I guess you could say my career journey started the day after I graduated high school, when my parents made me get a summer job. I already had stints at Victoria's Secret & Hollister but I was ready to have a "big girl job". I knew I liked sports, but I didn’t have the slightest clue about job possibilities in that field. I didn’t even know where start.
After help from my grandfather (former high school coach) I was able to get an internship in the athletic department at the University of New Mexico, and from then on I volunteered anywhere they’d let me. I made a whole lot of copies during my time there, with the intent that it would all pay off. Eventually, I made the connections and got the experience I needed to get a job in the sports industry when I graduated.
I am no seasoned vet, but I have learned a few lessons along the way that I wanted to share with you, so you won’t be the lost rookie that I was.
The worst answer you can get to any question is no. However, you’ll be surprised at how often you’ll hear yes. My best example comes from my junior year in college, when I decided I wanted to work a college football national championship. I literally had no connections and all I knew was that it was going to be played in Miami. From working the 2012 NCAA tournament, I met Chris Yandle, who had just taken a job at the University of Miami. As a shot in the dark, I emailed Chris asking if he knew of any way I could come hang out with his staff in South Beach for some championship football. He gave me the media director’s email, and he then let little old me come and volunteer for the 2013 Orange Bowl & National Championship. It was an experience that became a pivotal point in my young career. You have to be willing to put yourself out there and be okay with hearing no.
I had arrived at AT&T Stadium for my first job interview with the Cotton Bowl. Not only was I blown away by the place, but by the staff’s kindness to everyone around them. Oftentimes you’ll meet people in this industry who won’t give you the time of day if they don’t think you can do anything for them. I’ll tell you this: people want to work with people they like. Everyone deserves your respect, from the security guard to the head boss man. You would never want to reach the top and be all alone.
I grew up in a day and age where participation awards are commonplace, so needless to say I thrive on positive reinforcement. In this industry there is no one waiting to pat your back when you do a good job, because let’s face it: that’s the expectation in a world where people are only paid to be great. It’s vital to have confidence in your work and keep grinding. People are noticing your work even when you feel like the stands are empty.
I had a surreal moment when my parents came to Dallas to attend their first-ever NFL game and to support me in my new job with the Cowboys. They are the only reason I am here. Their support and direction put me in the right positions. When I asked them to let me go to Nebraska for three weeks for the 2012 College World Series, they booked me on the next flight. They never hesitated to help where they could. When I get burned out and I just want to quit, they are there along with my incredible little sister to rejuvenate my spirits and keep me focused. It is imperative to have a team you can lean on.
I spent my spring breaks in college keeping track of rebounds at basketball tournaments instead of keeping track of my wallet or shot count at South Padre Island. I sacrificed most of the traditional college experience to get career experience. Sometimes I look back and feel like I missed out, but for the most part, I’m pretty happy I spent my Saturday nights building football highlight tapes. Working in the sports industry means you will sacrifice most holidays and most weekends, but as long as you are truly passionate about your work you will rarely complain.
Okay, let me just get this off my chest, but I hated school. I am the furthest thing from an academic, but I knew getting that little piece of paper was what stood between me and my future. I worked even faster and harder to get to the finish line, knowing that just on the other side was everything I worked for. I got my degree in multimedia journalism, but the reason I am where I am today is the experience I gained outside the classroom. The volunteering and internships are what loaded up my resume. Don’t lean on your degree to be your path.
I used to say "fake it until you make it" and I know that's phony but it works to have that attitude. A lot of times when I was chasing my dream of working in sports I felt like I had to have the necessary confidence to know that I could interview a certain coach or athlete. I always believed in myself that this was what I was meant to do. You'll find times working in this industry that things will be intimidating to you but you have to know that you can do it. If that sounds cliche, oh well, because it is true. Faith is 80% of getting there.
My final piece of advice is to cherish it all! If you’re working in sports, you’re working in the toy department of jobs – it’s a pretty cool gig. Of course you need to hold a sense of professionalism, but embrace all of your opportunities and be grateful for your position. Some of my favorite moments working in sports are spent in empty football stadiums hours before the game. It’s an awesome feeling to be alone in that emptiness, imagining the excitement and the infinite possibilities that lie ahead later that day.
I hope this helps, and of course if you have any questions please message me! I am happy to help where I can, and good luck!