Thursday, December 26, 2013

To Round Out the Year!

Bulldog Hockey!
It's finally the end of 2013, and I can't believe it. So much has happened this year, but I don't feel like it's ending. I thought I'd write a post summing up everything I've done this year, plus my plans for next year!

This year was the year I discovered who I was. That sounds so cliche. Shouldn't we all really have that sense of self? I thought I did, but I definitely am more aware of who I am now and who I am meant to be than I ever was before. My year was very hectic to say the least. I worked non-stop. I took more than 18 credits spring and fall semester. I was on the executive board of my sorority. I had 2 internships, one of which consumed my life for 3 months. This is the first time I have ever been able to say, "I lived every second, and made the most out of every single opportunity handed to me."

Polar Plunge for Special Olympics!
Starting off with spring semester, I got into my upper division course work at the University of Minnesota Duluth. I was preparing for my internship. I also was having kind of a "mid-college" crisis. I broke up with a boyfriend. I was second guessing myself. I had that moment of, "What the hell am I doing with my life?" It was absolutely terrifying. I had come so far, and it all had come to this big test of if this was who I was meant to be. I think we all hit that fork eventually of either continuing your plans or choosing a different path.

I decided to continue my plans. Granted, I was scared. I was getting into sports marketing, which is male dominated, and a lot of the time, I felt like I was speaking and everyone was thinking how dumb I sounded. I felt in over my head and I felt like I would fail. I didn't tell my family or even my friends though. I have never been one to show a weak face. I forged ahead into my summer internship with the Duluth Huskies.

All of the interns!
The Duluth Huskies is a Northwoods League baseball summer league team consisting of collegiate athletes that are of major league caliber ability.  They play at Wade Stadium in West Duluth and this is where I was for almost half of every day this summer. I interned about 80 hours a week, which is NO exaggeration. There was a period of time in which I was up until 4:30 AM editing bullpen and batting practice video and back at the stadium at 10 the next morning. I was working even if I wasn't at the stadium. I was always in game day mode. My job was more from the marketing and promotional standpoint. I was on the mic for all of our in-between inning contests (I wasn't the greatest at this. I'm so awkward it's painful.). I also made some signage for the stadium as well as helped with any other tasks that needed to get done (helping with ticket sales, preparing for groups, answering phones, getting concessions ready, etc).

Post game!
It sounds crazy and some people didn't like it, but I loved every second of my internship with the Huskies. I made amazing friends on the management end and player end. I was around the sport I love more than anything: baseball. We had water balloon fights, played catch and fielded grounders, had Brock Talk about the Top 5 (inside joke) and of course, had the pre-game talk shows with Harry Caray, Tim Kurkjian, and John Gruden. It was the best summer of my life, hands down. In August, I had to write a paper summing up how effective I thought my internship was and that was when I sat down and thought about if this was meant for me. After months early in the year of worrying about if I made the right choice, I had never felt more confident in my decision of a career. I had found what I was meant to do with my life.

By the time September rolled around, I decided I was going to do more and more to progress my career. I got a mentor through the Mentor Connex program, and soon after that, was hired at Twins Ports Connex, helping students find internships and jobs. It's something I really enjoy and I love being able to help people find what they love to do.

I also developed a very close relationship with my Sports Marketing professor, Dr. Stephen Castleberry. He's been so helpful and given me so many opportunities to meet with professionals in sports. In his class, we implemented a marketing plan for the UMD Women's Basketball team, in which we reached out to local middle school teams, and the UMD freshmen, to get them excited about the upcoming women's season. It went better than we expected, and a girl even made a shot from half-court to win a phone. We also had to write a sponsorship proposal. A student in our class was competing in Red Bull Crashed Ice. We had to choose a company, and write out what we would offer them to sponsor the student in our class. I don't know if our proposal was chosen, but it was a lot of fun trying to communicate with companies as to what they are looking for in a sponsorship.

