As an intern with Major League Soccer, Shaquille Robinson ’19 created the ultimate fan experience for the 2018 All-Star Game.
For the Love of the Game
Growing up playing soccer, Shaquille Robinson ’19 would watch Major League Soccer (MLS) games whenever he had the chance. Now, as a sport management and business management double major at Elms, he’s had the chance to go behind the scenes at MLS and help the league create the ultimate fan experience.
Shaquille spent the summer before his senior year working in MLS’s domestic operations division. Along with 13 other interns, he was tasked with a project of epic proportions: planning the best week ever for fans attending the 2018 All-Star Game in Atlanta.
“I spent a lot of time in meetings in the boardroom, helping with all the logistics, planning, and coordinating,” said the NYC native. “Our goal was to make sure the fans were comfortable.”
Shaquille at MLS headquarters in Manhattan. One of the perks of the internship was seeing memorabilia like the MLS Cup trophy in person.
While he was stationed at MLS headquarters in Manhattan, Shaquille drew on his business classes at Elms to analyze data and prepare PowerPoints. Interns were responsible for knowing everything about the fan experience, including attendance trends for each team, as well as player honors and milestones.
Taking the time to perfect his content before sharing it with his supervisor and peers was crucial, he said. “A lot of dedication went into what I was doing. I think they saw that passion,” he added.
Shaquille’s preparation in the office paved the way for a trip to Atlanta, where he supported the operations team in virtually every aspect of the All-Star Game festivities.
For the rookie player exhibition – known as the Homegrown Game – he managed everything from broadcast coverage to concessions.
“We had to make sure security was tight, and that the field and camera placements were perfect,” he said. “We had food trucks for fans, since the game was open to the public.”
Leading up to the All-Star Game, Shaquille and his peers delivered concerts, rallies, and tailgate events to fans. Shaquille personally created credentials for high-profile celebrities like R&B singer Ashanti, and Inter Miami CF owner David Beckham. He inspected the field and cameras to make sure the ESPN broadcast started on time. He even worked with the local police department and hospital to create contingency plans.
When it was all said and done, the game was an incredible success. A total of 72, 317 fans were in attendance — the largest crowd ever for a single MLS All-Star Game.
“I was proud to be a part of that,” Shaquille said. “It was a lot of planning and execution leading up to that week. Going to Atlanta was great hands-on experience.”
After the game, Shaquille and the operations team took a moment to celebrate on the field in Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
Skill Building at Elms
Although Shaquille’s preparation for business operations came from his studies at Elms, it’s his experience as a student athlete that enabled him to think like a fan.
“When it comes to soccer, my eyes are wide open, all day,” he said. “I know a lot about the game itself — the players, teams, even the presidents of most franchises.”
As a forward for the men’s soccer team, Shaquille made 75 appearances over four seasons, racking up 17 goals and 11 assists. His energy on the field complements his academic motivation; together, they form the type of work ethic that gets noticed.
One of the most important lessons Shaquille learned at Elms came from Nancy Davis, MBA, a professor in the Business Division. “Prof. Davis told us not to go for the job with the most money, but to go for what you’re passionate about,” he said.
Before his internship ended, Shaquille worked with the HR department to set up interviews with front office executives. While he hopes to find a full time position with MLS after graduating, he’s also open to working as a business specialist for a franchise if the opportunity arises.
“That’s what is special about Major League Soccer. It’s not only growing, it’s creating new jobs for people,” he said. “My experience that summer was phenomenal. I loved what I was doing there. Before then, I didn’t know what I wanted to do. Now I do.”