I had the honor of representing the Association for Women in Sports Media’s Michigan State chapter and the Michigan State sports journalism program at the Association for Women in Sports Media’s (AWSM) national convention in Denver May 23-26, along with Sports Journalist in Residence Joanne Gerstner. I was lucky enough to be selected as one of the organization’s of five national internship/scholarship recipients and will be spending the summer in Bristol, Conn. working for ESPN’s production department. The opportunity to kick-start my post-grad career at the organization that put sports broadcasting on the map still seems like a dream. I don’t think there was any better way to realize that I am one step closer to that dream becoming a reality than networking with some of the most powerful and influential supporters of women in the sports world.
The weekend kicked off with a student chapter meeting on Saturday. Michigan State’s student chapter of the Association of Women in Sports Media (AWSM@MSU) finished second to in this year’s chapter of the year voting. At the student chapter meeting, I shared some ideas and events that I believe made our chapter successful, and also had the opportunity to gather new ideas from other student chapters. I discussed some ideas for improvement and events for next year with Joanne, who serves as one of our faculty advisors, along with LA Dickerson. Although I graduated from Michigan State this spring, I’m excited to relay the information and ideas to the incoming officers so that AWSM@MSU continues its growth.
After the student chapter meeting, all of the conference attendees went bowling at Lucky Strike. I was honored with my scholarship at this event, and also had the opportunity to meet many of the individuals who were integral in the planning and execution of the conference as well as others who would be serving on panels or running booths at the career fair.
The majority of the rest of the weekend consisted of panels and Q&A’s. Among the topics were combatting stereotypes (Joanne was a moderator for this panel), finding compelling video, handling criticism, landing a story, appealing to millennials and being a one-woman show. There were also a number of keynote speakers during meals. Lunch on Sunday featured MLB’s Wendy Lewis and Billy Bean, who are spearheading the league’s efforts for inclusion and diversity. Olympic swimmer Missy Franklin spoke about her life, accomplishments and encounters with the media during lunch on Monday and U.S. Anti-Doping Agency CEO Travis Tygart spoke at the convention’s closing ceremonies on Monday night.
For me, the best part of the convention was getting to know those in attendance, especially my fellow internship/scholarship winners and other student chapter representatives. A common phrase at the convention was that the sports media world isn’t six degrees of separation, it’s really two degrees. I made it a point to introduce myself to everybody I met. Everyone at the convention was passionate about the advancement of women in sports media. That, right there, established a link. The people I met, whether my peers, professors or professionals in the industry could help me find a job or know od someone that is hiring. They may end up working somewhere I want to work, or may just be there to talk about the state of sports media and life in general. It was refreshing to go grab pizza with some other women who are in the same boat as me when it comes to career aspirations, or to talk with a professional who genuinely seemed interested in helping me improve my resume and giving about job searching and post-grad life.
The AWSM convention may not be the biggest in all of the sports media world, but I think that’s what makes it one of the best. I was able to talk one-on-one with so many powerful and influential individuals. That’s not an opportunity that comes around too often. When I hopped on my plane back to Detroit, I felt empowered, inspired and already had my fingers crossed that I’d be able to attend the 2016 AWSM convention in Miami.