SPORTS SERIES – This April, we’re casting a spotlight on T. Howard Foundation (THF) alumni who are working and/or pursuing careers in Sports. Each week we will highlight an alumnus who will share their experience(s) working in the industry, how they got started and advice for others interested in pursuing a career in sports.
Brooklyn McDaniels (THF ’17)
Please describe your role.
July will mark my two-year anniversary working at the NFL. I am 1 of 7 recent graduates selected to participate in the 2018 Junior Rotational Program at the League. The program consists of 2 full years rotating through 4 internal departments in our NY, LA, D.C., and London offices for 6 months each. I had the pleasure of kicking off my NFL career in the Event Strategy department where I worked on planning and executing some of the largest annual League-wide events like Draft, Pro Bowl, and Super Bowl LIII. I then moved to my second rotation in the Club Business Development department where my team and I were responsible for serving as internal consultants for all 32 NFL teams and front offices. For my 3rd rotation, I joined the Sponsorship and Partnership Management department where working across strategy, corporate account management and business development. I was fortunate enough to be offered a full-time role in this department, so I exited the rotational program early to continue working at the NFL in a permanent capacity. I am now responsible for managing the day-to-day relationships between the NFL and corporate sponsors such as Anheuser-Busch, Bose, and Gatorade. I am incredibly blessed to be diving into the highest revenue generating department of the League, and be given such unique exposure to America’s leading sports organization so early in my career.
What do you enjoy most about your company?
The people – without question. I was so pleasantly surprised by how kind, and hard-working all the employees at the NFL are. As a 23-year-old entering one of the most powerful sports Leagues in the world, I was extremely intimidated. People immediately gravitated towards me and embraced my personality. I felt heard, included, and respected within my first few days in the office. I have made some of the most phenomenal friends and mentors in my two years of work and I know these relationships will last a lifetime. I have found that if you do your job well, and are always willing to help others, people will not only support you, but also open doors you never imagined walking through.
In what way did this type of work interest you and how did you get started?’
I’ve always had a love for professional sports but had no idea I’d launch my career working in the industry. My focus was always to find a role in entertainment. Before my senior year of college, I was determined to get an entertainment internship. I applied for a role with ABC’s Good Morning America but was rejected due to my lack of production experience. I decided to try my luck with another Walt Disney Company entity. I was fortunate enough to get a role as a business strategy intern in ESPN’s Affiliate Sales and Marketing department and immediately fell in love with the world of sports. After my two months interning with ESPN, I was determined to get back to the sports landscape to begin making a name for myself in the industry. I returned to Ohio State’s campus for my senior year and immediately began researching entry-level sports roles. Upon finding the NFL’s rotational program, my mind was made up that I would do everything in my power to make myself the most ideal and well-prepared candidate for the position. The rest is history.
How has your affiliation with the T. Howard Foundation influenced your career?
T. Howard was absolutely the catalyst and biggest support system I had heading into my first professional internship, and job. Beginning with summer orientation, I was inspired by the unbelievable stories and experiences all the speakers provided for my class. They were incredibly transparent and honest about the difficulties young minorities will face in such a cutthroat industry. All the Final Talent Pool participants were so down to earth and friendly with one another. We immediately clicked and never wanted orientation to end. Fortunately, many of my THF friends ended up moving to NYC for internships and returned full time, so I already had a friend group before packing my bags and moving to the biggest city in the country. Three years later, we still have an active group message and hang out with each other monthly. T. Howard constantly shared opportunities and connected us with THF Alum who worked or interned at the respective companies. Each time I applied to a role, or advanced in an interview process, I would reach out to THF Staff who would send a referral on my behalf. I felt so supported and encouraged throughout my full-time recruitment process. I am so thankful to T. Howard for investing in me and being by my side each step of the way. Even now as an alum, I am intrigued by the incredible opportunities that come through on our newsletter. I feel so blessed to still be asked to return to the Diversity Dinner each year and to share words of advice with the new generation of THF talent. I will continue following and supporting T. Howard for the entirety of my career and beyond, and I look forward to hopefully becoming a mentor for the program one day.
What personal attributes have been essential to your career success?
My personality is representative of a combination of all five of the Cosby children’s’ personas. I identify with Sondra’s intelligence and fearfulness, Denise’s creativity, Theo’s spirit of adventure, Vanessa’s inquisitiveness, and Rudy’s positivity. Although I am an only child, I possess a unique variety of character traits that contribute to my overall psyche. I strive to leave a positive impact on anyone and everyone with whom I come into contact. People often ask why I am always so cheerful, and my response continues to be, that it is simply what makes sense to me.
Each of these attributes have contributed significantly to my accomplishments thus far in life. I am consistently connecting with people wherever I go and making it a priority to sustain key relationships. It’s imperative to make introductions for yourself, remain in contact, and keep people in the know about what’s happening in your professional life. Additionally, it’s critical to always be prepared. You never know when you may meet your next boss or mentor. Ensure that your business cards, resume, and cover letter are always updated and easily accessible.
If you were entering this career today, how would you prepare to facilitate entry?
As a college student preparing to enter the sports industry in 2020, I would complete a plethora of tasks to be most successful. To start, I would research and reach out to people currently working in the landscape of sports. I’d express my interest and come prepared with a list of thoughtful questions to ask each of the people I connect with, specific to their role. I would remain connected with key stakeholders in the business and seek mentorship from those who were most knowledgeable and willing to help. Secondly, I would do a personal search to create a top 10 list of the most important skills necessary to work in particular aspects of sports. I would ensure that the courses I’m taking at my university are complimentary to the work I plan to pursue professionally. Additionally, I would make sure to involve myself and take leadership initiative within extracurricular programs on campus and in the community to strengthen my resume. Finally, I would identify companies and specific roles that I’d be interested in pursuing post-graduation.
Using one sentence, please describe what work/life balance means to you.
Completing work responsibilities using my utmost effort while prioritizing my physical, mental and emotional health.
Are you extroverted or introverted?
I am one of the most extroverted women you will ever meet. I genuinely love meeting and getting to know people of all kinds. I am fueled by social interaction and companionship. While I love being an extrovert, I always make sure I’m taking the time to listen and observe others. I often want to be the first to speak up, but I now know how critical is to use my skills to uplift and encourage others who may not be as comfortable in social settings.
What’s your favorite sport?
I grew up participating in dance, cheerleading, and gymnastics. Gymnastics remains my very favorite sport to this day. I’ve admired the great Dominique Dawes, aka Awesome Dawesome, since I was four years old. It’s been such an amazing journey to witness so many women of color like Gabrielle Douglas, Laurie Hernandez, and Simone Biles take over the Gymnastics industry and defy all odds. My love for gymnastics also stems from how unbelievably difficult it is. It’s the epitome of a challenge, both mentally and physically. The sport instilled so much grace, strength, poise, and determination in me, that I am forever indebted.