Erica Luster (SMBA ’15) interns at SportRx in San Diego, a company listed in the Top 10 Best Places to Work in the U.S by Outside Magazine. She joins SportRx with SMBA Professor Dan Bruton (SportRx President), as well as fellow SMBA Alums, Stephanie Kimberling (SMBA ’14 – Search Marketing Manager) and Carlos Maldonado (SMBA ’14 – CFO). Erica has been interning since the summer of 2014 and describes her journey in the program, highlighting the valuable experience she has gained in her internship.
When I began the SDSU Sports MBA program in January, many of the students in my cohort already had their sights set on a specific area in the sports industry. For me, this wasn’t the case. At the time, I was making the transition from being a high school mathematics teacher to entering an entirely new world of sports business. In this journey, I felt a little lost and was eager to find my niche. Throughout the first half of the program, I waited for that little “light bulb” in my head to go off that would help shape the direction of my career.
The first semester of the program was rigorous and loaded with six classes – many of which I have never been exposed to, such as Accounting, Finance, Marketing, and Licensing. Our Licensing professor, Dan Bruton, has been teaching in the Sports MBA program since 2009. He is also the president of a local San Diego company called SportRx. SportRx is a sports prescription eyewear company that creates custom specs for athletes in pretty much any sport, ranging anywhere from prescription ski goggles and scuba masks, to prescription cycling glasses and motorcycling eyewear.
I first learned about the company when Professor Bruton offered the SportRx headquarters as a venue to hold the new student reception that would kick off the SMBA school year. My first impression of the SportRx office was that it must be a fun place to work. The building was equipped with a Ping-Pong table, a putting green, a shuffleboard, bicycles, sports memorabilia, Nerf guns, and let’s not forget the kegerator.
During licensing class, Professor Bruton announced he was willing to mentor any students, and since I was still searching for a career path, I took him up on the offer and contacted him. Before starting the second semester, I met with Professor Bruton at SportRx, where he gave me a crash course in Google Analytics and introduced me to Stephanie Kimberling, an SMBA ’14 alum. After our meeting, I reached out to Stephanie and began interning at SportRx in June.
My experience as an intern isn’t like many internships where you would be the Starbucks runner or the office secretary. At SportRx, I was seen as part of the marketing team from day one, and was even asked for my input in staff meetings. Throughout my internship, I have acquired an entirely new skillset, and I have learned a tremendous amount about the many different facets of ecommerce and digital marketing, such as search engine optimization, paid search, affiliate marketing, Google Analytics, WordPress, and Hootsuite. Like me, SportRx has helped many SMBA students jumpstart their careers in the sports industry – two of which are current SportRx employees, Stephanie Kimberling and Carlos Maldonado, each 2014 Sports MBA alumni.
My initial impression of SportRx being a fun place to work was proven to be true, and has been reaffirmed by Outside Magazine, as it was chosen as one of the Best Places to Work in America. Each year, Outside Magazine partners with the research firm, Best Companies Group, to conduct a nationwide search for companies that strike an ideal balance between work and play, as well as take pride in their impact on the community and environment. Corporate culture, job satisfaction, work environment, and overall employee engagement are all contributing factors in their evaluation. Outside and BCG narrow down their search to the top 100 companies in the United States, and SportRx was ranked #10 on the list of Best Places to Work 2014.
I am grateful for the opportunity to work at such an amazing company, as well as for Professor Bruton and Stephanie Kimberling’s guidance and mentoring. That little light bulb has finally gone off, and I can now say I am eager to pursue a sports business career in e-commerce and digital marketing.