Carly and I at the Vikings game!
I also got extremely disappointing news this year. I interviewed twice with the Minnesota Twins, once on the phone and the other at Target Field. I thought my second interview went amazingly. We talked about sports venues, my opinion on Joe Mauer moving to first, who won the World Series; in other words, my bread and butter. They had standard interview questions of course, and situational questions, which were a lot of what I dealt with in my other sports internships. I walked out of Target Field like that's where I was working next year. I felt so confident that I locked it up.

I waited about 3 weeks for a phone call. On Friday, December 13th, I got the call I was waiting for. I was sitting in Business Communications, and I accidentally ignored the call. I walked out of the room calling the number back and got sent to Holly Corbin's (in human resources for the Twins) voicemail. I panicked that I wouldn't get a voicemail or anything. Finally my phone buzzed that I had a message. I said a quick prayer and listened to it. She said, "We found a candidate that better fits our qualifications. We thank you for your time and wish you nothing but the best."

Immediately I was in tears. This was my dream job. This was what I have worked on for 7 years. It was everything I wanted. My dream told me, "No." Even thinking about it now it breaks my heart. That may sound dramatic, but when you work on something your whole life and you don't get it, it's hard. I called my parents crying. I went back to class crying. I think I cried for the next 4 days. I am not the girl that usually does that, but I was hurt. I had no chance of finding a different baseball internship because I thought I was going to be with the Twins. I thought my world was preetttyyyy much ending.

A couple hours after getting that phone call, I was emailing, calling and messaging people asking, "What next?" To be honest, I needed someone to tell me that everything would be okay. I knew it would, but I basically needed someone to say it to my face. Everyone just said, "Maybe something better is around the corner for you." Here's a piece of advice: Don't say that, no matter how true it is. I know I didn't want to hear it. I wanted to be upset for a day.

I was connecting with marketing people on LinkedIn. I emailed my advisors and mentors. I contacted just about anyone I knew in sports, trying to find something for me to do. This was all the day of me finding out I didn't get the internship. I panicked.

After the weekend, I started to calm down a little bit and emailed Devin Graff, who I had interviewed with at Kernz and Kompany, a marketing and special events firm. It was something I was genuinely interested in, and wanted to do, but at the time of my interview, I was waiting on the Minnesota Twins. I emailed her, asking if there was still something available for me. She emailed me back later that day and offered me a position for next summer. Finally I felt a little more stable (This all sounds like it happened quickly, but if you know me, everything for me happens quickly and I have no patience).

Kallie and I at Phi Sig Winter Dinner!
To interject a little piece of advice for anyone who is like me, it's okay if you don't get the job you want. You have to think of some of the most successful people in the world. Most of them failed on their first try. Michael Jordan didn't make his high school varsity basketball team the first time he tried out. Bill Gates dropped out of college and so did Steve Jobs. J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter books were rejected 12 times before being accepted by a publisher. Sometimes your greatest successes come out of your greatest failures.

So now as I sit at home on my break from school, I look forward to 2014. One of my bosses at the Kitchi Gammi Club (a restaurant) told me that she wouldn't be surprised if I took over the world one day, and maybe that's what will happen in the future. ;) In all honesty though, a lot of what I will be doing is continuing my internship with UMD Athletics, one of my favorite things to do, and begin an internship with Kernz and Kompany. I also plan on attending a sports conference in March in North Carolina, to meet with some people from the NBA, ESPN, and many other sports companies. I'm really excited to meet and network with more people.

What I'm also going to be doing more of is blogging, and working on getting women more involved in sports business jobs. I posted a video on my Facebook a while back of a radio talk show host saying that women have no place in sports. I could go on for hours about how big of a moron this guy is, but I would be wasting my breath. I want women to feel comfortable working in sports businesses, and I want to inspire women to go after what they want to do. I joined a group called Women in Business, and hopefully, I'll meet other women there that want to do the same things.

2013 was a great year for me. I interned, Polar Plunged, was on executive board of Phi Sigma Sigma, went to 2 Twins games, 2 Wild games and a Vikings game. I failed a lot though too. I only have 3 semesters left of school but I'm happy that I'm making these mistakes now. Thanks to everyone who reads this and who has reached out to me asking for advice or who has given me advice. I'm happy that I can help some people. Enjoy the holidays with your family, and have a happy new year :)

My sister and I!

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