On April 11, I visited Sacred Heart University for their Women in Sports symposium. This year’s topic, #GetInTheGame, brought back four alumni who shared their journeys in sports media. Attending this symposium was a big deal for me. It was the first time in 20 years I returned Sacred Heart’s campus. As a woman in sports media, I feel it is not only important but beneficial and necessary to both learn from and support other women.
Before the symposium began I was able to take a tour of the Martire Business and Communications Center, home to the School of Communication, Media, and the Arts. The $50 million, 120,000 square foot center shares its home with the College of Business and offers students everything they need to start their career in sports media, and flourish in the industry.
As I entered the theater, I took particular notice of how many students played an active role in making sure everything ran smoothly. Like a well-oiled machine, everyone knew their place, job, and purpose, and never missed a cue. The symposium started with a panel of four all-female alumnae: Diana Cannizzaro, Nicole Granito, Alexandra Padalino, and Allison Gaskins. In comfortable conversation, they talked to each other and the audience about their path, and what those looking to break into the industry need to know to be successful. Both Ms. Cannizzaro and Ms. Gaskins are sports broadcasters, while Ms. Granito and Ms. Padalino prefer behind-the-scenes work in production. As someone who dabbles in and is eager to learn both, I enjoyed hearing about both sides. My only addition I would add would be to hear from someone in operations. Sacred Heart has a very popular Athletic Communications and Promotions program, and I would have loved to see and hear from a woman who was part of a school’s business side of athletics. But I digress.
Throughout the almost hour-long conversation I took diligent notes and paid particular attention to the major keys that seemed to get repeated over and over again. Here are my top six:
Ask for what you want, but know the difference between being pushy, aggressive and assertive. Find your voice.
Become an expert at what you do. Learn it all and don’t say no to trying new things. The days of having just one role are gone. You must be able to adapt to other positions and other responsibilities if you want to get promoted.
Networking and making connections will be your golden ticket more than you know.
You represent a large brand. Your professionalism and image, including your social media, are constantly being critiqued.
Positivity is everything. Confidence is cool, too.
You’re never too “old” to find your passion. This resonated with me the most.
Of course there were other important keys to success, but as I listened, these were the ones that lent themselves to a strong, overall foundation, not only for those wishing to start in sports media, but also for those who are already established.
After a brief set change, we were introduced to Alexa Ainsworth, producer for NBC Sports. Ms. Ainsworth reiterated the points brought up by her fellow media mavens and further stressed the importance of being a self-starter. She made it clear that nobody, especially in this business, is going to hand you a successful career. What you put into this business more often than not is what you get out of it.
As the symposium was winding down, Ms. Cannizzarro wanted to leave us with one final piece of knowledge. I wrote it down in big letters in my notes, as it is the one thing I find myself saying over and over again whenever I feel stuck: WHAT IS YOUR WHY? Why do you do what you do? Why do you want to go into sports media? What story do you want to tell? Most of us don’t do it for the money, as big pay days are the rare exception and not the rule. But if you find what you love, and it truly brings joy and fulfillment to your life and you can leave someone with a smile, hold on to that. You’re about to create something unforgettable.