The Browns are bidding adieu to their first-ever batch of Haslam Sports Group Fellows after a full year where they worked with both the Browns and Columbus Crew organizations.
Kritagya Arora from Ohio State University, Anthony Charles from Cornell University, Faith Lackey from University of North Carolina and Amber McElrath from Syracuse University all joined the Browns last summer for a fellowship experience that allowed them to work in multiple departments of the HSG umbrella. The group assisted in Administration, Marketing and Operations and Sales groups, with each of them receiving opportunities to spend extra time in a preferred category to maximize the fellowship experience.
"Having that well-versed, rotational experience was super important for me," Charles said. "It was great to hop around and see what I enjoyed, what I maybe didn't have as much interest in, and learn about future opportunities I might want to go after based on the things I worked on."
The Diversity and Opportunity Fellowship Program was put in place to improve the pipeline for diverse talent into the sports industry. These individuals were selected based on a nationwide search, in collaboration with multiple universities, as well as executives from both the Browns and Crew who assisted with program development and recruiting efforts.
Each of the four fellows worked closely with executives and front office members with both teams. Their duties across the fellowship included assisting in community relations, analyzing ticketing and sales data, working with public relations staff, exploring ways to enhance the gameday experience and working with the operations staff with the Crew, among other responsibilities.
"We really got to learn about all the different areas and how they work together, which is just an experience that, a lot of times, you don't get to see," McElrath said. "It was really cool to see how each of the departments function and collaborate, and I feel like that made me a better teammate."
Each of the fellows were able to use their experiences to land their next full-time position.
Charles is working as a Strategic Advisory Analyst at CAA ICON, a management consulting firm for public and private sports and entertainment facility owners and operations, professional franchises and leagues. Arora will become a risk analyst for Goldman Sachs. McElrath and Lackey both received full-time positions with the Columbus Crew — McElrath is now a marketing events coordinator, and Lackey is a player care and team operations coordinator.
In addition to using their roles to land their next career opportunities, the fellows were proud to represent the first class of the HSG Fellowship and work with employees toward growing the experience for future fellows. Before the program ended, the group presented the fellowship committee with a presentation including their feedback about how they felt their experience at HSG went, and the group wants to be a resource for fellows in the future, too.
"You can use it as a badge of honor," Lackey said. "As I pursue my next steps in my career, I'll always reflect back and remind myself that HSG was my first start. They really allowed me to catapult my career, so I need to be sure that I pour back into this program continuously, even if I'm not in Ohio. That's a priority and something me and the rest of the fellows should do as well."
The fellows' network and experiences within HSG were imperative in springing them to their next step, and even though the fellowship is over, the relationship and importance of what they've accomplished for the ownership group will last.
"It's been a truly special experience," Arora said. "HSG was highly influential in helping me network within the industry and get this role. We've been able to see all the work that happens to make sure we keep moving in the right direction. We've all seen the sports on TV or at the stadium, but everything in the background is what's running the show."