“I've told them, go where you add value. Don't look for places where you're just like everybody else.”
The quote above is from Paul Watcher, a businessman and investment adviser whose clients include Arnold Schwarzenegger, Lebron James and Bono. I stumbled across this quote as I reread an article from 2015 about how Lebron James was starting to build his media empire. It struck a chord with me because this attitude is what inspired me to pursue a career in the sports industry and has kept me going.
At nine years old, I learned how to play tennis through a nonprofit program. If I was having a difficult time in school, I would relate it back to an experience I had on the court. I knew that I was capable of overcoming obstacles that I had because of sport. I then went on to join track in high school and rugby and crew in college. Having an athletic base led to an easier transition to a college where I barely knew anyone. When it was time to complete fieldwork and internships for my sport management program, I chose to work with intramurals and nonprofits. I loved seeing people have fun, form friendships and sweat a little in the process.
As a woman of color, it hasn’t always been easy to navigate a space I’m truly passionate about. I was the only woman of color in my undergrad cohort and I’m the only woman of color in my grad cohort. Don’t get me wrong, my classmates and professors were and are amazing. But sometimes when I’m sitting in those classrooms, doubt creeps in. I start wondering if I really belong and if I will be successful in this industry. I then feel guilty about having this doubt because I knew what I signed up for. I’m supposed to be a super strong woman defying stereotypes and breaking down barriers.
The truth is that everyone needs support at times. It is completely normal to feel a little out of place when you are in the minority group. That's why when you are trying to add value in places where you are not like everyone else, you also need to find your people. During undergrad, I started going to WISE (Women in Sports and Events) meetups in New York. I’m a part of an amazing group of women who make the Sparkles and Sports blog possible. This summer, I was a participant in the FLAME Program at the USOC. It was amazing to be in a program for minority students and recent graduates, half of whom were women, and learn about the Olympic and Paralympic movements.
I found out about the USOC FLAME Program through a sports leadership professor at Drexel on LinkedIn. Without this connection, I would have never heard about a program that has been around for 25 years and is geared towards people like me. Since there are a lot of resources out there, I wanted to create a list of some amazing sport internships, programs and forums geared for women and/or minority students. Bookmark them, find your people and then go where you add value.
Programs and Forums