Using software to manage soft wear

A typical morning for Joan Sojka began with stereotypical intern tasks, like answering emails and taking phone calls. And her answers usually dealt with size requirements for scarves. She did a lot of chatting with knitting clubs. But the work didn’t stop there. And the difference between her stint with the Indianapolis Super Bowl Host Committee and a typical internship is that Joan was the resident expert.

Super Bowl XLVI is coming to Indianapolis on February 5, 2012, and it’s rare for the big event to come to a cold-weather city. A plan for keeping the many volunteers warm meant recruiting even more volunteers—people willing to knit.

Software wiz

Host Committee officials listened to her innovative ideas, and she was able to retool the processing system for a “Super Scarves” program. “Super Scarves is a community service initiative that is unique to the 2012 Super Bowl,” Joan says. “No other Super Bowl has ever done anything quite like this before.It gives everybody the opportunity to be a part of it. The idea behind Super Scarves is to get at least 8,000 scarves knitted for the volunteers who are going to be working the Super Bowl,” she says, “so that the scarves become part of the volunteers’ uniforms. I also processed the scarves as they would come in and enter them into the database. I actually ended up revamping it and making the system even more efficient.”

“It hasn’t quite set in how huge this is. I’m actually from Ohio. So, for me, getting the internship and learning more about the state of Indiana and the city of Indianapolis was really, really eye-opening.” Joan says that her preparation at UIndy was invaluable. “All the computer skills I learned from my computer information systems classes helped a lot.”The first official Super Scarves intern, Joan also acted as the point person for those with questions. Joan processed more than 2,000 scarves herself, and her efforts helped bring the nonprofit halfway to its ambitious goal before she finished her internship.

One of her professors in UIndy’s School of Business, Jerry Flatto, has incorporated Microsoft Dynamics into the Information Systems curriculum. And that’s translating to job opportunities for students like Joan and the School’s graduates. Joan said that her internship with the School of Business, where she’d helped implement a new database, made her extremely comfortable when it came time to overhaul the Super Scarves processing system.

“I know it was my experience with the software that helped me get my internship with the Super Bowl Host Committee,” Joan says.  Super Scarves gave her the opportunity to meet influential women in sports, coaches, and even the mayor of Indianapolis, Greg Ballard. And though she isn’t originally from Indiana, she embraced the culture.

“Hoosier Hospitality—that phrase came up so much when I was going places to pick up scarves or interview people. They always said: ‘Well, we’re just showing our Hoosier Hospitality.’”

Résumé stuffer

Joan’s very grateful for the job she was able to do and the preparation she received. She’s optimistic about her future, too.

“Having this on my résumé really stands out to employers, and it’s gotten me a lot of good opportunities as far as jobs go,” she says. “I made a ton of good connections while I was there.”

Another thing that will look good on her résumé: the Super Bowl Host Committee asked Joan to continue her internship and come back to the project this fall. The Super Bowl is just a few months away now, and knitters are feverishly at work completing the full complement of 8,000 scarves on time. Joan is excited to see them being used in February.

“I can’t wait to watch the game, because I know that when I see someone with a Super Scarf on, that’s when it will really hit me. Wow—I did that.”

—Andy Gipson ’12