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What’s it like to work behind-the-scenes at March Madness?

“It was awesome to go from seeing March Madness on TV to working behind the scenes and seeing what our department does on the event side,” Marvin Burgos ’22 said of working during March Madness through his internship at UCLA.

After graduating from Pacific in 2022, sport management alumnus Marvin Burgos accepted an internship with UCLA Athletics, where he works in facilities and events. Over the course of his internship, he’s been able to work lots of exciting sports events—most recently, he helped set up and coordinate round two of the subregional women’s basketball tournament during March Madness.

We caught up with Marvin to ask about his internship, his Pacific experience and what advice he has for students who want to work in sports.

What made you want to go into the sports industry?

Sports have been a part of my life since I was growing up. I’ve played soccer since I was 4 years old, and if I wasn’t playing soccer, I was playing baseball, basketball or football with my friends or neighbors. I played sports all the way into high school. Towards the end of my senior year, I hurt my lower back and shied away from playing sports because I didn’t want to risk the injury getting worse. But then I started doing my research and realized that I could work behind the scenes at sports games or work for a sports organization.

Tell us about your internship. How did you find the opportunity and what made you want to apply?

I stumbled across the UCLA facilities and events internship through [Pacific’s job platform] Handshake. I looked at the job description and it was something I was interested in. Between my junior and senior year at Pacific, I did an internship with the Junior Giants [youth development sports program] mostly working in office and then setting up during game days. I enjoyed that and saw myself doing something similar in the future, so when I saw the UCLA posting, it matched what I wanted to do. I like being active and moving around, so it seemed like something I’d like to do.

What are your day-to-day responsibilities in your internship?

Day-to-day, I walk through UCLA’s sports facilities—the basketball center, the athletic training center, a couple of locker rooms within Pauley Pavilion, where the basketball teams play—and do maintenance of the buildings. On the event side, it’s more time-consuming: setting up before games and then tearing down after games. For example, there’s been a couple times where we have had a basketball game and then we have to clear the floor and set up for gymnastics. It’s a lot of getting up early and working late, but I don’t mind it. I’m working in sports, so I expected it. And I like what I’m doing.

Tell us about your experience working during March Madness.

We hosted March Madness here at UCLA for woman’s basketball. We had a week to set up everything, whether that was setting up lockers or getting signage in the concourse and outside of the concourse. It was very detailed, laborious work. But I didn’t mind—hey, I got to set up for a tournament!

It was awesome to go from seeing March Madness on TV to working behind the scenes and seeing what our department does on the event side, what production does and all the media. It’s very set and organized, but little things come up and you have to problem solve. You have to patient and be able to think on your feet.

Do you feel that your Pacific experience prepared you for your internship?

I mentioned problem-solving being a big part of my internship before, and that’s a skill I developed in my sports management classes at Pacific. A lot of my classes involved outside-the-box thinking while also following the rules and being compliant with guidelines.

I also gained facilities experience as a manager with Pacific Recreation. We would do counts, which is where you walk through a facility and do a count of the people there and make sure everything is organized and in place. If there were any issues, we’d let our supervisor know so we could be proactive about it. It’s the same thing here at UCLA. Situations occur within the crowd, and we have to manage it.

What professor had the biggest impact on you at Pacific?

My professor and adviser, Dr. Pete Schroeder. I had his classes for the majority of my four years at Pacific, and he was always supportive. We would do weekly internship reports with him where he would ask us to talk about our week and our experiences. In one of my weekly check-ins, he asked what department in sports I saw myself working in. I told him I wasn’t sure, so he asked me more questions about what I like and dislike. He guided me through it helped me realize that I like working events. He was there when I needed him and was really helpful.

What advice do you have for Pacific students who would like to work in sports?

I would just tell them to network and connect with people. It doesn’t have to be in a professional setting; it can be when you’re at a sporting event or a social gathering. You never know who you might run into and where there might be an opportunity.

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