The Charger Blog

Esports Students Lead the Charge at Prominent Conference

Whether they were helping to manage the event or serving as panelists, several Chargers took the lead at the College Esports Expo in Boston this spring. They say it was a "tremendous" opportunity to gain industry experience while connecting with professionals and fellow esports enthusiasts.

June 2, 2023

By Renee Chmiel, Office of Marketing and Communications

Chargers at the College Esports Expo.
Several Chargers took part in the College Esports Expo.

Derek J. Smith '23 M.S. and Vincent Ciavarella '21, '23, M.S. took part in a discussion this spring during which they shared their passion for esports as well as their experiences as part of the University's esports program. Their conversation was part of a fireside chat, of sorts, at a conference that brought together a large and diverse group of esports professionals and fans.

Ciavarella and Smith were panelists in "From the Classroom to the Boardroom – the Journey from Esports Student to Esports Career," a discussion held as part of the College Esports Expo (CEX). Dubbed "the largest collegiate esports conference in the world," the event, held in Boston, examined a wide array of topics and offered networking opportunities.

As part of the conversation, Smith shared an overview of the courses he has taken at the University, as well as his industry experience. He was excited to discuss what it has been like for him to be a graduate student in the first esports business master's program in North America.

"I discussed how the University has really helped set up students for success by providing us access to industry experts and industry executives to teach classes," he said. "This was a great opportunity because I got the chance to share with others how the University is having an impact on the esports industry. It was also a great opportunity to meet and network with others in the industry."

"It was an excellent opportunity to learn and grow in the esports industry." Andrew Ghataora '24

For Ciavarella, it was his first time attending a professional esports conference. While helping scan attendees' tickets, directing them, and assisting his colleagues during the conference, he connected with esports enthusiasts and professionals from a variety of sectors within the industry. He describes it as a "tremendous opportunity.

"My experience at the conference taught me a great deal about the industry that cannot be learned in a classroom," continued Ciavarella. "I had the opportunity to converse with professionals in the field and to apply the knowledge and guidance I obtained to my esports course material. I gained a better understanding of the conduct and networking approaches of industry experts relative to those in other industries."

'Meaningful industry experience'

The event united esports competitors, educators, and industry professionals, as well as students, and coaches. It also included several Chargers, such as Bo Yu, Ph.D., a sport management lecturer at the University, who was also among the CEX panelists. Ceyda Mumcu, Ph.D., chair of the University's Sport Management Department, says this was a great opportunity for the Chargers and for the University.

"In the University's Pompea College of Business, we aim to support community and industry partners," she said. "We were ecstatic to support the operations of the College Esports Expo and to provide meaningful industry experience to our esports and gaming students. They gained hands-on experience and networked with esports and gaming industry professionals."

Vincent Ciavarella '21, '23, M.S., Derek J. Smith '23 M.S., and Andrew Ghataora '24
Left to right: Vincent Ciavarella '21, '23, M.S., Derek J. Smith '23 M.S., and Andrew Ghataora '24 at the conference.
'An excellent opportunity to learn and grow'

The networking was particularly meaningful for Andrew Ghataora '24, an esports and gaming major. Serving as director of operations for the conference, he ensured that everything ran smoothly, collaborating with the venue manager, designing the layout, and managing social media. He also coordinated with panelists.

"The expo taught me a great deal about what it takes to run a successful esports event," he said. "I gained firsthand experience with the logistics involved. Additionally, I was able to network with a variety of esports professionals with various backgrounds, which helped me to narrow down my future career plans. Specifically, I have decided to pursue a career in collegiate esports."

Ghataora says being a part of CEX was an "amazing experience." It's an event he plans to continue to attend, whether he helps run it or attends it as an esports enthusiast.

"This was an exceptional opportunity for me as a student, and I believe it will have a lasting impact on my career," he said. "I gained valuable real-world experience and had the opportunity to network with industry professionals. I believe it was an excellent opportunity to learn and grow in the esports industry."