Melissa Darusz shares some of her memories from Calvin, turning points in her career, and favorite parts of working with the Miami Dolphins.
What does your average day look like as a special events manager for the Miami Dolphins?
A major part of my job is being the “socialite” for the Miami Dolphins and Hard Rock Stadium. It’s important for me to maintain relationships with all the major hitters in South Florida. Every day is different; that’s why I love working in sports. Some days I meet with clients at the stadium to pick out spaces for conferences or receptions. If I’m not at the stadium, I’m at networking events, galas, fashion shows, sporting events, etc.
I also get to be a part of events like El Clasico, Miami Open, the Super Bowl, Monday Night Football, Miami Dolphins Football, and Coldplay or Taylor Swift concerts. It’s so surreal that this is my job.
How did your Calvin classes prepare you for the work you do now?
One of the projects I worked on in Prof. Timmer’s sports marketing class introduced me to planning public and private events. We had to take a current sporting event at Calvin and basically start it from scratch, which taught me about operations and advertisement. Looking back, what I learned in the kinesiology department gave me the tools to help create one of the top-earning private events departments in all of professional sports in the country.
What opportunities did you have to engage with the sports industry while you were at Calvin?
The internships I did while I was at Calvin helped me make all kinds of connections in the industry. I was a recreational attendant for the YMCA, a business administration intern for the Cleveland Cavaliers, a group sales intern for the Grand Rapids Griffins, an events planning intern for the PGA Tour, and the group sales and event specialist for the Grand Rapids Drive. Every internship was special in its own way.
The most important lesson I learned was how to network. The sports industry is incredibly small and can be difficult to break into. However, I took my opportunities and maximized them. When I was interning with the Cavaliers, I set meetings with every department head in the company, including the CEO of the Cavaliers. By doing that, I had a glowing recommendation letter that landed me my next internship.
How did your time at Calvin shape you as a person?
In my senior capstone class, I studied different controversial topics that I now deal with on a daily basis. This class formed me into the professional I am today because it prepared me to have an actual opinion on difficult topics.
Calvin gave me the skill set to be true to who I am. I’ve found that it’s important to hold on to my integrity in the sports industry, and I developed the necessary self-assurance while I was at Calvin.