Oliver Page ’19 Global Access Point – Growing up, none of my friends ever considered coming back to work in South Bend, our hometown. We thought our city to be boring and pretty insignificant. In fact, in 2011—my first year of high school—South Bend, Indiana was designated a “Dying City” by Newsweek. So maybe South Bend was significant, just for the wrong reasons.
It will surprise you, then, to read that I really wanted to intern in South Bend this past summer. Let me explain.
Since 2011, the City of South Bend has strung together dozens of “wins” in the business and social arenas. Most notably, we broke ground on old Studebaker buildings—which were once symbols of prosperity for our city—with the intentions of transforming them into office space for thousands of tech workers. This development has led to millions of dollars in grants for, and investments in, the city. We also gained a new minor league baseball team, the South Bend Cubs. What says “winners” better than owning the World Series Champions’ affiliate team? Better yet, the South Bend Cubs have been consistently selling out home games since their arrival, a feat that the former South Bend Silverhawks almost never did. These are just a few of the noteworthy “wins” that demonstrate South Bend’s remarkable evolution.
The most notable “win” for our city, though, is the fact that its citizens are proud to be from South Bend. Notice that I used the word “we” in the last paragraph, even though I hardly contributed to any of those feats. This leads me to why I wanted to intern in South Bend this summer: I wanted to start contributing to my city’s revitalization.
This summer I interned under Dr. Shane Fimbel ’02 at Global Access Point, a company that manages data centers and network infrastructures. Admittedly, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. As an English Literature major, I have yet to read a novel that touches on the three main functions of a data center. But that’s one of the reasons why this internship was so valuable. I learned not to be intimidated by big words and seemingly indiscernible systems. Don’t get me wrong: I’m still no expert on the technology at Global Access Point. But I made considerable progress by the end of the summer. Dr. Fimbel explained to me that, in business, you don’t need to be an expert on one system. Rather, you need to know each system well enough to connect them all and make something new and better. In many ways, this is exactly what liberal arts graduates are taught to do. Granted, Dr. Fimbel has his Ph.D. in neuroscience. So, needless to say, he has no trouble learning complex systems “well enough.” But the lesson was well taken and gives this English major hope.
One project that I particularly enjoyed was helping build an eSports franchise business model. Dr. Fimbel is all about “facilitating others’ success.” So, while he was gone for a week, he lent my services to Matt Dudevoir ’06, a U.S. veteran, recent Notre Dame MBA graduate, and fellow Sigma Chi. Throughout the week, Logan White ’19 and I helped Mr. Dudevoir build his business plan before he presented it to investors. I learned about market research, making projections, and—most importantly—being open to making a conclusion that’s different than anticipated.
Originally, the idea was to have an eSports franchise in South Bend and make money by winning internationally renowned tournaments. However, after days of research, we decided that this was not the best way to make money. I felt like I made a significant contribution when I designed an Excel graphic that had the “Winning Percentage” on one axis and “Percentage of Earnings” on the other. For example, even if the eSports team got 1st place in 70% of the tournaments (probably not possible) and the owners took 20% of the earnings (also unreasonable), then the franchise would earn an income of $13,789. In the best-case scenario, the company can’t make enough money to offset the costs of traveling to the tournaments. So Mr. Dudevoir used this information to pivot his plan and eventually decide that he could make money through endorsements. More people watched a specific eSports competition on Twitch (an eSports website) last year than the MLB World Series. So he then looked into using his gamers as ad space, as companies will pay his franchise to place their logos on his players.
On the whole, I was pleased to get a taste of South Bend’s revitalization. I am very thankful to the Lilly Endowment for making this experience possible. I am even more thankful to Roland Morin ’91 and Shane Fimbel ’02 for their counsel throughout the internship process. This experience will certainly inform my future career plans and stick with me after I graduate from Wabash.
*Picture: Dr. Fimbel explaining his vision for the Studebaker building