SUNRISE, Fla. - When attempting to break into the world of working in professional sports, it's amazing where just one phone call, e-mail or simple inquiry of any sort could end up taking you.
For identical twins Brandon and Bryan Rivero, it was happening upon a job listing on the sports-centric career website TeamWorkOnline.com that led them to their first jobs within the industry, working first as student ambassadors and then later summer interns with the Florida Panthers.
A communications major entering his senior year at Florida International University (FIU) in the summer of 2018, it was Brandon that first discovered the Panthers were hiring ambassadors to promote their recently-launched "Student Rush" program on campuses throughout the region.
"I was looking for an internship during my senior year of college, and I know I wanted to do something sports-related. I do have dreams of working on the PR-side of sports one day," Brandon told FloridaPanthers.com. "While I was doing some research I came across a few Panthers internship opportunities. I applied for the student ambassador one. A month later I got an email to come in for an interview, and I guess I did well because I got the job."
After landing the ambassadorship with the Panthers, Brandon soon convinced Bryan to do the same. At that point, working together was something the twin brothers had grown accustomed to, ever since sharing their first job together at Domino's during their senior year of high school.
"We weren't too familiar with the organization, but it seemed like a great opportunity," Bryan said.
In the end, the twins landed both of the open ambassador roles.
Throughout the 2018-19 season, they worked directly with the Panthers, drumming up interest for the team around FIU's campus and working the "Student Rush" section during home games. They were given a budget to work with and even helped choose promotional items to give away.
It was during the season that the twins were also introduced the other areas of the team. While they reported to the club's marketing department on a weekly basis, once a month they were invited to BB&T Center and given a chance to meet with employees from other departments.
"We sit down with them and try to bring in other departments so they can get to know the other areas of the industry," said Jake Schreiber, a marketing coordinator with the Panthers. "We want to know their interests. Maybe it's not marketing that they want to end up in. Maybe it's PR or operations. We work with them on finding out what their future goals are and then help them."
Using those meetings a chance to unearth their true passions, the twins each ended up taking on new roles with the Panthers in June. Brandon joined the communications staff as an intern, while Bryan, although also a communications major, was drawn to the role of operations intern.
"I was always interested in how buildings and sports venues work and how things are run," Bryan said. "I expressed that to them. I was a little bit familiar with it, but I've learned a lot since I've been here thanks to my supervisor [Panthers operations coordinator Vanessa Terrero]. She's been great. She's been helping me with everything. I've learned a lot thanks to her." While his day-to-day routine can typically involve anything from work orders to helping process invoices and purchase orders from vendors, Bryan said his favorite part of being an operations intern is preparing for the unknown. At any given moment, he could be facing a new challenge.
"What's so unique about my position is that it's not a regular job where you're sitting at a desk all day," Bryan said. "There can be so many different things that can pop up. I don't know what I'm going to be doing the next day or the next hour. Things can always just start to pop up."
As for Brandon, his job might be a little more predictable, but that doesn't mean it's any less hectic. As a communication intern, he played a crucial role in helping the Panthers execute several high-profile events over the summer, including development camp and free agency.
"It's been amazing," Brandon said. "I'm so thankful every day to be a part of this organization and learn. It's been amazing to be a part of development camp, free agency and the NHL. To see how the communications staff works and how they take on those dates, I learned a lot."
With their internships coming to an end in August, both Brandon and Bryan are using their time with the Panthers to continue their respective careers in sports. Brandon plans to take on a full-time marketing and communications internship with Homestead Miami Speedway, while Bryan will remain with the Panthers to continue pursuing his career in operations as a full-time intern.
"It was a little bit scary at first," Bryan said. "The summer internships end in August, but once I got the news that they wanted to keep me on, I was excited. They already told me to be ready, because once the ice gets back down it's going to get crazy. I'm excited to work the season."
And although they'll soon go their separate ways for the first time in quite a while, Brandon and Bryan joked that splitting up a pair of identical twins should make life easier on other employees.
"It's been this way our whole life," Brandon laughed. "People say, 'Hey, Bryan!' And I just say, 'Um, hi.' I just go along with it. Sometimes you're just too busy to take the time to explain the twin thing. We've been around it our whole life. I'm used to being called Bryan and he's used to being called Brandon. I feel like we've always had the same jobs, so the fact that we were able to work for the Panthers together has been a fun journey. It's something we'll never forget."
To apply for Florida Panthers internships and learn more about open positions at the Cats, visit FloridaPanthers.com/Careers or Teamworkonline.com.