This post was authored by History Major Jake Bickel during his internship at the Indianapolis Children’s Museum. He is also pursuing a Minor in Sports Administration.
On a scorching hot July day, I found myself playing baseball with the sun beating down on me. I started to feel like a kid again. How did I get here? As a child, I fell in love with sports. The competitive rush is like no other and it continues to be a feeling I chase. As I got older, I fell in love with History and the hunt to learn why things today are as they are. These passions led me to where I am now.
During my sophomore year at Ball State, I discovered an internship at the Indianapolis Children’s Museum. The Riley Sports Legends Experience Internship was the perfect fit for my interests. This was a chance to intern at the largest children’s museum in the world while being around sports every single day. The Riley Sports Legends Experience (RSLE) is a 7.5-acre indoor and outdoor exhibit with more than twelve interactive sports experiences, including tennis, basketball, golf, racing, and many more influential sports. After a series of interviews, in person and over the phone, I landed the internship. This was an opportunity to explore many potential career paths. Would I like to work at a museum? What is the sports landscape like in Indianapolis? This internship helped me answer those questions and chart life after graduation.
The Summer at Riley Sports
This year the summer interns’ big project was the Indy 500. The Children’s Museum partners with all kinds of organizations, including the Pacers and Colts professional sports teams, as well as the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. My RSLE internship started on Tuesday, May 9th and the next day we were at the track. Our partnership with the Motor Speedway required us to set up a Kids Zone in the track’s Midway. Here we set up a miniature racetrack with a Lego Pagoda. We had pedal cars for kids to race around the track while a DJ played jams all day. We bought a Lego car that kids could sit in for a chance to take some great family pictures while waiting for their turn to race. At the Kids Zone, we plugged our Memorial Day event at the Museum: Speedfest. This is an annual event held at the museum when kids and adults of all ages can race at our own outdoor track, win fun prizes, and engage in healthy competition. With live music and a beer garden, it was a perfect place for guests to spend their Memorial Day.
As an intern, I was at the track every May weekend working the Kids Zone and plugging Speedfest. I arrived at the Speedway as early as five a.m. some days and did not leave until six p.m. other days. It was all worth it to see the turnout. We had over two thousand racers visit us at the track. After May, things slowed down. In June and July, I was at the museum daily playing sports with kids and helping out with the educational programs we held throughout the day. At the end of the program, all the interns from every department got to make a slide talking about their summer. This was a lot of fun as we got a chance to reflect on our summer together and engage in meaningful conversations about our different experiences.
The Overall Outlook on a Sports Career
This summer taught me that I want to pursue a career in sports. A particular event occurred during my time at the museum, showing me that I was in the right place. It was the departure of the Director of RSLE. While I was sad to see him go, he was offered a chance to work for the Indianapolis Colts. That’s when I knew I was at the right place. My dream is to work for a professional sports team and I know a degree in History will be beneficial. As a History Major I have learned how to dissect things from a different perspective. When reading I always think about who wrote it and why they may be doing it. What biases might they hold? What is going on for them to write this? A degree in History allows you to take many different career options into account. I love History and I could see myself working as a historian as well, but it is nice to see the analytical, research, and interpersonal skills I have learned being utilized outside of the classroom. I love Sports History and I would also consider a career at historic places like the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame or the Louisville Sluggers Museum and Factory. Preserving the history of sports is something that I am passionate about and could see my future self pursuing.
I would recommend an internship at the Indianapolis Children’s Museum to any college student. It is a large non-profit with many different departments that could fit any major or interest. There were interns with a variety of majors, including Paleontology, Elementary Education, and Business. The museum also made a point to let its interns network with each other, as well as interns at other companies around the city. The Children’s Museum takes their internship program very seriously and many interns come back to volunteer or even seek a job post-internship. This is also an opportunity to add an influential organization to your resume. With partnerships all across the world, as well as in the city of Indianapolis, this is your chance to have a respected organization in your corner as you search for the next step in your life’s journey.