The champions’ champion

It’s not every day that an internship with the NCAA lands in your lap, but that’s just about what happened to senior Niki Lobo.

Dr. Jennifer VanSickle, an associate professor of kinesiology at UIndy, recommended Niki for the year-long internship. Starting last August, Niki, a double-major in sports marketing and sport management, became the marketing extern for Championships and Alliances at the NCAA headquarters in downtown Indianapolis.

“I act as a liaison between the NCAA and the host organizations of championships,” explains Niki.

At the NCAA, Niki is part of a team that helps colleges and universities to market the national championships in different sports and divisions across the NCAA. She and the school hosting the event develop a marketing plan that may include print, web, television and radio ads, and more.

Off & running

Niki_Lobo_NCAA_0317Last semester, Niki worked with five fall championships, including Division I women’s field hockey, hosted by the University of Maryland, and 10 championships during the winter season, including the Division II men’s basketball, hosted by the Old Dominion Athletic Conference. She even had the opportunity to work with the University of Alaska at Fairbanks as they hosted the National Collegiate men’s and women’s rifle championship. She is working with 10 more championships this spring.

For each championship, Niki and her team work on a marketing strategy for the host school. Without this type of assistance, says Niki, many schools would not be nearly as prepared to host an event as large as an NCAA national championship.

“This is such a great experience for me and I am lucky to be in this internship,” she says. “The NCAA staff are helpful and friendly and I’ve definitely learned a lot. I’ve learned how to communicate better with people, and I know that having experience with real marketing plans will help me in the future, especially if I get a marketing-related job.”

The right connections

Niki says her close relationships with her professors have also been integral to many of her opportunities, especially with the NCAA.

“UIndy has prepared me well for this internship,” she says. “All of my courses through the sport management program have got me thinking about event management. My sports marketing classes through the School of Business exposed me to the actual marketing program, and that helped me understand the organization strategies and where they came from.”

Niki_Lobo_NCAA_0239She also gives credit to her extracurricular activities including her involvement as the Sports and Recreation chair of the Campus Program Board, the student-run organization that brings events and entertainment opportunities to UIndy students. She said that her work with CPB gave her first-hand experience with the collegiate aspect of sports and event management.

“I had to develop my own marketing strategy for those events that were put on through CPB,” she says. “I then used ideas from what I did
to help me communicate with the championship hosts and tell them what they might be able to do on a college campus.”

Niki also sees the correlation between her internship and jobs that she might want to have in the future. She says that the real-world experience of working as an intern is only one of the many benefits of working with the national organization.

“This has really opened my eyes to the collegiate side of sports and such careers as athletic director,” she says. “Before this internship, I thought that I only wanted to work with professional sports, but now I’m thinking about many options. I don’t know what my dream job is, but hopefully this is getting my start in the sports industry and I can just stick with it.”

—Robert Hadley ’17