There I was, my first full-time job out of grad school in a state that I always wanted to live. I was hired to
an Assistant Director position as part of a 2-person team for the athletic department. I was stoked for
the opportunity because the previous marketing department had left, so I would receive a clean slate to
try new ideas and make the sports I oversaw my own. The school was also in the process of renovating
its athletic complex, so many of the ticketed sports would be free for fans this season only. The teams
were coming off fairly successful seasons the year before, and overall things were pointing in the right
The pressure was intense from the athletic administration, but my supervisor and I were on the same
wavelength, and we were geared to elevate the department to national spotlight. Then my boss quit
unexpectedly. Right before basketball season. And things quickly spiraled out of control.
My responsibilities encompassed all aspects of marketing including:
1. Create the marketing and promotional plans for all 16 sports
2. Oversee student intern program
3. Design graphic pieces for email marketing, newspaper ads, video board graphics, sales pieces,
social media, t-shirts, etc.
4. Assist with sponsorship solicitations
5. Handle group ticket sales
6. Coordinate halftime performers and National Anthem singers
7. Produce game scripts, run the videoboard, play music, flip switches for arena lights during intros
8. Teach the volleyball courses at the University (side gig but nonetheless worth noting because it
added to my busy schedule)
Once my new supervisor was hired, I thought things would start to slow back down – Nope. I would get
bogged down at the end of the day and fall behind on work. I’d be finishing graphics and scripts an hour
before doors opened. My boss would tell me to leave the office early, but I felt like I would fall even
further behind. I ‘d spend 8 hours across two days on the phone with Daktronics trying to figure out how
to get Venus to upload the correct roster for the videoboard, only to be scolded by Sports Information
for wasting the SID’s time since we were using their laptop for test runs. I was at a complete loss and
had no one in my corner to back me up.
Then after the final home game of the season, I was called into the Associate AD’s office for a meeting
with my boss. I was told “Your career goals just don’t line up with what the department’s goals are
moving forward. We have decided not to renew your contract for next year.” To say I was devastated
was an understatement. I had put my heart and soul (and honestly tears) into this position. I had worked
every single home event. I began to question if I even wanted to work in sports anymore.
Then I saw the job posting for the university in my hometown. I was overqualified, and the position was
only guaranteed for two years, but I applied anyways thinking that if I moved back home I could decide if
I wanted to continue my career-path or have a quarter-life crisis.
Man am I glad that I took the chance to start over again! Sports were divvied up between 3 marketing
personnel, so I didn’t have to work every single home game. The external department was fully-staffed
and well-qualified, so I could focus on group sales and game day experiences. The coaching staff was
supportive and encouraged me to try new ideas even if they failed. The administration was full of strong
female mentors who lifted me up on a daily basis to learn and grow each day. I was finally home…. Until
I got engaged and moved to another athletic department to be closer to my fiancé.
So this is my advice to you:
1) Make sure that wherever you go, it is the right fit. Do you like how the department is
structured? Will you receive the help and guidance in order to be successful in the position?
What sports will you oversee? What other areas outside of gameday will you lead? Does your
supervisor’s and the department’s goals line up with your own?
2) Don’t be afraid to walk away. Don’t make yourself miserable by staying at an institution where
you feel like you don’t fit in and don’t get along with people.
3) Actively speak up if you need help. Don’t just assume that because you asked for help that you
will receive exactly what you need. Offer up some suggestions on how the other person can help
4) Don’t think you can do everything. Trust me on this one. You will get burned out before
basketball season even begins.
5) Don’t take a job just because someone offered it. Sure, you’re super excited for that first job,
but really dig down deep and figure out if it’s the right place for you at this moment in your