We speak with the International Paralympic Committee Digital Media Manager on how she came to work at one of the world’s foremost international sporting federations and her advice to those looking to steer a career in sport from her journey so far.
Can you tell us a little about your position at the International Paralympic Committee (IPC)?
My current position is Digital Media Manager at the IPC. I work in a team of four in the digital team where my main role is content planning and creation for our social accounts including the Paralympic Games account as well as the 10 IPC sports for which we act as the International Federation. Beyond this, I help to oversee our in-house video production, sponsor digital activations and live streaming of events for our website and YouTube, Facebook and Twitter.
How did you begin your journey into a career in sport?
I am from the US and I did my bachelor’s degree in journalism before working in music and media. After about five years, I realised my passion was to work in sport, so I quit my job and went back to school to get a Masters in Sports Management in Tennessee.
I certainly got familiar with internships, I have probably done eight or nine internships between my undergraduate and masters studies. These were really valuable to get my foot in the door, get to meet people in the industry and help develop my skillset. This proved its value when I decided to move to Colorado after my masters and was able to get a job at the US Olympic Committee. From there I went onto the US Paralympics and USA Boxing. During this time I met some of those leading the IPC, such as Craig Spence [Chief Marketing and Communications Officer] and Alexis Schaefer [Broadcasting and Commercial Director] and was able to go with them to the Rio 2016 Paralympics as a temporary staff member to cover athletics on social media. About a year later a permanent position became available at the IPC and here I am.
What advise do you have for those looking to build a career in sport?
Certainly in the US there are lots of people wanting to work in sport, so competition is fierce, and can be very difficult to even get your foot in the door. For this reason, internships can be a great opportunity, but often even those are hard because there are many people wanting the same position and they don’t always lead to a job.
I believe it’s vital to start building your network within the industry, however you are able to do this. Maybe via internships or voluntary roles or even events and forums. This will help you get that foot in the door. Once you’re there, you must be humble and patient. Your first job won’t necessarily be what you're passionate about but make yourself indispensable and go the extra mile, which will lead to opportunities that you are more interested in doing long-term.
Looking back, if I hadn't done any one of my internships, which led me to meet someone, which led me to creating professional relationships and gaining tons of real world experience, I don't think I would be in the position that I am now. So definitely network, network, network and put yourself out there!
Why did you want to work in sport, what is your drive?
I have always been interested in sport and I think being in a traditional ‘9 to 5’ type role after working in music was never going to suit me. Perhaps most importantly, I have just always been very passionate about sport and I think in particular the Paralympic Movement as it has a unique way of bringing such a wide variety of people together through one common vision. I have grown up seeing the emergence of Facebook and Twitter and how social has impacted and amplified media coverage and it has been my ambition to combine these two aspects together.
What personal attributes are important in starting your career?
For us, we are a really small team, therefore we need people, even at internship level, who can come in and hit the ground running as we don't have the capacity to carry people. Taking initiative is really important, it’s not just about a list of tasks you need to complete, it’s about developing your ideas, making opinions and thoughts count and being proactive, that all helps to make you “indispensable.” These are some of the attributes we definitely look for at the IPC.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
No two days are the same, which I really enjoy. Being able to travel the world, meet such incredible athletes and help to grow the Paralympic Movement is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I also believe I work better under pressure, which we definitely have a lot of, particularly during Games-time, World Championships and other events. But I also love that I am able to be creative and innovative, that's something that pushes me to be better at my job. When you work in digital, the landscape is ever changing, and this is very important to be able to stay focused on delivering engaging content to our fans.
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