Fenway Sports Management’s new virtual sports business education program won’t only serve as a learning experience for the hundreds of participants the sports marketing agency expects to partake—it’ll create a massive talent pool for those under the Fenway Sports umbrella. The Boston Red Sox, Liverpool Football Club, NESN, and Roush Fenway Racing are also part of the same corporate family as Fenway Sports Management, or FSM.
FSM’s traditional summer internships and year-long associate programs that take six to seven “apprentices” annually typically feed the company a pool of qualified, familiar resumes for hiring. When FSM has an opening, company president Mark Lev the company “more often than not” turns to their list of past associates and interns. With both opportunities paused due to the pandemic, refilling the job pool became harder to do. So the company created a new—and already much more expansive—source.
Within 24 hours of announcing the free, 14-week Fenway Sports Management University program, more than 500 college students, recent graduates and industry professionals signed up. Nearly 1,000 people registered within a week and FSM expects more to join before the program begins on September 23. The curriculum focuses on both education and connection to provide industry insights and opportunities to those impacted by school and work interruptions due to COVID-19.
“Our internship and associate programs really are an opportunity for us to bring talent in and work closely with young people. Ultimately when it comes time for us to fill positions within the Red Sox or FSM, it’s a great pool of talent who we have experience working alongside, seeing their work ethic and interpersonal skills and so on,” said Lev. “So talent development was certainly part of [creating the online program] but also altruistically, the idea was to figure out how we could provide some value to those who had been accepted and to the hundreds who had applied. We want these young people to still be able to build a personal network that can be a resource for them when they enter the workforce.”
The network development is two-fold: FSM gets to build out its database of potential hires, and participants get to connect not only with FSM leaders and speakers but also with one another. FSM structured the programming to prioritize relationship building and Lev said those who participated in this summer’s beta version of the offering (developed in partnership with the Red Sox) took advantage of that arrangement.
Nearly 300 participants completed the six-week beta program, which was open to a pool of internal candidates–including game day staff, summer interns and FSM Associate prospects. Red Sox executive vice president and CFO Tim Zue, FSM executive vice president and chief business development officer John Clark, and Red Sox assistant director of amateur scouting Devin Pearson were among those who taught courses during the trial run.
The official FSMU program will touch on core disciplines within the industry including broadcasting, sports journalism, community relations, finance, human relations, venue and team operations, marketing, athlete representation, sponsorships and sales, collegiate athletics and more. Leading sports executives will teach the courses, giving participants unique access to the upper echelons of executives within the FSG portfolio and from FSM’s property and brand clients at no cost to them.
“What this really costs us is people’s time, and from here it’s going to be working on securing the people, whether its inside the Fenway Sports Group or outside, getting all of that organized and setting the curriculum,” Lev said of what comes next for FSMU until classes begin. “It’s really a 360-degree perspective on the industry across a lot of different disciplines but we’re well on our way to having everything in place and are excited about some upcoming alliances and partnerships for the program.”
(This story has been updated with details of the program registration in the third paragraph.)