Alumni discuss breaking into sports industry

By Jillian Santacroce                                                                                                Staff Writer

The School of Business recently hosted an alumni panel that focused on the sports industry, during which students from within the department and from other majors gathered to hear industry advice from alumni who studied management, criminal justice, journalism and communication studies while at the College.

Held in the Business Building Lounge on Thursday, Feb. 18, the panel featured Christoph Schoenbeck ’10, Jason Cantor ’10, John Fierko ’88, Craig Haley ’91, Tom McCarthy ’90 and Kristina Shemming ’10. With representatives from Major League Soccer, the National Football League, Trenton Thunder, STATS LLC, the Philadelphia Phillies and iHeartMedia, there was something of interest for everyone.

One of the individuals at the packed panel, sophomore marketing major D.J. Kleinbard, came to the event thinking about his future and possible career.

“I hope to learn how to get into the sports industry… I don’t want to be a straight marketing major and get some corporate job,” Kleinbard said. “I’m hoping to learn how to get into that (industry) out of this panel.”

The panel served as a way for students to have face-to-face interactions with professionals and to think of ways to make their own college experience more beneficial for their career aspirations. The major themes discussed during the event were the importance of internships, how friends can be used as a networking source, brand creation, the advantages of informational interviews and how to pay your dues — agreeing to smaller job positions that can lead to a stronger résumé for the future.

Shemming, the iHeartMedia senior account executive, had a start to the industry that combined many of the themes stressed during the networking event. Though she majored in health and exercise science while at the College, she also found a calling for communications and journalism, which led her to minor in those fields and pursue internships at MTV Networks, Sirus XM Radio sports department and CBS Radio and later a paid internship after graduation with the MLB Network’s marketing department.

“You don’t really think of your friends as possible people to network with,” said Shemming, reflecting on her experience of reconnecting with a former soccer teammate who graduated from the College. Shemming was interning at CBS Radio while her friend was working there, which led her teammate to set her up with an informational interview. Thanks to the experience, Shemming fell in love with the sports sales world.

Panelists take questions from students and give personal insight.
Panelists take questions from students and give personal insight.

After a series of discussions led by moderator Schoenbeck, senior manager of operations for Major League Soccer, students had the opportunity to have their questions answered. Attendees asked about the work environment of a sports career, the importance of obtaining part-time job positions and college degree requirements.

“I don’t think it’s necessary in the sports world,” Philadelphia Phillies announcer McCarthy said.

In his opinion, an individual’s work ethic and résumé will show the credentials needed for the work position. Though a master’s degree can be beneficial in the sports industry, the lessons and skills learned through practical experience have the power to separate a graduate from the rest of the pack applying for the same position, McCarthy said.

As an individual that yearns to work in the sports industry in the future, junior journalism major Julia Livesey found the panel to be a beneficial experience.

“Overall, I think the sports panel was a fantastic way to not only network, but to also listen to former TCNJ students explain how they found their niche in the sports industry,” she said.