The Bay State Games are a nonprofit foundation that produces Olympic-style amateur sports festival for athletes of all ages and abilities. Established in 1982, Bay State’s Summer Games were set to celebrate their 39th consecutive year in 2020 before COVID-19 forced its cancellation.
Looking ahead to 2021, the Bay State Games is ready to kick off a new season with several open internship opportunities. We recently connected with Kevin Cummings to learn more about Bay State Games and how current students can get involved.
How would you describe the culture of working at Bay State Games?
Kevin: “I recently sat down with my full-time staff, two of which were interns within the last three or four years, and I asked them this question because I think I know what it is, but I was really curious to find out what they thought it was.
Some of the things we came up with were: Family-oriented, we really do support and include everyone, whether they’re an intern or full-time, in the decisions that are going on within the organization.Everyone’s opinion matters. We also involve everyone in what’s going on and we try to have fun at the same time.
The other word which really describes the culture is dynamic. Every day is different. We can sit down on a Tuesday afternoon and say, okay, tomorrow Wednesday morning the priorities are this and we walk in at 9 and we don’t even get to the priority list until 5 because of all the other fires that have come up. It’s a very dynamic and ever-changing atmosphere.
We’re also casual, but professional. You don’t wear a suit at Bay State Games, but we expect everyone to conduct themselves in a professional manner. As I tell young students all the time, you don’t have to have an extended amount of professional experience to conduct yourself in a professional way. We preach that a lot.
Collaborative is another word that kind of describes the culture of the games. You might have specific responsibilities, but if someone ever needs help in an area, we all help. I might be the Executive Director, but I still unpack boxes off of a truck or help with mailing, or whatever needs to be done.
A final thing that we thought about was: We’re a nonprofit organization. We have limited resources and we have to be extremely resourceful and we have to be patient and we have to be innovative. I think that, you know, that’s the type of atmosphere that we work under. I think in a lot of ways it bonds us together even more because we have to come up with unique ways to get things done where other organizations may have more resources than we do.”
What sort of internship opportunities does the Bay State Games offer?
Kevin: “Our internship program is a 10-week program and we’ll hire about six or seven interns each year. They’re really on two tracks: We have an Operations intern track and we have a Communications and Public Relation track…
The Operations positions basically oversee the preparation and execution of four to seven Summer Games competitions. Interns are assigned sports and they are overseeing those sports for the length of their internship. They will also serve as a site director for assigned venues. They will communicate with sports coaches and coordinators to determine competition needs…
The Communications position is really involved in all aspects of how we promote and record information on the games. They’ll produce content for our media partners, they’ll update our website, they will work on social media press releases, they’ll help maintain our media contact list. They’ll also collect and post Bay State Games results during competitions. They’ll help create scouting guides and competition programs.
That’s one of our biggest pluses for the communications position. These students that intern with us are actually building a physical portfolio of collateral that they have produced.”
What sort of skills or skill sets do you look for in applicants?
Kevin: “We feel like we can teach the skills. We can teach certain skill sets, but there are certain things you can’t teach. Those are the things we look for.
The number one thing is passion. If you have passion for what you want to do, it’s just that. That’s all an employer can ask for because if you’re a student and you want to be able to create a career in sports and you show passion for your event, then as an employer, I’m motivated to help because I know what you’re really into and what you want to do…
Another big thing we look for is professionalism. You don’t have to be a business professional to act professional. The concern that we have is that, as a Bay State Games intern, you might be the representative of our organization at the event you’re working at. If you’re in charge of soccer and you’re in Waltham, I may not be there. A full-time staff person may not be there. You are representing us and so it’s really important that you know the right way to present yourself.”
Do you have any advice for students interested in applying to your internships?
Kevin: “If you want to get involved in sports management and events work, just work events. It doesn’t make a difference what you do as long as it shows your passion. There are so many opportunities in Massachusetts to get involved with. You’ve got the Boston Marathon, the Head of the Charles, NCAA Championships, and all these different things that are going on. There are tremendous opportunities to just get yourself out there and get involved…
The other really important thing is to start creating your network. It’s never too early to create your network.
One last thing. I call it the 80% rule. Don’t sell yourself short in the job market. If you’re a basketball player, you have a passion for basketball and you want to get involved in sports. Well, if you can run a good basketball tournament, 80% of what goes into a good basketball tournament is the same thing that goes into a good swimming competition or a lacrosse event or a badminton event. You know, the elements of success for all those events is the same.
If you’re good at putting on basketball events, you’re also good at putting on soccer. You just need to find the 20% person who can tell you how badminton is played. But you know that you need a venue and insurance and volunteers and medical coverage and all those other elements.If you approach it that way, you can translate your skills to open up more opportunities in the job market.”