While most Americans were watching the 2008 Summer Olympics from the comfort of their couches, University of OregonLundquist College of Business student Austin DeKoning was in Beijing soaking up all the action and gaining real-world experience as an intern for the sports marketing powerhouse IMG World.
"More than anything, it was motivating to me as a student to learn what it takes to be the best in a competitive industry," the 22-year-old business administration major said.
DeKoning spent a total of nine months in China working for the Olympic sponsor Johnson & Johnson on behalf of IMG. As a member of IMG's operations team, he worked on anything and everything related to onsite marketing--including helping with staff accreditation, hospitality, product forecasting, and preparing Johnson & Johnson's Olympic Games pavilion, a 25,000-square-foot steel and glass venue featuring a series of eight high-tech, interactive exhibits for visitors.
"Everything that I had done up until that point had been in action sports," said DeKoning, who organized the successful Rail Jam snowboarding event at the UO in spring 2007. "What made this experience so incredible was moving past the planning stages and going into the activation stages."
DeKoning returned to Oregon energized by his trip, and he was eager speak about his experiences abroad, which he did at a presentation to the Warsaw Sports Business Club that drew a standing-room-only crowd in one of the college's lecture halls.
"What I tell people is to create your own opportunities," says DeKoning, who started studying Chinese his sophomore year. "Don't wait around for someone else to come up with a plan."
DeKoning graduates at the end of winter term 2009, and he plans to return to his native Portland, Oregon. He hopes to be involved in the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, British Columbia, and aims to parlay his China experiences into a career in action sports.
Warsaw Sports Marketing Center Managing Director Paul Swangard says DeKoning's experience is proof that Lundquist College of Business students who work hard and take advantage of the opportunities in front of them can make their visions a reality.
"To see Austin working and thriving in the middle of the Olympic Green during my trip to Beijing last fall symbolizes everything we hope to do with our students," Swangard said. "Be proactive in seeking help and opportunities, dream big, and make the most of your experiences."