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I completed my first year at the University of California Berkeley eager for a taste of the “real world” working experience. I had been a sports nerd since playing the Wide World of Sports program at the local YMCA at the age of 5. Uniting my passion and education, I applied for a summer intern position at Upper Deck, and was fortunate enough to get the nod from Sports Marketing and Social Media Manager Chris Carlin.
I walked into the headquarters in late May, overdressed in a suit. I felt out of place in an office of employees dressed in casual attire. Yet that was the Upper Deck culture, and they owned it. It was truly amazing to work in an environment fueled by sports and entertainment. I mean, SportsCenter is nice, but the shows tend to repeat as the day goes on. Here at Upper Deck, each day brought a new task, new challenge, and new understanding of the world of sports. I grew as a thinker, and as a student.
I focused a great deal of my time with Upper Deck’s Volunteer Alliance program: helping passionate Upper Deck fans and collectors to actively preserve, pass on, and revolutionize the trading card hobby. I wanted a fan’s perspective for this past Volunteer Alliance Mission. I felt Upper Deck has done a great job connecting to its fans through its blog, and that calling upon its members to contribute their own blog entries would add another dimension that us inside the walls of Upper Deck may not notice or ever cross paths with. Alliance members sent Upper Deck tutorials, stories, and strategies of collecting cards, which in turn generated conversation and exchange between card collecting enthusiasts.
I applied my expertise in the field of lacrosse to help increase awareness for the lacrosse trading cards Upper Deck is producing. With the help of Chris Carlin and Jason Masherah, Upper Deck’s vice president of Marking and Business Development, we were able to attain a feature article on the Inside Lacrosse website for Upper Deck’s MLL Premium Jersey Cards, a huge step in a new direction.
This was my most interactive effort at Upper Deck. I sat in meetings, met one on one with Jason, and sent sample card packs to the Inside Lacrosse headquarters in Baltimore, all in an attempt to foster a relationship with a new partner in order to further an Upper Deck gem.
Hands-on experiences included creating large cards seen at trade shows. It was a great opportunity to follow the creation of a card from photography, to drafting, sizing, production, and then my portion: enlarging. With the help of current UD employee Mark Kramer, I perfected a steady hand to cut cards on thick poster backings. I dealt with some pretty amazing cards: A Michael Jordan UNC Tar Heel freshman card, a LeBron James St. Vincent-St. Mary Irish All-Time Greats Signature card, and a Wayne Gretzky Heroes card. My favorite part was of course being gifted with a couple of these poster-sized cards. It’s going to be tough to fit the large cards on the walls of my room though.
I was surprised at the sheer amount of memorabilia Upper Deck possesses. Every day it would be something new: A Tiger Woods red polo from last week’s major tournament, or the net from an LA Kings Stanley Cup Final to name a few. I relished these items, failing to recognize that this was the norm around Upper Deck.
It’s a part of the culture here. Everyone is extremely appreciative of all sports. Employees aim to fulfill their own passion with sports, working for the self satisfaction success at Upper Deck yields. They recognize that to athletes, sports are not only an obsession, but a lifestyle. They see the never-satisfied business aspect and competitive nature side each sport brings to its enthusiastic fans. That might be one of the most important things I’ve learned while working as an intern: You could work for the most successful company, but if your office does not have an upbeat and animated culture, then no one will be satisfied.
With school almost back in session, I am sad to leave. I will take with me the vast communication skills as well as their profound importance in the workplace. I will leave with a sense of entitlement: a need to apply the knowledge and skills I have accumulated and strive to compliment that with an education from UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business. I believe Upper Deck and I will part with equal gain: I have learned from them and I hope the reciprocal stands true as well.
If you are interested in working with Upper Deck as an intern for fall, winter, spring or summer semesters, email your resume to UpperDeckMarketing@upperdeck.com. Hopefully you will be able to enjoy the experience I did.