SCAN highlights School of Communications alumni who recently landed jobs in their field. Rebecca Sweat (BA, Public Relations, 2007) works as the director of athletic marketing and promotions at the University of Texas — Pan America in Edinburg, Texas.
SCAN: How did you find out about the job you have?
Rebecca Sweat: I found the job through networking. An acquaintance told me about the opening and I found the listing online.
SCAN: How did you prepare for the interview?
RS: I did a few practice interviews and made sure that my portfolio was in order. I tried not to put too much pressure on myself — a good night’s sleep also helps.
SCAN: What was the toughest question they asked?
RS: Since I’m not from the area, they asked what new ideas I could bring to the Rio Grande Valley. I had to give specific examples of promotions and marketing plans.
SCAN: Any advice for those looking for a similar job?
RS: Network! Network! Network! Also, don’t be afraid to take on extra internships or volunteer hours, even if they don’t pay. Every opportunity I had throughout college and as a graduate was because of who I knew and who could recommend me. It may be a lot of work but will pay off in the end.
Also, never give up! I wasn’t able to find a great sports job right after graduation but I stayed within the communications field and kept applying until I found the right fit. Everything will happen and fall into place when the time is right. Keep believing!
SCAN: What Web sites would you recommend for those interested in your field?
RS: The best Sports PR and Marketing blog is joefavorito.com. It is updated daily and features best practices from the professional and collegiate level. My favorite job searching Web site iswww.teamworkonline.com. That one is mostly for professional sports. For collegiate job searching, nacda.cstv.com andwww.cosida.com are great.
SCAN: What Web sites would you recommend just for killing time?
RS: www.utpabroncs.com is pretty good! Bill Simmons blogon espn.com is awesome! I usually click around different local and national news sites. It’s important to be aware of what’s happening around you. In today’s business climate, I need to understand where our best opportunities to connect with sports fans can be found.
SCAN: What classes did you find the most valuable in preparing you for this job?
RS: Sports Information Production (Thanks Matt Schutte!!!) and Sports Marketing were the best! They really helped connect everything we learned in PR classes with the sports business world. The classes are also really great for networking and meeting people in the sports business.
SCAN: Best way to fuel creativity?
RS: The best way for me to fuel creativity is to just relax and talk through ideas. My best promotion to date was created when my intern and I were bouncing ideas off each other. We had a game the night before Thanksgiving and were trying to figure out how to get students in the stands. It started off as a joke, but who knew four students would end up competing in a competition called “Eat an 8 lb. turkey for an 8GB iPod?”
SCAN: In five words or less, how would you describe your working environment?
RS: Fun, crazy, busy, rewarding, competitive
SCAN: Who is the person in your field you most admire?
RS: There isn’t one specific person that I look up to, but I really admire collegiate programs like Duke, Texas and Florida. On the professional level, I look up to the Spurs right now. Their market is very similar to mine. It’s a small metropolitan area, they have a large Hispanic audience and their local competitors are minor league teams.
I have been really lucky in my short career to have worked with some of the best in the business. I still look up to my mentors in St. Louis and ask them for advice. The staffs at Saint Louis University and the Missouri Valley Conference taught me a lot about being a professional. As far as coaches to work with, SLU Women’s Basketball Coach Shimmy Gray-Miller and her entire staff are the best. I still keep in touch everyone I have worked with.
SCAN: The best part about working here is …
RS: The students and surrounding community. UTPA has some of the best students in the world. Working on the collegiate level allows me to be involved with the university as a whole, not just athletics. The Rio Grande Valley community is also a great, growing community. I have so much fun taking our athletes and mascot to schools and community events.
SCAN: Who is your dream co-worker (real or fictional)? Why?
RS: My dream coach to work for is Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski. He has built a dynasty and has integrity. I would also really like to work with David Stern, NBA Commissioner. He has expanded the NBA brand into a global brand. It would be amazing to work for a league that crosses continents.
SCAN: The best way to start your day as a director of athletic marketing and promotions is …
RS: With a huge cup of coffee. My days are never slow or dull. They start early in the morning and sometimes end around 10 p.m.
SCAN: Where do you see your career in 10 years?
RS: In 10 years, I hope to be with a professional team or league. The collegiate level is great, but you have more freedom and funding for marketing ideas in the professional world.
SCAN: With money from my first job my first big purchase was (or will be) …
RS: So far, my big purchases are on tickets and travel. I love to go to games in different cities. It helps me get ideas from what others are doing. So far, I’ve been to San Antonio to see the Spurs. I will also be going to Houston and St. Louis for games.
SCAN: What do you plan to do on your next vacation day?
RS: My next vacation day will be spent at the Women’s Final Four in St. Louis!
SCAN: What do you miss most about Webster?
RS: I miss everything about Webster! Professors, student organizations and most of all, the friendships I made.