KENNESAW, Ga. | Oct 7, 2020
Sophia Bowers connected a personal passion for sports with her professional and academic goals during her time at Kennesaw State University.
A lifelong sports fan and athlete, the December 2019 graduate of Kennesaw State majored in sport management. Adept with numbers and seeking another skillset to increase opportunities in the workplace, she added a minor in statistics.
She combined those pursuits for a job as a customer relations specialist in the business intelligence department of the Atlanta Braves, a position to which she was promoted after working on the gameday staff at Truist Park last year.
“Ever since starting work for the Braves, I have enjoyed the opportunities and challenges that this job has created and presented,” Bowers said. “I am learning so much about the business side of sports and the day-to-day operations that go into sustaining a sports team. While this is a unique time in the sports industry, I’m still enjoying what I do, and I’m able to learn new skills every day.”
Bowers started with the Braves in 2019 when she hired onto a market research team in the Braves’ gameday operations department. That group helped reduce wait times at Truist Park’s concession stands and entry gates, and with this accomplishment on her résumé, Bowers sought an internship for her final semester at KSU. She needn’t have looked far.
“The business intelligence department had an opening as their most recent intern had returned to school out of state. After my internship ended, they offered me the trainee position for the 2020 season, which is their official intern or entry-level program,” she said. “Late last year, our department had some positions move around and the person in my current position moved away and took another job. During the interview process of filling that spot my boss approached me and asked why I had not applied for the position. He thought I would be a good fit, and it would require less domain training. We had a talk and ultimately decided that I was up for the challenge of the full-time role, which I started at the end of February.”
In addition to the work skills she developed with the Braves, Bowers learned critical software programs such as R and SQL in her stats minor, so she hit the ground running professionally. Then she put to use her best-learned sport management skills combined with the team’s procedures to become a true MVP in the front office.
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the nature of a sports team’s relationship with its fans, and Bowers’ job has changed accordingly. She said she focuses her work on using data and best practices in customer relations to maintain strong relationships between the Braves and their fans.
“Our focus has shifted to staying connected with customers and engaging them the best we can. We cannot sell tickets to baseball games so we just try to keep a good relationship with our fans to retain them through these tough times. We want them to feel valued even though we can’t see them at the ballpark.”
Bowers arrived at KSU knowing she wanted to make a living through sports somehow, and credited the sport management program with helping her find her focus.
“When I was looking at schools I wanted to find something to study I was passionate about and had a lot of interest in,” she said. “KSU’s program in sport management met that criteria for me, and covered a bunch of different avenues I could pursue professionally.”
Bowers said she’d like to stay in sports, though she’s confident she can translate her skills to any kind of job involving managing relationships and numbers. She cited the fast-paced, fun environment and like-minded co-workers as major draws for the sports industry, but said she’d keep an open mind as years go by.
“Ideally, I would like to work in sports as long as possible. It is fun for me, and I love the environment and the people that I work with,” she said. “Luckily, the skills I am developing with the Braves will translate to other industries as well, so I plan on following the best opportunities I am presented with and continuing to grow my skills in all aspects, not just limiting my realm of growth to the sports industry.”
– Dave Shelles
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A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its more than 43,000 students. Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia with 11 academic colleges. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the country and the world. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 7 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status. For more information, visit kennesaw.edu.