Landon Bahl’s knack for networking landed him a job as a stage manager with the ACM Awards show
Networking. Networking. Networking.
If you’re a student, that’s all you ever hear nowadays when it comes to career advice. But how beneficial is it really? Who, from around here, has gotten anywhere exciting through networking?
Landon Bahl that’s who.
You may recognize Bahl from the jumbotron at hockey games in the Ralph Engelstad Arena (REA) this past winter, entertaining the crowd as master of ceremonies.
Bahl, a native of Minot, N.D., recently headed down to Texas to work behind the scenes at the Academy of Country Music (ACM) Awards show, where he was surrounded by the who’s who of country music.
“It’s pretty close to what I can envision my dream job being; it’s a huge step in the right direction,” said Bahl.
According to Bahl, networking is what sets you apart from other students, and he has proved that through his new job at the ACMs.
The show ACM show aired Sunday (April 19) at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, the home of the Dallas Cowboys. It was hosted by country music stars, Blake Shelton and Luke Bryan, and included performances by both Shelton and Bryan, Brooks & Dunn, Jason Aldean, Dierks Bentley, Garth Brooks, Kenny Chesney, Eric Church, Miranda Lambert, Reba McEntire, George Strait, Keith Urban, Florida Georgia Line, Alan Jackson, Martina McBride, Brad Paisley, Lady Antebellum, Little Big Town, Rascal Flatts, Sam Hunt, Thomas Rhett and Cole Swindell. There also were special performances by Christina Aguilera and Nick Jonas & Dan + Shay.
Working for UND Athletics has greatly expanded Bahl’s personal network to include UND alumnus and former REA events manager Chris Semrau, who now works as an events manager in Sioux Falls, S.D. Last fall, Bahl was applying to be a volunteer at the ACMs. When Semrau, also a Minot native, heard this, he asked Bahl for his paperwork and personally sent it in.
Before Bahl knew it, he was going through two hours of conference calls, ultimately resulting in Bahl getting a job as one of the show’s stage managers.
“It’s shocking how knowing someone who knows someone can be that big of a benefit for you,” said Bahl. “If I hadn’t known Semrau, I would maybe get to be a volunteer but definitely not a staff member.”
While Bahl is still figuring out exactly what he will be doing at the ACMs, he is ecstatic and ready for anything. And it’s all because Bahl saw an opportunity and went for it.
“People think that everyone else is applying for all these cool jobs, but that’s not true,” said Bahl. “You just have to do it because so many other people aren’t trying to do it.”
Beforehand, Bahl prepared himself as much as possible for the ACMs and the opportunities it may lead to; he even created personal business cards to hand out at the ACMs to help him stand out from others. It wasn't Bahl’s first time working with country music stars; he also has assisted with The Band Perry and Eric Church concerts at the REA and will be serving as a special events intern with the Luke Bryan concert on May 8 at the Alerus Center.
“I want to be the next Ryan Seacrest,” he says.
Bahl isn’t afraid to reach for the stars. His dream job is to be the host of a TV show, and he also wants to work in the Olympics someday.
“I don’t know of an event larger than the Olympics — it’s the end all be all job,” said Bahl.
Bahl’s journey to the ACMs started his sophomore year of high school when he worked as stagehand at the North Dakota State Fair. There he realized that the entertainment industry could offer him a fun and exciting career.
“I love the ‘on your feet, on the go’ mentality you have to have,” said Bahl.
When Bahl got to college, he hit the ground running. He joined numerous student organizations to expand his network and is currently involved in at least nine organizations and holds various executive positions in each.
“Networking enhances your college experience,” Bahl says. “I don’t think many students understand just how important networking will be for them. If I could major in involvement, I’d be a 4.0 student.”
Bahl started working for UND Athletics his freshman year, first as an intern in media relations, then as marketing intern for two years.
“I had always thought, ‘gosh, that would be cool to be the announcer,’” said Bahl. “I eventually approached my boss and asked what I would have to do to get that job.”
And voila, that’s how Bahl landed the announcing position at UND men’s hockey games.
“It never hurts to ask,” Bahl said, “Yeah, it’s intimidating; yeah, it’s scary; but not many can say no to a student wanting to volunteer for free in exchange for experience.”
Bahl’s story proves that networking truly can play a major role in making career dreams come true — especially when there are UND alumni willing to play an active role helping students succeed.
Bahl will be graduate from UND in May 2016. He is double majoring in entrepreneurship and marketing, and minoring in sport business.
“You really have to start networking right when you get to college,” said Bahl. “You can never network too much.”
University & Public Affairs student writer