The NFL Scouting Combine has called Indianapolis home since 1987. The event, which brings the nation’s top college football players together to be evaluated ahead of the NFL Draft, has historically been closed to the general public. This year, the NFL opened the first-ever NFL Combine Experience, inviting fans in for photos, autographs, and other activities.
As Visit Indy prepared for the NFL, Susie Townsend, the Vice President of Visitor Experience, contacted Dr. Amanda Cecil about partnering with the Department of Tourism, Conventions, and Event Management (TCEM) to staff the NFL Combine Experience. TCEM has a great relationship with Visit Indy’s team, and the department jumped at the opportunity for students to get involved.
Ten students were nominated and recruited by faculty to represent IUPUI and TCEM as Area Managers. Each area of the NFL Combine Experience had an Area Manager onsite to help manage the 200-600 daily volunteers, allowing the students to supervise and exercise their leadership skills.
TCEM student Vijay Melwani credited the school for his preparation to take on this opportunity to be a part of this inaugural event: “As an Area Manager, I got to work with some of the most passionate people who gave their valuable time for the NFL Experience. Every person was involved in the success of the event and it felt great to see the amount of detail that goes into planning an event of that size. Communication, teamwork, and passion, were three observable facts that existed among area and zone managers; which trickled down to how we lead a team of volunteers to engage fans in our specific areas! It felt great to be the leader of a team and contribute to the NFL!"
John Mellinger, Visitor Experience Manager for Visit Indy, had nothing but praise for the decision to have TCEM students as part of this event: “We benefited from the students because we were provided with an enthusiastic group of students who also had a great work ethic. The hours were long for the Area Managers and yet they came in, did their job (and very well I might add), interacted with the guests and kept a smile on their face the entire time. I did not hear of any complaints or anybody not wanting to fulfill their shift. It was also a great way for the students to see how an event like this is run, gain experience working with a diverse crowd, and an opportunity to supervise a group of volunteers.”
McKenzie Brown, a sports management student, is grateful for just one of the many opportunities that IUPUI and Indianapolis present to students: “I am so grateful that PETM was able to offer students this position. IUPUI and Indianapolis give me so many opportunities to build my experience. This was great, and will definitely help build my resume. I encourage students to volunteer as much as they can."