As a diehard basketball fan and someone who hopes to one day have a career in the sports world, it was a dream come true for me to spend three days at the Palace of Auburn Hills shadowing Lauren Miller ’03, Senior Director of Marketing for Palace Sports & Entertainment, a company comprised of the Detroit Pistons NBA franchise, The Palace of Auburn Hills arena, DTE Energy Music Theatre, and the Meadow Brook Music Festival. While I spent most of my time with the PS&E Marketing team, I was also lucky enough to meet and talk with professionals in the areas of Ticket Sales, Human Resources, Brand Networks, and Fan Experience, among others. It was truly an all-encompassing look at the inner workings of a sports franchise, and I got a real sense of how all these departments work together to create and sustain everything that happens off of the court.
I learned right away just how fast-paced a career in the sports and entertainment industry can be, as I spent the entire first day in and out of meetings on subjects that included social media presence, sponsorship events, and branding for premium stadium clubs. This first day gave me a true sense of how every little aspect of what we see in the stadium on game day is calculated, and that there is so much that goes into putting on every single game that as a fan I have taken for granted.
Over the next two days, I met with a number of different professionals in other departments of the company and learn how they operate. I observed the Pistons’ and DTE’s social media accounts, sat in on ticketing sales calls, and learned about the audio and video equipment used during games. Lauren and other employees gave me numerous tours of the arena, and as someone who has watched the NBA for his whole life it was surreal to be able to walk freely through the tunnels and on the stadium floor that are home to the Detroit Pistons.
What I most enjoyed about my brief time at Palace Sports & Entertainment was the company environment. I kept thinking to myself that everyone who worked there was so lucky to be able to go to an NBA arena to work every day, and I got the sense that many of the employees shared my same feelings. Mike Donnay, who is the Senior Director of Brand Networks, told me that he was a Pistons season ticket holder before working at the Palace, and it was clear that many of the other employees shared a passion for sports and entertainment and truly loved what they were doing. There also seemed to be a true caring for the well-being and advancement of employees within the company. Especially in Ticket Sales, there was a real emphasis on taking care of employees and helping them to work their way up through the company and achieve their goals. In such a competitive industry, it was reassuring to see an organization that truly wants to promote the success of the people they hire.
All in all, my biggest takeaway from the experience was that I really do want to pursue a career in the sports world. As I walked around the arena every day it almost seemed too good to be true. I can’t imagine coming to an arena like the Palace every day and not enjoying my job. I owe a lot to Lauren and to the Princeternship program for giving me this opportunity, as it gave me an actual taste of what it would be like to work in professional sports. Until now, it was only something I had imagined, and with these new experiences to build on I feel that I can truly go forward and pursue a sports career.