Emphasizing networking and persistence, a panel of UConn alumni students working in sports business shared their experiences to a full room of students in room 434 of the Austin Building Tuesday night.
Cecily Faenza, a 2009 graduate, who now works as the social media manager for the New England Patriots, talked about figuring out her passion for sports management after leaving UConn with a communications major. She went to the University of South Carolina for graduate school to pursue education in sports business.
Faenza said she initially worked as an intern for the Carolina Panthers and as a Game Day assistant for UConn before eventually finding herself interning with the Patriots. She was later offered a full-time public relations position with the organization. She was promoted to her current position last summer.
Faenza also talked about how important it was to know people in the industry, mentioning her own experiences in college and how she became connected to the Patriots through her peers and network of contacts. She also said education was necessary but that working experience was just as needed to get a job in the industry.
Faenza called for students and future employees to be open to all opportunities as well, so that they could figure out what they like or don’t like.
Kelsey Hahn, a 2014 graduate and social science major, talked about her experiences interning through the sports business program at UConn, but said it was difficult for her to find a long-lasting job in the industry.
Hahn said she initially worked at NBC Sports for freelance production and commuted two hours to the Stamford branch from Madison for just under half a year. She eventually quit, not knowing what she was going to do, but got an email from a professor at UConn who knew someone that wanted prospects for a new job.
Hahn said her networking at UConn and persistent communication with people at UConn before her graduation helped her get a job as a crewing coordinator for ESPN. Every other panelist concurred, mentioning the importance of keeping in contact with people from college.
“If you already have a network, there’s no need to go to grad school,” Faenza said. “If you’re going to grad school, make sure you know where you want to do and aren’t just doing it because you’re unemployed.”
Another member of the panel, ESPN associate principal counsel Allison Cantor, a 2004 undergraduate who earned her judiciary degree in 2010 and previously worked as the team manager for UConn women’s basketball team, talked about her time trying to juggle her academic, professional and social lives.
Though she said it was difficult, Cantor said the life skills she gained from her extracurricular activities helped her prepare just as much as in-class material for the real world, if not more.
“There’s a fine line between being obnoxious and actually following up, staying in touch and maintaining a connection with people you meet,” Cantor said, referring to her network of contacts from college.
Other panelists included Dan Lee, who earned his masters in sports management in 2010 and Katelin Stevens, a 2011 communications major. Lee currently works as an assistant athletic director in Needham High School in Massachusetts, while Stevens works as a remote editor for ESPN.
There will be four more panels held through the semester, including panels in public health and healthcare industries, history and political science majors, biology majors and communications and marketing industries, according to UConn’s website for the college of liberal arts and sciences.