The Twists and Turns of My Career Journey
Since graduating from Hamilton in 2015, my career has had its share of twists and turns. I thought I had some semblance of a career plan at graduation, but I don’t think I could have ever anticipated my current role as a digital site lead at MLB Network.
Ever since I can remember, I’ve been a fan of sports. One of my earliest childhood memories was my grandfather taking me to my first Red Sox game at Fenway Park. It was amazing to take it all in: my first Fenway Frank, the roar of the crowd, and the thrill of each pitch.
As a sports fan, everything that goes into a game broadcast has always been fascinating to me. From an early age, I knew I wanted to take a peek behind the curtain to experience the art of editing a highlight, writing an article, or calling play-by-play for a game. I find all of these things fascinating as they can really enhance the fan experience.
Not unlike a lot of freshmen, I thought I had it all figured out when I got to Hamilton. I had chosen the school for its great reputation for writing and hoped it would give me a chance to really hone and nurture that skill as I got ready for journalism school. After journalism school, the dream was to join Bill Simmons’ Grantland as an NFL writer right after graduating.
I threw myself into this dream while at Hamilton. I edited the opinion section of the Spectator, provided color commentary for the Hamilton basketball teams, and minored in Hispanic studies to improve my Spanish. I also was an athlete myself, competing on the men’s rowing team all four years at Hamilton.
I learned pretty early into my senior year that my career would not have a linear trajectory. Creative careers in media do not always have formal professional schooling like medical and legal professions. And the ever-changing way that people consume media in the 21st century has opened up lots of new and different opportunities.
Around January of my senior year, I made a snap decision to join Barbara Britt-Hysell and 11 other seniors in a Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages seminar. I decided that I didn’t necessarily need to start my sports writing career right away. It was OK to take a step back and do something I might never get a chance to do again, to live and teach abroad in Madrid, Spain.
By October, I was living in an apartment in Southern Madrid, teaching at a public school, and writing freelance articles on my favorite soccer team, Atletico Madrid. I loved my time in Madrid but I never quite had the same passion for teaching as sports media. After 11/2 years in Spain, I started to think about moving back to the U.S.
Having only visited New York City a handful of times and from Richmond, Virginia, I didn’t always imagine myself living in such a big city. However, I soon realized that most of the opportunities I was looking at were in New York City. With several of my Hamilton friends already in New York, I figured it would make sense to move there, teach English, and see if I could break into sports media.
Nine months of living in New York, seven journalism school applications, and over 100 job applications later, I received two pieces of great news within the same week: a job offer for a highlighter role at MLB Network as well as an acceptance letter for the University of Texas school of journalism. I contacted a few friends and a few Hamilton alumni for advice and decided learning on the job would be the better option for now. I could always go back to journalism school later if I thought I needed it.
When I first started at MLB, I honestly wasn’t so sure what my role would be. Having written for the Spectator and several freelance blogs, I had a good bit of experience writing 300-1,000 word articles about sports. However, within my first couple days I learned that my thoughts would be cut down to 32-character headlines and 140-character descriptions of game highlights. I had to find how to describe as much as possible about a play in clear, concise layman’s terms that would also appeal to a fan and make him or her want to watch a video. There was also the challenge of learning how to edit video and audio, manage content, and analyze key performance indicators to give baseball fans the best experience with the MLB app.
The role definitely had its learning curve. My first couple months included a lot of long nights watching spring training games and reading my coworkers’ descriptions of highlights to try to understand how every clip is written, tagged, and posted on MLB’s extensive video library.
However, the hard work quickly paid off as I was promoted to a digital site lead role less than five months after I started at MLB. My new responsibilities included editing my co-workers’ writing and tagging, assigning high-profile clips to a variety of sponsored programs, and ordering the clip list of the MLB.com homepage. I also was training new hires, a role that I enjoyed after my experience as a teacher. I was a bit surprised to take on so much responsibility so fast, but it gave me confidence that I could excel in this career.
During the recent COVID-19 pandemic, I found myself without a commute and gaining a lot of free time. I decided to use this time to explore what could be another potential passion for me, data analytics. I took a couple of classes with bootcamps Galvanize and General Assembly and submitted a final project on how to bet the NFL. After another long round of job applications, I recently landed my upcoming role as a digital publishing analyst at William Hill. My role there will include improving the app, brainstorming odds boosts and parlay promotions, and expanding company partnerships with ESPN and CBS. I’m excited to start my next career chapter!