Recent graduate Parisa Vahid balanced her studies and senior thesis with a dream job as a member of the Carolina Hurricanes staff. She’ll keep cheering on the team as they play in the conference finals.
Parisa Vahid’s view of the Stanley Cup playoffs would make any hockey fan jealous. As a Carolina Hurricanes game night intern this season, she often watched the action rinkside, steps from the visiting team’s bench.
Vahid, a Long Island, New York, native, who graduated in May, grew up a “die-hard” hockey fan. She remembers going to New York Rangers games at Madison Square Garden with her dad when she was still in elementary school.
“It’s very much my favorite sport,” said Vahid, a multisport athlete who also spent her childhood figure skating.
When Vahid moved south to attend UNC, she didn’t expect her passion for hockey to grow. But a friend’s recommendation to intern with the Hurricanes’ communications team changed that. Despite her busy academic schedule as an economics major in the College of Arts and Sciences, Vahid knew she needed to apply. Accepting the offer was an “easy decision,” she said.
While game days for most Canes fans start at puck drop, Vahid’s game days began about four hours earlier when she and fellow interns would begin preparing media credentials for members of the press. She served as a liaison between the Hurricanes and the press throughout the night, managing tasks like relaying game statistics and media notes during intermission.
Her favorite part of the internship began after each game ended when she would join the visiting team for post-game interviews. During an especially surreal night on the job, Vahid joined a press conference with the Rangers, the team that ignited her love for the sport.
“‘Oh, my God,’” she remembers thinking that evening, standing beside the players. “‘This is everything you ever dreamed of as a kid.’”
When the Hurricanes hosted the sold-out Stadium Series game against the Washington Capitals in Raleigh in February, Vahid was tasked with announcing the game to the media section.
“It was the most nervous I’ve ever been in my entire life,” she said, laughing. Even though the sport is second nature to her, she practiced pronouncing all the players’ names on repeat before game time.
“Having the opportunity to not only be at a once-in-a-lifetime event, but to work that event and to be the voice of it is something I will never forget.”
Among her Hurricanes colleagues and UNC peers alike, Vahid is known for her work ethic. At Carolina, she served as an undergraduate learning assistant for “Intermediate Microeconomics” for three years. The course is taught by Michelle Sheran-Andrews, teaching associate professor of economics and a mentor who was the highlight of Vahid’s Carolina experience.
Vahid’s studies also made their way to the rink. She often brought her senior thesis writing to PNC Arena to complete in her downtime.
“The fellow interns have literally heard about it from day one,” she said about the thesis. Her paper topic was women’s sports –– specifically the differences in spending and revenue production in collegiate basketball. The research paired well with her internship. Both experiences made her an even fiercer advocate for encouraging women to work in professional sports.
“The thing that I’ve taken away from my schoolwork and from working this year is that there are opportunities for women to do really powerful things like in sports at large,” she said. “And I’m hopeful to see where that goes.”
Since graduation, Vahid has been busy packing to move back to New York for a finance job with Morgan Stanley. She worked her last game with the Hurricanes on May 18, the first game of the conference finals against the Florida Panthers. The game went to quadruple overtime, the longest game in franchise history for the Canes and sixth-longest in NHL history.
Though the internship is over, she hopes it is not her last time working in hockey.
“For a really long time, I have thought I want to go into sports full time at some point in my career,” she said. Thanks to the Canes, “I very confidently know that now.”
By Jess Abel