Having the opportunity to work internationally is not unheard of when pursuing a degree in sport and this summer, three Sport Management students gained experience working abroad with Asia League, a start-up basketball company tasked with organizing some of Asia’s elite basketball clubs.
Undergraduates Dike Wei and Ivy Kim, along with graduate student Enbo Liu, each having roots in various parts of China, (Dike with Guangdong, Ivy with Taiwan, and Enbo with Xi’an) share their experiences as they branched out from their lifestyle in Connecticut to gain professional experience with sport in China.
Despite interning for the same organization, Wei and Liu worked in Hangzhou while Kim worked at the league’s headquarters in Hong Kong. Although each of them recognized a strong and unique culture within Asia League, many of their tasks and responsibilities differed from their previous experiences working in sport.
Kim, who has worked with UConn's Women's Basketball for three years noted,
“I remember our first game venue visit, which was only a month away from the tournament. I was surprised by the limited resources we were given and how much we had to do, to literally setup and brand the venue for the tournament, from scratch.”
Throughout the summer, the students worked with the event, facility and basketball operations side of the league with tasks that included setting up, facilitating, and managing events. They also assisted in the production of the Summer Super 8 event in Macau, China. Macau, also known as the ‘Las Vegas of the East’ for its hub of gambling and entertainment, brought Wei, Kim, and Liu together for what they considered their favorite and most beneficial week of their internship.
Not only was the Summer Super 8 event a memorable experience for them, seeing the organizational culture within each of their work spaces contributed to their deeper understanding of how the event came to fruition. The organization was founded by American native, Matt Beyer, who was a former sports agent from Wisconsin. His influence and knowledge in the Chinese socioeconomic environment led to the creation of Asia League’s inaugural season last year. Beyer combines American and Chinese cultures which contributes to the league’s success and development. Wei describes this experience as “a feeling like we were building the culture ourselves” with mention to a ‘laid back’ environment that allowed the interns to feel like they had a big impact on the organization.
Their experiences were not limited to the workplace, rather intrinsically allowed them to travel to various places abroad. Macau was a great point of discussion as it featured an unforgettable opportunity to hang out with some of China’s premiere basketball players. For Kim, this experience was the perfect way to get closer to her coworkers and fellow interns, stating,
“Our time in Macau really brought everyone together, despite the long hours, everyone’s dedication inspired us to reach the daily goal, together.”
- Ivy Kim
For Wei and Liu, one of their favorite places in Hangzhou was West Lake, an area known for its rich history and unique relics. It is here that Liu was drawn to the Chinese garden landscape that reminded him of the famous French painter, Monet, expressing, “If Monet had lived in the West Lake for a month, I believe he could have created [even] more extraordinary masterpieces.” Indulging in West Lake’s art and historical culture is just another example of the benefits to obtaining an internship abroad. UConn’s Sport Management program encourages students to maximize their internship experiences both professionally and culturally.
Sport is powerful and allows for people with varying differences to unite over a common interest. This summer, our interns used their athletic interests to drive past some language barriers within the league. Kim admitted that her unfamiliarity with Cantanese served as an obstacle when communicating with clients, suppliers, and even some of China’s professional basketball players, but she was still able to adapt and work through this challenge. Various languages were utilized throughout the organization, but English was the main method of communication due to its heavy influence by the NBA Summer League. Despite the league’s language barriers, basketball serves as the universal language and is what drives their goals of increasing its marketing presence in Asia.
When you combine a sport management background, the ability to speak more than one language, and exuding confidence built off experiences like this, Sport Management students are bound for success. Asia League is only one example of where sport can lead you but this year our students returned with immense growth, both personally and professionally.
Asia League is currently looking for summer 2019 interns. Please review this internship description if you're interested in applying.