Though the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' season officially takes place over a five-month period, running an NFL enterprise is a year-round operation. And while General Manager Mark Dominik and Head Coach Raheem Morris have become the new faces of the Buccaneers' front office, many other employees help keep the organization running like a well-oiled machine.
Last Friday morning, 16 local high school students were given an inside look at the operation of a professional sports franchise. The students, hailing from Canterbury, Countryside, Northeast, Plant and Tarpon High Schools, visited One Buccaneer Place through a program called Junior Achievement. They stayed for the entire day, getting an in-depth introduction to the variety of job functions that individuals perform every day at Buccaneer team headquarters.
The Junior Achievement program works with students at the elementary, middle and high school grade levels and is one of the nation's leaders in educating students about workforce readiness, entrepreneurship and financial literacy.
The students and their chaperones arrived at the team's training facility at 9:00 a.m. and were greeted by Vice President of Business Administration Brian Ford in the team's administrative conference room. There, they started the day by learning how the various aspects of the organization work together to produce a quality product for Buccaneer fans.
The visiting party then spent the next six hours — with a noon break for lunch — meeting with representatives from 12 different departments in the Buccaneers' organization. The students were given an insider's look at how business is conducted in the following departments: Accounting, Creative Services, Community Relations, Events and Team Operations, Football Operations, General Counsel, Marketing, Public Relations, Purchasing, Radio Sales, Security/Facilities and Ticketing/Sales.
Buccaneer employees spoke about the tasks that are accomplished in their departments, as well as how all the departments work together to achieve the team's goals. They answered questions regarding what they do on a daily basis and on game day, what kind of education is needed for their respective fields, what it takes to be successful in that field and the importance of such issues in the workplace as manners, ethics and networking.
"I think it really opened our eyes to how much more work goes on behind the scenes," said Jacob Rolleston, a freshman at Tarpon High School. "Everyone just sees the football and thinks everyone shows up for practice, comes and plays the game. They don't realize how much work goes into it the other six days of the week."
Added Andy Arndt, a freshman from Countryside High School: "Learning about all of the different aspects that make up the business and how it all intertwines, such as Marketing and Accounting, was beneficial as well."
As for the most enjoyable part of the day, one could argue that the team's dining staff put on the best presentation.
"I most enjoyed the lunch," joked Arndt. "But I also enjoyed [our session] in the auditorium when we reviewed all the businesses and how the Buccaneers can intertwine it with radio as well."
Whether one of the visitors will one day work for the Buccaneers or pursue a job in one of the fields they learned about is yet to be decided. At the very least, the young men and women were exposed to such possibilities, hopefully providing a memorable experience for the young adults as they prepare for the next step in their lives.