Wildcats Gain ‘Xperience’ at Xfinity Center Venue

Summer Student Program at Xfinity Center  

Many Ƶ students have interned at the Xfinity Center in nearby Mansfield, Massachusetts, a live entertainment venue owned by Live Nation, thanks to the strong partnership we’ve built over the years. It’s the perfect opportunity for Sports, Entertainment, Event — Management (SEEM) students to gain hands-on experience with event operations, guest experiences, marketing, ticketing and venue management. Plus, several Ƶ SEEM alumni are now currently working in seasonal positions at Xfinity.

“It’s definitely been great to have so many people from the Ƶ community here at work,” says Megan Knight ’22, a recent SEEM alum. Knight serves as the backstage experience coordinator for the venue, which includes maintaining back-of-house expectations, advancing and overseeing all VIP events for the venue with VIP representatives, and arranging set ups including dressing rooms, outside space, and VIP tents.  

Knight was recommended for the position by another alum, Samantha Lynn ’22, an operations coordinator for Xfinity. She started working at Xfinity by building a connection with Associate Professor and Department Chair Lee Esckilsen. After her internship at the Xfinity Center, the role of operations coordinator was created for her. Lynn’s job is to run the event operation student program and assist the general and operation managers in all venue operations.  

The fact that there were many Ƶ alumni at Xfinity was also a “great foot in the door” for Kendra Cahill ’22, a payroll and scheduling manager at Xfinity. She found her way to Xfinity in the wake of COVID, after her work in special events was put on pause. “I didn’t expect to end up here,” Cahill shared. “When I think of events, I think of weddings, parties, corporate events — I never really thought about music, but now that I'm in the music world I'm glad I did it because I think I like it even more than special events.” 

The exciting nature of working in live entertainment is what draws many people to study SEEM. “What I really appreciate is that no two days are ever the same,” says Lynn. “Once a project is complete or a show is over, we move onto the next one and it’s a new and different adventure.”  

But this industry also requires you to hone some important skills to succeed. 

Xfinity alums walking together
Left to right: Kendra Cahill ’22, Megan Knight ’22, Professor Julie Viscardi-Smalley, Samantha Lynn ’22

How does Ƶ’s SEEM program prepare students for the industry? 

In our Sports, Entertainment, Event — Management degree program, students can choose a specialization in three different areas: sports management, event management or live entertainment management to study areas such as concert production, event management, festival production and all things related to touring and live music. Students can gain experience through the professional connections Ƶ has with local and national organizations, such as Xfinity. 

The SEEM alumni working at Xfinity Center credit the many classes they took in the program for preparing them to work in their current roles. "A lot of professors at Johnson & Wales provided me with a lot of tools,” says Cahill. “My professor always taught me to be open-minded, to try new things and always to take the risk."

While studying SEEM, students have opportunities to produce live entertainment productions on campus and work with real clients. 

“For students who are going into live entertainment, I think it’s important to remember that the return on the investment for participating in a student program or an internship is that you’re meeting so many people who are in the industry and even people who are working at other venues or another capacity,” says Associate Professor Julie Viscardi-Smalley. 

Ƶ SEEM Alums in a group picture at Xfinity Center
Left to right: Associate Professor and Department Chair Lee Esckilsen, Kendra Cahill ’22, Megan Knight ’22, Samantha Lynn ’22, Matthew Fannon ’08, ’14, ’22 MBA

The sustainable bridge between Ƶ and Xfinity 

Matthew Fannon ’08, ’14, ’22 MBA does double duty as both the director of sustainability at Ƶ and as the facilities and sustainability manager at Xfinity Center. “I’ve been able to use the skills that I learned over those years at the university and utilize them at the venue,” says Fannon. He has been able to help the Xfinity Center by reducing their waste in and outside of the venue. The Xfinity Center is committed to having zero waste throughout all their shows. 

Going forward 

At Johnson & Wales, we continue to offer students in the SEEM program opportunities to explore the live entertainment world. Our alumni have found great success by building connections with their professors and taking advantage of Ƶ’s industry partners — Xfinity Center is just one example of the many paths our SEEM students can explore. 

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