I’m interesting finding out the latest ways for us to consume sports content on our portable devices, video game consoles, smart TVs, and other streaming devices. As digital content becomes a major component for the media sections withinevery professional and college sports team, fans are going to be looking for the most convenient ways to keep up with their teams. In addition, we as fans are looking for the easiest ways to watch the games without having to shuffle our devices. Having worked on the content creation side of the sports media industry, I want to make the transition to digital content distribution in order to find the most state-of-the-art and effective ways for fans to ingest the content that they want the way that they want it. Through talking with industry experts, I have learned that the field combines an in depth knowledge of the sports and digital media industries with the skills in marketing, sales, and corporate partnerships that are all an integral part of an MBA program. I also think that it’s exciting to work in an industry that I will constantly be having to learn new technologies and methods to be on the cutting edge of the sports media industry. For me it is amusing to think that in 5-10 years, all of the technology we are currently using could be obsolete and replaced by something new than we haven’t even thought of yet.
When searching for grad schools, what was something that stood out to you about SDSU’s SMBA?
What immediately stood out to me was the pace of the program without losing any of its value. The digital media industry is constantly changing. I knew that if I wanted to be competitive in the industry, I needed to get back into it as quickly as possible, something that a longer program wouldn’t allow me to do. I knew that one, extremely intense year in the classroom would help me get back into the digital media sphere than a longer MBA program would allow me. In addition, I knew that an MBA would have more value for me when compared to others Media Studies Masters programs would because of the aspects of analytics and other prevalent business concepts included in an MBA. I’m excited start utilizing these skills once we wrap up classes in November and we begin our 795 consultancy projects out in the field.
Where do you see yourself 5 years from now?
Five years from now I would like to see myself being a valuable asset to a sports television network in their digital sphere. Every conversation I have had with someone who works in digital has said to make sure to find out a way to show that I can add value to a company. I believe that using the skills I’m developing in SMBA I will be suited to handle a variety of different areas in and around digital that include marketing, analytics, and sales. I know that the digital industry is incredibly fast moving, so I know that I need to be able to rapidly adapt with the industry in order to provide the most value. I believe that having an Sports MBA will help me be well equipped for this in the years to come.