BALTIMORE RAVENS HBCU CAREER COMBINE
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The Baltimore Ravens hosted 65 students from seven historically black colleges and universities (HBCU) last Friday (March 29) for an all-day HBCU Career Combine, the first event of its kind.
Seven area HBCUs were represented at the event, which was held at the Under Armour Performance Center. The schools included: Morgan State University, the University of Maryland Eastern Shore, Coppin State University, Bowie State University, Delaware State University, Howard University and Lincoln University.
"We thought it was important to do this, because we want a strong, skilled and diverse workforce," Ravens vice president of human resources Elizabeth Mearman stated. "In targeting HBCUs, we'll hopefully build a pipeline of talented and wide-ranging candidates. Our hope is to connect with prospective employees early so that two or three years down the line, they have the experience needed to work in sports."
"A lot of people don't know about HBCUs, so the fact that the Ravens took time to acknowledge us and say, 'We should give these students a chance,' just really means a lot," Kiana Fludd, a sports management major at Howard, explained. "It means they actually care about people. Instead of just, 'Oh, we need an employee,' it was, 'We want quality people. We want to make sure everybody gets a chance. We want to get to know new people. We want to make new connections and relationships.'
"That really brightened my heart to think there are other people acknowledging your school and acknowledging the culture that you bring," Fludd added.
The combine began with a welcome from Mearman and director of public relations Patrick Gleason, who emceed the daylong event. They were followed by Chad Steele, vice president of public relations, who imparted the keynote address.
Students then participated in a "Building your Brand" workshop with several Ravens representatives, focusing on networking, resumes and social media. The workshop was followed by a panel of internal Ravens staff, including general counsel Brandon Etheridge, with all discussing their respective career paths. Afterward, students sat down to lunch with more than 25 Ravens employees who provided participants the opportunity to ask questions and learn more about the industry.
"I believe sports can help you not only come out of your shell, but they also build certain life skills you wish to possess," Diamond Evans, a sports management major at Bowie State, said. "People in the sports industry can really help you do that through different internships and gain special opportunities in the field."
During the afternoon, presentations featured a panel on various careers in professional athletics, which included the following prominent figures in the industry:
- Brad Downs, vice president of marketing for the Baltimore Ravens.
- Dior Ginyard, senior player manager for the NFL Players Association (NFLPA).
- Melanie LeGrande, current vice president of social responsibility for Major League Baseball and former director of community relations and foundation chair for the Baltimore Ravens.
- Adrienne Lofton, former SVP of global brand management, philanthropy and marketing operations at Under Armour, who will soon join Nike in an executive marketing leadership role.
Students then heard presentations from several departments within the Ravens organization, including human resources, marketing, public relations, community relations, corporate sales/business development, client services, stadium operations, guest experience, retail, ticketing, information technology and digital media/broadcasting.
Additionally, head coach John Harbaugh and longtime executive Ozzie Newsome delivered remarks of encouragement and answered questions from the attendees near the day's conclusion.
"In general, when meeting people in your field, what I realized is that it's not just about getting a job or an internship right away," noted Aaron Dykes, a sports management major at Bowie State. "It's about having people you can reach out to for information and help you along the way. Possibly in the future, they can connect you in areas that you want to be connected."