BestPrep’s Communications and Events Intern, Keagan Eng, had the chance to hear from Minnesota Business Venture (MBV) alum, Caitlin Pinick, about how MBV has taken her to a dream job in Partnership & Sponsorship Operations for Welcome America, Inc. Caitlin shared her journey from attending MBV as a student to her current leadership role in the event industry.
Caitlin attended MBV in 2009, after her mom discovered the program through a colleague. While at camp, Caitlin learned how to start a business, prepare for interviews, and manage your money. “I think the greatest benefit of MBV is learning real-world skills that aren’t necessarily taught in school,” she recalled. “We were able to take all of our thoughts and ideas and turn it into a cohesive business plan in just a week.” At MBV, Caitlin and other students were placed into small groups, or “companies,” and were given the challenge of creating a fictional product and a business plan by the end of the week. Caitlin found value in the diversity she experienced at MBV. “I loved that my company was made up of people with all different kinds of backgrounds and interests. You’re not always going to work with like-minded people, and MBV gives you the opportunity to work through and take advantage of those differences to create a better end product!”
In the years following her time at MBV, Caitlin applied the knowledge she gained at camp to her career path. She knew since high school that she wanted to work in the arts and entertainment sector. “While [at MBV], I recognized that everything is a business, and I could apply my passion for entertainment to a career in management,” Caitlin explained. In 2015, she graduated with a B.S. in Entertainment and Arts Management from Drexel University in Philadelphia. A few years later, she pursued an M.S. in Hospitality Management with a concentration in Event Management from Temple University in Philadelphia. “When choosing a master’s program, I wanted to gain management knowledge and experience but in a program that focused on the nuance of the event industry,” Caitlin shared.
Currently, Caitlin works part–time in Partnership & Sponsorship Operations for Welcome America, Inc., a non-profit organization that works to promote American history, education, and Philadelphia to residents and visitors through city-wide events. Caitlin lives in Philadelphia where Welcome America is based. Her team is busy planning the 2021 Wawa Welcome America Festival, “a multi-day, city wide 4th of July celebration in Philadelphia and the Philly Holiday Experience in the winter.” Leading up to the festival, Caitlin’s team brainstorms ideas and meets with event producers, sponsors, and partners to put their planning into action. During the event, Caitlin’s main tasks include managing logistics and communication for on-site sponsors, as well as providing support for issues that may arise. Despite the challenges, Caitlin loves what she does. “My favorite thing about the event industry is that I work with so many incredibly passionate people who love what they do. It can be a difficult job—deadlines are rigid and there are very long hours—but it is all worth it when you see the public enjoying all of your hard work at the festival.”
Although her time at MBV is behind her, Caitlin frequently uses the skills she learned at camp in her everyday work. “MBV was my first experience collaborating with a group in a professional setting,” she recalled. “Everyone in my company came into the week with different backgrounds, varying levels of business knowledge and experience, and different interests. As a group, we had to recognize and leverage our talents and contributions for a final cohesive business plan.” Caitlin mentioned that collaboration, a key element of the event industry, is a skill she has accessed often throughout her college and career journeys. At Welcome America, she personally collaborates with her sponsorship team, as well as Welcome America’s leadership team, event producers, and the marketing team, to name a few. Caitlin emphasized the importance of working with others in her company to produce the best possible events. “Every person has ideas to bring to the table to create better events. They may all have different perspectives and contributions, but we all have the common goal of executing a fun and safe festival.”
In the future, Caitlin dreams of working in sponsorship fulfillment and operations for the Olympic Games. “I want to continue to challenge myself,” she explained. “As long as I am in a position where I am still learning and pushing myself to do more, I’ll be happy!” In her final thoughts, Caitlin provided some simple words of wisdom to students still in high school: “You get out of it what you put into it.” She challenged young people to continue to explore and be involved in what they love. “Whether it’s a class, your work, or an educational experience, when you fully show up and actively engage, you will gain more, learn more, and all-around have a better experience,” Caitlin concluded.
Minnesota Business Venture 2021 will be held virtually July 12-15 and 26-29. Learn more and sign up today.