Christopher Barker ‘20 Indy Fuel– Before I begin, I find it fitting to first give thanks to all those who have supported me and advised me throughout the application process this past academic year. If it weren’t for the guidance and encouragement from Cassie, Julia, Roland, and Alejandro at Career Services and the Wabash CIBE, the financial support from Wabash College, Rob Shook’s friendship, my Uncle Rick and Aunt Karen for taking me into their home, and for my parents and family for their unconditional love and support, I would not be the same person with this opportunity to work for Indy Fuel Hockey Club. I’m grateful to God and then the College for crossing our lives, and I cherish the friendships we share.
For those of you who may not know, the Indy Fuel is a professional ice hockey team in Indianapolis, Indiana. They are members of the ECHL, a AA hockey league. They are affiliated with the Chicago Blackhawks in the NHL and the Rockford IceHogs in the AHL. The Fuel just finished its 4thseason as a franchise this past spring, and they play at the Indiana Farmers Coliseum located in the Indiana State Fairgrounds.
When I was seeking out summer working opportunities in the winter and spring, one of my go-to questions for potential employers was “How does this company get involved in the community?”. The Indy Fuel has a pretty simple answer to this that I get to focus in. My main responsibility with the Indy Fuel is to represent the franchise at various events in the community. These can range from First Friday Food Truck Festivals, company outings, or even private birthday parties. I load up the Nitro Van with the tent, inflatable Hockey Slapshot Goal, giveaways, and raffle tickets, and I talk with anyone from season-ticket holders to young kids who want to learn how to shoot the puck! This could feel like grunt work at times, but it is very important to the franchise. The team has only been playing for four years, and exposing the name to new people at every event is the first step to bringing people into the Coliseum for action-packed, family-friendly hockey games.
When not at community events, I also work regularly in the front office. The office is small, which allows for everyone to add their own touch to their position. I get to shadow the people there and learn about the amount of work and dedication needed in the ticketing, sponsorship, game operations, social media and records, and upper management positions. I have even been allowed to come to interviews for open positions and meetings with sponsors.
The main thing I’ve learned at Indy Fuel is the importance of making business personal. Everyone in the office gets along well and understands each other’s senses of humor. The Fuel’s VP of Sponsorship gets to know the sponsors she works with, and even knows and brings their favorite candy to meetings. This a skill I hope to further sharpen throughout the summer because I know that it is an indispensable tool I can use in any industry I may work in.