Last year, the Portland State School of Business Administration began offering undergraduate classes in the athletic and outdoor industry, so as to appeal to students and those in the industry.
With positive feedback and interest in the courses, the Athletic and Outdoor Industry Certificate Program was launched this fall.
“When we announced last spring that we were going to begin offering this program in the fall, the response was overwhelming,” Lauren Beitelspacher, assistant professor and director of the program, said. “We had tons of undergraduate students inquiring about the program.”
Beitelspacher said that they had working professionals inquiring about the program as well.
“This led us to develop the Athletic and Outdoor Program Management Certificate through our Center for Executive and Professional Education,” Beitelspacher said.
Though they’re similar in content, the primary difference between the two programs is the intended audience. Kristen Pederson, director of Center for Executive and Professional Education, said that their audience for the program is those that are out of school and interested in the athletic and outdoor industry.
“We’re really targeting students who probably already have a degree and are currently working in an A&O retail store or in an A&O company already, but maybe want to move into a position or want to move up,” Pederson said. “Or it’s people who are doing something totally different and want to get into the industry. That’s who our courses are for.”
There are five required courses and they will start in mid-January. Each course is five evenings long, Mondays and Wednesdays, from 6-9 p.m. Since the people taking these courses most likely have a degree already, it is not necessary to be a PSU student. The program is open to anyone, and registration opened last week.
“I think the cool thing about [this program] is that the instructors all currently work in the industry,” Pederson said. “So anybody taking the non-credit program are going to get a lot of exposure to people [who] are in the job that they may want to do themselves.”
The first class in the series, Introduction to the Athletic and Outdoor Industry, is taught by Beitelspacher. The next is Product Planning taught by Mitch Menendez, the director of football apparel at Nike.
Austin Davidsen and Will Sandman teach the third class together, Material Sourcing. Both men work for leather and synthetic leather companies that distribute to other big companies who make shoes.
The fourth class is Merchandise Management, taught by Sue Parham. Parham has worked for Columbia, Nike, as well as others, and also founded her own marketing firm.
The fifth and final course is Branding and Positioning, taught by Ian Yolles, who is currently working in the sustainability side of Recyclebank. He was also the co-founder of Nau, a social venture apparel company.
“We have a great breadth of instructors that have direct connections with the industry,” Pederson said. “I think it’s a fantastic opportunity for anyone that wants to go into the industry.”
Beitelspacher added that students who are interested in working in the industry are really at an advantage.
“[They] are better prepared to understand the nuances and unique challenges of the athletic and outdoor industry,” Beitelspacher said.
The program is also the first of its kind. “There are so many companies in this area of all sizes and I really think this will get people excited and give them a lot of information,” Endicott said.
Currently, Oregon has over 800 athletic and outdoor companies.
“The industry has a huge impact on the Oregon economy and is a competitive advantage for the region,” Beitelspacher said. “We hope that we are poised to add to the talent pool to make this area even more attractive for athletic and outdoor firms.”
For more information, visit http://www.pdx.edu/sba/athletic-outdoor.