For Sara Patterson ‘16, ’19 MBA, every day is game day. When she is not working in digital media at the National Football League headquarters in New York City, the Johnson & Wales University alumnus is pursuing her MBA through the JWU College of Online Education.
Sara credits her undergraduate experience at the Providence Campus as instrumental in her career success—while she was earning her BS – Sports, Entertainment, Event – Management degree, she also interned for the New England Patriots.
Here, she shares what it’s like to work in professional sports and her tips on navigating the online classroom.
What is your degree program and what inspired you to choose this path of study?
I am currently in the MBA online program, and the main reason I chose this path is because, although my undergraduate was in sports management, I realized there was something missing. I felt that I needed to learn more about the business world and apply those practices to sports rather than the other way around. Getting my master’s degree was something that I always said I was going to do, and this winter I finally took the plunge.
Can you describe what it’s like to work for such a prestigious professional sports league? Was it always your goal to work for the NFL?
Currently, I work for the National Football League in Digital Media, Pricing & Inventory. I assist in all digital sales operations from NFL.com, NFL Mobile & Fantasy App. Each day I work with media agencies to ensure that our corporate partners and sponsors execute their digital campaigns properly. Basically, when you look on NFL.com or NFL Mobile properties and you see advertisements or sponsors, that's my department!
Every day that I walk in the NFL office, I feel very grateful to have landed here right after college. It was always a goal to work at any of the major leagues, but I never could've imagined that it would've happened this fast.
Can you share a behind-the-scenes moment about working there?
One of the best experiences I have had so far was working Super Bowl LI in Houston. About six months into my job I found myself on a plane to work for 11 days in the NFL Events Department. Being able to assist in taking Mr. Kraft on the field after the Patriots win was an experience of a lifetime!
Also being able to be backstage at the 2017 NFL Draft, watching players pick up the phone and have their dreams come true right in front of me, will be something I will never forget.
How did your undergraduate experience at JWU prepare you for your current career?
I think one of the ways that JWU prepared me for my career was the emphasis and the importance on internships and working outside of the classroom. Professors were always understanding of the fact that I worked on campus, as well as part-time for the New England Patriots, and if I missed class it was for viable work experience. I always felt that while schoolwork was important and always got done, it was never the only focus.
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Why did you choose JWU Online for your graduate degree?
I chose JWU Online for my graduate degree because I did not want to have to leave my job to go back to school. I wanted to be able to balance both, even though I knew it would be a challenge week to week. I felt that I had worked really hard to make it here, and I didn't want to have to leave and miss out on this opportunity to sit in a classroom. The online program give me the best of both worlds.
What advice would you give to someone who is considering online learning at JWU?
The advice I would give is to start slow. Learning in the online format and getting into a routine with a full-time job can be a challenge and a large adjustment. I find that the hardest part is after sitting all day at my desk and on my computer, I have to then go home and do it for a couple more hours. Therefore, being kind to yourself and not rushing into this large commitment will, I think, in turn make each class more of a success.