Olivia Hardy Travels the Country with Paragon Marketing Group

An early love for sports and previous experience with the MSU football recruiting team propelled senior Advertising and Sports Business Management minor Olivia Hardy into an internship with Paragon Marketing Group last summer. As a “road warrior” intern, she traveled the country with Paragon, integrating both her education and her passion. She enjoyed the luxury of staying in East Lansing for the summer and traveling every week for sponsored events. Through her travels, Hardy experienced places she had only dreamed of going. The small town girl from Traverse City, Mich., adventured to New Jersey, Texas and California to name a few.

Paragon Marketing Group is a marketing agency, located in Skokie, Ill., focused on event planning and sponsorships in the sports industry. With high profile clients including Under Armour, Gatorade, ESPN and EA Sports, Hardy fell in love with their young, upbeat and fast-paced nature. Hardy would attend each event throughout the summer to manage  distribution teams and assure each event ran smoothly.

“There was definitely a learning curve in the beginning,” Hardy said. “I had no management experience prior to the internship. I learned how to motivate people and lead a team of all different ages. It is a skill that has helped me in my classes this year and applying for future opportunities.”

A Weekend on the Job

Hardy took a four-day work trip in July to assist at the Under Armour Association in Atlanta, Ga. The association hosts high school basketball athletes during a series of games that are broadcast to promote their talent. College coaches and recruiters attend the event to recruit for the upcoming NCAA seasons. Gatorade, another of Paragon’s clients, was a main sponsor of the event. Hardy helped distribute Gatorade’s new protein products to the future star athletes, as she managed a team of volunteers.

Aside from the major scouting events Hardy participated in, her favorite aspect of the internship was getting to know the fellow Paragon interns. In total, there was a team of 20 interns that attended events in teams.

“I had a great opportunity to learn about the marketing and sports industry, and I made amazing friends,” Hardy said. “All the interns are reuniting at Indiana University soon and I know I will have those connections for a very long time.”

Forging connections with management is critical but building relationships with peers is just as important. Hardy and her fellow interns will all be entering the workforce at the same time with similar career interests. Maintaining those connections down the road may lead to future opportunities.

Hardy found the internship with the help of her sports business management minor and her persistence. She applied to multiple internships before getting an offer and found the importance of believing in herself.

“You can hear the word no a thousand times and it is easy to get down on yourself,” Hardy said. “I saw the job posting on an email from my minor and applied right away. It just takes one yes to change everything. It is important to keep applying and to not give up.”

With graduation approaching, Hardy is currently applying for full-time opportunities in the sports and marketing industries.

By Brooke Segal