A Look Into a Virtual Sports Internship Experience

I thought I had the summer of 2020 planned out.

I knew the day I was moving out of my dorm, the day I was going to be meeting the boss for my potential internship, and the city I was going to be living in for the upcoming months. 

As a result of the outbreak of COVID-19 in the United States, multiple internship opportunities for undergraduates and graduate students in the sports industry came to a halt, leaving students scrambling to find remote opportunities. 

Enter Raleigh Anne Gray, founder and CEO of Must Love Sports (MLS), who changed my summer and many others’ by creating a remote ten-week internship program for students across the country. 

Gray, who works for the powerhouse sports and entertainment agency Wasserman, created the MLS internship program for more than 200 students. 

Over the span of six weeks in April and May, she worked tirelessly with her summer associate to secure amazing speakers and provide direct mentoring for various areas in sports such as Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion, Media, Brand Partnerships, and E-Sports.

Each week of the program offered interns panels from speakers such as Executive Vice President of Digital Media for NBA Melissa Brenner and WME Agent Cecil White, agent to powerhouse tennis player Naomi Osaka as well as many other professional athletes. 

The speaker who received honorable mention by many of the MLS alumni was former Chicago Bulls player Jay Williams. 

Williams gave a powerful conversation about his time with Duke basketball, the Bulls, and his life changing motorcycle accident.

While Williams could have looked back at his injury with regret, he instead provided an impactful message that inspired myself and others to search for the bright side in any negative situation. 

Every speaker from June to August had their own story about how they broke into the sports world, advice on how to maintain connections, and their favorite memories since working with professional athletes and major teams. 

Each had a common rule: Don’t be a jerk. 

This rule quickly became the cornerstone of the summer program and one everyone in the MLS family constantly referred back to. 

The favorite hashtag to come out of those three months, however, was #makinglemonade

Whether it was reaching out to other members of the MLS community or giving a memorable introduction for a speaker, Gray ensured everyone had the opportunity to say that they made the most out of this summer. 

Gray ended the summer with a commencement for all who completed the program, during which she surprised us with a video she created that highlighted our summer. 

As the faces of our speakers came across the screen and a graphic made for #makinglemonade, Gray included one last phrase for the end of the program: The Show Goes On. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has continued to provide challenges in a variety of situations. Yet due to Gray's amazing work and the connections and experiences we made this summer, the show will go on for over 200 students in the sports industry.

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Lillie Clifton