Two members of the Chicago Bears game day staff used an internship they found at Monmouth College as a gateway to work for the NFL team.
Gayle Walker, who graduated in May with a degree in business administration, is a member of the Bears’ stadium and event operations team, while senior Ben Dorn of New Lenox, Illinois, is working in the team’s ticket office.
“My team and I work on the set-up and tear-down of the concourse/courtyard at each gate entrance into the stadium,” said Walker, who interned for the Chicago Dogs professional baseball team in summer 2022. “We arrive six hours before kickoff to start the set-up and stay an hour or two after the game for takedown. We are in charge of setting up and tearing down all of the backdrops, tents, booths and interactive games you see right as you walk into Soldier Field.”
During the week, Walker works as a payroll specialist and bookkeeper for Rodosky Accounting in Dwight, Illinois, which is about 70 miles from Chicago.
For Dorn, who worked for the Chicago Dogs earlier this year, the drive to Soldier Field is substantially longer.
“It’s a huge commute, but I’ve got to sacrifice everything I’ve got,” said the communication studies and public relations double major.
That sense of urgency is palpable, as Dorn extends his reach to try to grab hold of his lofty goal.
“It’s always been a dream of mine to work in the NFL or professional sports,” he said.
Dorn staffed the Bears’ preseason home games, and now he has his first regular-season game under his belt, as well, as he was at Soldier Field for Chicago’s 38-20 season-opening loss to Green Bay.
“It’s been a great experience so far,” he said. “I’m excited for the future and what’s going to happen after this.”
One of the things that will happen is Dorn sitting down to pen handwritten letters to all 32 NFL teams.
“The goal is to be in the front office,” for one of those teams, he said.
Walker also hopes to keep moving up with professional teams, although she has her sights set on a different sport.
“I would love for my next step to be working with a Major League Baseball team,” she said. “It might be another game day position much like my job with the Bears – just something to start me out in the MLB.”
The power of internships
Last year, Walker was the first student to benefit from the College’s Yahnke Business and Economics Endowed Internship Fund, which was started by Monmouth graduate Dick Yahnke ’66 and his wife, Lee.
“My internship with the Chicago Dogs really did help me secure this position,” she said. “A lot of what I did before and after those games fall into the same things I do for the Bears.”
Dorn also credited his internship as a steppingstone.
“I got this position through my internship with the Chicago Dogs,” he said. “There were three guys dressed up in Bears gear, and I went up and talked to them, and we had a great conversation. That’s how I heard about working for the Bears.”
While Walker is involved with the fan experience, Dorn helps ensure that those fans get into the stadium.
“I do their game day ticket operations,” he said. “I get there before the gates open, but I’m not at the ticket window. If people have trouble with their tickets, that’s when I get involved.”
Dorn’s academic schedule helps with his regular commutes to Chicago’s lakefront, as he doesn’t have a class on Mondays until 1 p.m. However, he’s already told one of his professors, Tom Prince in business and economics, about a conflict he’ll have Nov. 9 when the Bears host a Thursday night game against Carolina.
A member of Phi Delta Theta fraternity, Dorn serves as the president of Interfraternity Council. Earlier this year, he received the College’s Emerging Leader Award, which recognizes a student who has demonstrated significant potential for success through involvement in their community and has exemplified personal growth and exploration of the unfamiliar.
It’s that type of exploration that Dorn knows he needs to continue.
“I would tell other students interested in something like this that if you have to make yourself uncomfortable, do it,” he said. “It’s all about connect, connect, connect.”
“I would tell students to put yourself out there and look at any experience that interests you,” she said. “You don’t have to start big. Sometimes it takes starting small to eventually lead your way up to something big.”
***Courtesy of Barry McNamara, Monmouth College***