August 14, 2008
Written by Jessica Benham
What began as a graduate program requirement has turned into the experience of a lifetime for one recent Texas Tech University graduate.
Sean Kern, who is from Wichita Falls and received his master's degree in sport management in May, began a semester-long internship in Colorado Springs, Colo. with the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) in January that has now taken him to Beijing for the 2008 Olympic Games.
"The atmosphere surrounding the games is ridiculous," he said. "I've never been involved in something of this magnitude, so experiencing the entire atmosphere and all the excitement is what I'm looking forward to the most. The work experience in this environment is something that I don't think I could get anywhere else. I mean, this is one of the largest sporting events in the world. Overall this experience has been incredible. I still can't believe I'm out here."
Throughout his internship in Colorado, he kept dropping hints that he would like to go to Beijing for the games, but he did not think a spot would become available. About three days after graduation his hopes became a reality.
Kern said he first learned of the opportunity through a friend who worked as an intern with the USOC in 2007. His graduate program required an internship, and he thought that the committee would be a great place to start. He applied last November, and after a phone interview, he was awarded a position with the Member and Event Services department.
He said that when the head of the department called him into her office and asked if he would like to join her team for the games, he already knew the answer.
"I didn't even have to really think about it," he said. "I told her yes immediately. I was really excited to get to experience something like this."
On July 14, Kern arrived in Beijing and will remain until Aug. 30.
"To come to the Olympics is a great honor for me," he said. "I never thought that I would be doing something like this. I feel really blessed because I get to experience a few of the events, as well as the behind-the-scenes action."
Kern works at the U.S.A. House, which offers hospitality to the board of directors, donors, VIPs, sponsors and athletes from the USOC. He said for the first two weeks they were busy setting up the house that is staged in a building that once housed a night club and a restaurant.
Once the house was set up, he began working with a team of three others on their transportation pool, where they are in charge of getting their board of directors, donors and others to the different venues and events that they have to attend.
"This doesn't seem like a very difficult job, but we can't speak to any of our drivers because they all speak Mandarin, while we speak English," he said. "Along with that, the people we are responsible for are constantly moving from place to place for different events. Plus, our staff has transportation needs as well. It's not such a bad job though, I've loved being out here in the mix since day one."
Kern said that he gets along well with the team of people he works with, and they are able to make their work enjoyable.
"The people that I've been working with are awesome. It really is like a second family," he said. "We all know what our job is, and we get it done, but we have a lot of fun in the process."
Since arriving in China, he has been to Tiananmen Square, and hopes to visit the Forbidden City and the Temple of Heaven after the games are finished. But, his favorite memory so far was getting to see the Great Wall.
"The pictures that I've seen don't do it justice," he said. "That place is incredible."
John Miller, associate professor of sport management, was Kern's graduate advisor and professor. He said Kern was one of eight to 10 interns with the USOC asked to go to Beijing.
"This provides global exposure not only for the sport management graduate program, but also for Texas Tech overall as a place that students can learn and grow," Miller said. "When you consider that Sean was among a select group to be asked to do this, I believe it puts Texas Tech in a very positive light nationally and internationally."
CONTACT: Sean Kern, alumni, Department of Health, Exercise and Sport Sciences, native of Wichita Falls, firstname.lastname@example.org