Internship Spotlight: Jasmine Bell, Finance Intern for Circuit of the Americas

The 2012 Formula 1 United States Grand Prix (USGP), held in Austin last month, was one of the most highly anticipated and talked about events in the recent future. The race marked the return of F1 to the United States, and it attracted an international crowd larger than that of the Superbowl. Jasmine Bell, a BHP senior, had the chance to see what goes into putting on a sporting event of this magnitude through an internship with Circuit of the Americas.

What was the internship?

It was an accounting internship in the Finance Department for Circuit of the Americas (COTA). I started in July and will continue working with them through the end of the spring semester. For the F1 race, I mainly worked with contracts that had to do with marketing the race. I kept a running tab of more than 200 contracts, and also handled some payments and invoices. For the spring semester, we will be working on Grand-Am in March, MotoGP in April, and possibly V8 Supercars in May, as well as concerts and other events. My responsibilities will vary by event and will be specific to the needs of that event.

How did you find out about the internship and was the hiring process competitive?

While studing abroad in Hong Kong, an HR recruiter reached out to my supply chain professor about the position. He let our class know about it and I applied from there. I interviewed when I returned to the states and got the internship. There were three student interns, and I was the only UT student intern. This was the first year they had interns because the company is young. I was the only one in the Finance Department. I want to work in sports down the line, so this reaffirmed my desire to be in something sports-related.

What role did you play the actual weekend of the race?

They approached me and asked if I wanted to work the weekend of the race and then assigned me to the command center. I headed out to the track Thursday at noon and worked late into the evening learning the process in the command center. I worked 12 hour days during Friday’s practice sessions and Saturday practice and qualifying sessions.  I was the main line/receptionist for the command center; I took calls about every two minutes, so it was pretty hectic, but still exciting. It was nice to experience the event from the back-end and meet people during the event from the other departments that I don’t usually work in the office.

What was it like in the office leading up to the race?

There was a lot of excitement and we had a countdown in the office for the race. Some of the people who had been involved for a long time in getting F1 in Austin were really excited, so it was neat to be part of that. It was also really great to be a part of a track that is the first ever custom made F1 track in America.  I liked how much UT was showcased. Mack Brown did a pep talk for employees before the race weekend, and the UT band, cheer, pom, and Hook ‘Em performed on Sunday right before the Championship race started.

Any interesting stories or lessons learned from the weekend?

I liked hearing stories from the attendees after the race and learning about the sport and dealing with people from all nationalities. There were some people who called so often that I knew by the end of the weekend their name, what suite they were calling from and generally what they were probably calling about.  I think we handled twice the load of a Superbowl crowd for transportation, with attendance on Sunday alone being 117,429. A lot of the calls received were from Americans relating to transportation issues and having to walk a lot, which we didn’t hear from foreigners;it was quite apparent Americans aren’t used to walking as much as people who live in other countries. I learned it really takes a lot of work from the back end of operations so the front end looks like it is running smoothly.

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