The Houston Astros have had the worst record in major league baseball three years in a row. But Eastern Illinois University Communication Studies graduate Lisa Schleef will tell you the Astros are big winners.
Schleef spent the Summer of 2013 in Houston working as a Community Relations/Foundation Intern for the Astros. She came away from the three month experience with nothing but positive feelings.
“It was awesome,” Schleef said. “It (the internship) put sports in a whole different perspective. You realize what goes on behind the scenes. You have more knowledge of what goes on behind the scenes.”
Schleef during her internship
Schleef is a native of St. Joseph, Illinois who earned her Bachelor of Arts degree from Eastern in 2011. She majored in Communication Studies, specializing in the Corporate Communication Option, with a minor in Advertising. Schleef went on to receive her Master of Arts degree in Communication Studies from Eastern in 2013, focusing on Strategic Communication.
Schleef's main focus with the Astros was working with the club's in-kind charitable donations. She frequently fielded requests from non-profit groups who were seeking contributions from the Astros and often provided tickets that the groups could offer in a fund-raising auction.
While in Houston, Schleef helped organize two major fundraisers. On Father's Day, the Astros hosted "Picnic in the Park" which raised over $100,000 for the club's foundation. Over 700 fans attended the event, which included a picnic in the outfield at Minute Maid Park, kids' activities, and a chance to get autographs from Astros' players. A second fundraiser entitled "Dancing with the 'Stros" was held in mid-September.
Schleef also worked with the Astros' Marketing interns to focus on starting an in-game Twitter campaign to help fans be more engaged during the game. The campaign was called "#WackyWalkup" and asked fans in the stadium to send tweets suggesting silly songs to be used as walk-up music for the batters on the opposing team.
Schleef was selected as one of 32 Astros' interns after replying to an email that announced the opening. She hopes it may lead to a full-time position, since the club often hires former interns when they have an opening. The internship has already helped Schleef land job interviews for marketing and community relations positions with the Houston Rockets and Minnesota Timberwolves of the NBA.
Schleef credits both her undergraduate and graduate courses at Eastern for helping her be prepared for the internship. "My public relations classes helped, teaching me about promotional techniques," she said. "Courses I took as part of the Advertising minor were also helpful in developing important skills, especially learning to use Adobe Suite products."
She also credits her Master's Thesis for giving her an edge over others who applied for the internship. Schleef's thesis was entitled, "Corporate Social Responsibility and Team Identification in Professional Sports." She says, "My thesis research set me apart from other applicants. By researching what other teams were doing, I gained a new perspective that many other applicants didn't have."
If nothing else, Schleef's internship with the Astros helped confirm that working behind the scenes in professional sports is the right career choice for her.