A Drexel Co-op at the 2018 Winter Olympics

Ryan Roe with Soohorang, the mascot of the 2018 Winter Olympics.
Ryan Roe with Soohorang, the mascot of the 2018 Winter Olympics.

The 2018 Winter Olympic Games in South Korea are now over, after millions of Americans watched the events and cheered on Team USA. Ryan Roe, a Drexel University junior, was one of those fans — except he was actually at the Winter Games as part of his co-op and watched those events in person.

The TV production and media management student in the Antoinette Westphal College of Media Arts & Design is still overseas — he’s now visiting Seoul in the interim between the Winter Olympics and the upcoming Winter Paralympics in Pyeongchang, which he will also work at as part of his co-op. But he took time out of his schedule to answer a few questions for DrexelNow about his experience.

What was your co-op position and what company did you work for?

My position was sports presentation administrator in the Gangneung Curling Centre. I was hired by the Olympic Committee as a volunteer in the broadcasting department so I was unpaid, but the Olympics provided housing, meals and transportation for all of the volunteers.

How did you find out about that co-op? What made you want to take that opportunity?

Ryan Roe and a statue of the Olympic flame in Pyeongchang.

I was watching the 2016 Summer Olympics and wondered what it would be like to attend an Olympic Games, but I assumed it would always be too far or too expensive of a trip. I did some online research to see if there were opportunities for interns or temporary jobs during the Olympics — and I found that you could submit an application to volunteer at Pyeongchang!

I knew if I somehow got accepted there would be a lot of things to figure out and plan for before going, but I figured there was no harm in applying. In the end, it worked out perfectly and I knew I may never have this kind of perfect timing to do something like this again!

This was just a winter term co-op, right? Did you have to switch your co-op cycle or get special approval — and what was that process like?

In my major, students usually do a spring/summer co-op. After talking to the department head and my academic and co-op advisors, we decided this was too good of an opportunity to pass up so we changed my co-op cycle to winter/summer. I’ll be doing a separate internship this summer with another company to complete the two terms of co-op. It wasn’t a difficult process either — I didn’t have to jump through many hoops.

Since the class schedule and requirements for TV students is set up for a spring/summer co-op, I had to plan out my remaining terms and make sure I could still take all the required classes in time. I’m also a transfer student to Drexel — I came here as a sophomore — so I’ve already had to plan my classes differently than all the other students in my major.

How long are you going to be in South Korea? What did you do for your co-op before and after going over there?

I came to South Korea in late January after doing a few weeks of language training in the U.S. Once I landed, I started job training for about a week and a half until the games started on Feb. 8. I was there for the entirety of the games, and now I’m spending a few days in Seoul before I go back to Pyeongchang to work at the Paralympic Games, which are from March 8 to March 18.

Ryan Roe, left, with coworkers in the curling arena at the 2018 Winter Olympics.

What did you do at the Olympics? What were your job duties or responsibilities?

I was essentially an intern for the broadcasting team in the Curling Arena. Before and after the actual curling matches I was distributing scripts, doing research and making Excel sheets for the producers and announcers. During the matches I would guide the different artists, bands and even mascots that would come to perform and make sure they were in their places, and also help with audience activities like dance-cams and giveaways.

Did you get to go to any games or events?

Yes! Volunteers could get a lot of free tickets to events that weren’t sold out, so I saw events like figure skating, ski jumping, snowboarding, hockey, bobsledding and, of course, lots of curling! Every night the medals ceremonies were held in a separate venue instead of giving the athletes their medals right after the event, so I went to one of the ceremonies and saw athletes receive medals for six different events that day.

What was your favorite part of the experience?

The most exciting moment for me was when the USA men’s curling team made it to the finals and pulled a huge upset against Sweden. I had worked there and saw every match that Team USA played and saw them barely making the playoffs — and to somehow watch them win the gold and sing our national anthem in the stadium was incredible and inspiring! I met a few of the curling athletes like Matt Hamilton from the USA team, but I also got to know a lot of the athletes’ family members. Most of what I know about curling I learned from watching the matches with them.

Was this your first time going to South Korea or doing an international co-op?

This was my first time working at the Olympics and first time in South Korea, but I had worked in Asia before. The summer after my freshman year, I interned at a marketing company in Hong Kong. But it was still a big transition and there was a lot I had to get used to in the beginning.

How does this co-op relate to what you want to for your career? Was there anything from your past co-ops or classes that helped you prepare for this co-op?

I’d like to one day be a producer in either sports or comedy television, so just getting to work and talk with some of the most experienced producers in a variety of TV genres was an important opportunity for me. All of the classroom knowledge I’ve gained in the past two years at Drexel certainly helped me to show these producers that I was serious about a career in TV and I was willing and able to learn from them. The classes I’ve taken in editing, live directing and TV business prepared me to work here as I was almost never unfamiliar with what the directors and producers were talking about. I really think it showed.