Twelve students and three chaperones from Northeast High School spent most of Wednesday learning how the Bucs do business
Jessica Susana, a 17-year-old junior at Northeast High School, is several years into the school's Academy of Finance program and is already eyeing a career in accounting. For some time, she has assumed that continuing on that path would lead her to job crunching numbers at a large firm.
On Wednesday, however, Susana visited the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' new state-of-the-art headquarters on Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard and discovered, nestled right there between public relations and administration, an accounting department.
Suddenly, this industrious prep scholar could see her future branching out into any number of directions.
"I learned that there's different opportunities out there," said Susana. "When you hear of the Buccaneers you just think of a football team, you don't think of the accounting department. It's kind of like an eye-opener for me that there's more out there than just a firm. I can actually be working for the Buccaneers, the Yankees, the Magic…so it was good."
"It" was a trip from the St. Petersburg academy to the Bucs' offices in Tampa for an in-depth, six-hour peek into the operation of a professional sports franchise, as part of a program called Junior Achievement Job Shadowing. According to Debbie Fischer, the Academy's directory, the school arranges about three or four job shadowing trips per school year, but on most occasions the destination is a financial institution.
"We went a little out of our realm a little bit this time," said Fischer, echoing Susana's sentiment that the trip could kindle new areas of interest for the students. "I think it was a great eye-opener for all the kids. I saw individuals here that are very passionate about their work, and I am hoping that that rubbed off on my students, so as they begin to look at next year, and continuing their education, they'll select a particular area that they are very passionate about too."
The visiting party of a dozen students and three chaperones arrived at One Buccaneer Place at 9:00 a.m. and was greeted by General Manager Bruce Allen and Chief Operating Officer Eric Land. After Allen emphasized the importance of hard work and functioning as a team, Land described how the various aspects of the organization work together to produce a quality product for the fans.
The visiting party was divided into several smaller groups which then spent the next six hours – with a noon break for lunch – rotating between meetings with 10 departmental directors in the Buccaneers organization. The students were given an insider's look at how business is conducted in the Ticketing/Sales, Security/Facilities, Accounting, Public Relations, Team Services, Food & Beverage, Marketing, Information Technology, Video and Legal/Human Resources departments.
Each director spoke about the tasks that are accomplished in his or her department, and how the departments all work together. 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.
"It was a great opportunity for them to learn about the different positions that are here, and what those positions entail," said Fischer. "There was an opportunity for questions and answers, and to find out exactly what is in place for each on of these students if they should continue to go on in those areas."
Carolina Mercedes, another junior in the program, was impressed with the collaborative nature of the work that takes place inside One Buc Place.
"Everything was nice, but what I most liked is that I see everybody has a positive attitude," she said. "They're working together and you just feel comfortable here, that you just want to be here."
Who knows? Perhaps some of Wednesday's 12 student visitors will one day work for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Or perhaps they will pursue other jobs in the world of finance as it pertains to professional sports. At the very least, the young men and women from Northeast High School had their eyes opened to such possibilities, and the experience could very well change the course of their lives.
"I learned stuff that will help me out in the financial world and also in my personal life," said Mercedes. "I met people that changed my mind about what I want to do when I get older, and also about things that are happening in my life right now."
2007-08 SAB Remains Open for Applications
During their visit to One Buc Place, the Northeast High students also learned about the Buccaneers' Student Advisory Board (SAB), a popular and long-running community program that is currently being formed for the upcoming school year.
Though the SAB annually includes high school students from all over the Bay area, Northeast students have not in the past participated. That is likely to change in 2007-08, as Wednesday's visitors expressed an overwhelming interest in applying for the advisory board this year.
Fortunately, the application period for the 2007-08 SAB remains open.
The Buccaneers created this council, comprised of high school sophomores, juniors and seniors, in an effort to bring together intelligent, energetic and motivated students to perform community service projects, create Buccaneer spirit in their schools and develop leadership skills in preparation for continuing education. The SAB generally consists of about 40 students and is considered an integral part of the team's community outreach efforts.
For more information on how you can join the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Student Advisory Board, call 813-870-2700 ext. 2274 or click here to go to a PDF version of this year's application. Applications will be available until June 1 and the last day to submit one is June 8.