As President and member of Canisius College’s AWMC, I have learned the importance of networking. This year was our second annual networking field trip. Last year we visited First Niagara, New Era and UNYTS. We met with professionals in the communication field and learned a great deal about what they do and how they got to where they are today. This year, AWMC visited Roswell and The First Niagara Center to tour the home arena for the Buffalo Sabres and Buffalo Bandits. Unfortunately I was unable to attend the Roswell trip, but made it to the arena.
Manager of Community Relations and Canisius alumna, Teresa Belbas, met us in the lobby of the arena. We were greeted with facts about the Sabres and arena, and were given free hats and a Sabres Yearbook! What I (we) thought was going to be a small tour of the communications offices turned out to be a tour of the entire arena. We got to go inside the Sabres locker room and the extensive (and multi million dollar) lounge the players use. Throughout the tour, Teresa told us about her time at Canisius and how she got to where she is today. I learned that it takes time to work up to where you want to be and also that it is important to NETWORK. She explained how she worked in ticket sales for the Buffalo Bills and knew a guy who went over to the Sabres. That is how she got her job. Maintaining good connections will always be beneficial somewhere down the road. She explained the pros and cons of her job and how in Community Relations, it isn’t always smiles and giving. Foundations only get so much money and sometimes you have to turn people down, no matter how hurt or sick they are. Regardless of that, she explained how the team is always signing sticks and merchandise to give away. I was touched to hear player Cody Hodgson gets really involved with giving and once matched a big donation for Bald for Bucks. This to me shows that working in Community Relations is a tough job, but the perks outweigh the not-so-easy times.
At the end of the tour, we met with Vice President of Public and Community Relations, Mike Gilbert. I really liked listening to what Mr.Gilbert had to say because he didn’t hold back. He told it like it is. After graduation he was offered a full-time, unpaid internship. Did he take it? Yes. I asked him if he thought it was worth it and he said sometimes you have to do things you don’t want and bust your butt to make connections. Luckily for him, his internship landed him a job and he’s moved up ever since. He explained how working full time was tough, especially working part time for money on top of that. Working while going to school shows you are able to multitask and manage your time wisely.
This networking field trip surprised me and really helped me understand that you have to work hard to get to the top. Networking is really important, especially for young professionals my age.