The Life Skills team offers programming and advice from alumni about topics such nutrition, transitioning to life after Hamilton, and much more.
Life Skills Blog
Pursuing Your Passion: A Career in the Sports Industry
By Justin Brown '14
May 31, 2021
Tags Life Skills
Like many kids growing up, I loved playing sports. Some of my fondest memories and closest friends came from these experiences; my travel soccer team in grade school to my middle school baseball career, culminating with a sectional basketball championship in high school. While it became apparent that I was not going to be playing a sport myself professionally, my experiences at Hamilton showed me I could still turn my passion for sports into a career.
I got my start working in sports right on the Hill, as manager of the women’s basketball team from 2010-2014. Even though I was no longer playing on the court myself, I quickly realized how much I enjoyed working behind the scenes, being a part of the team, and being involved in the sport in a new way. The passion was still there for the 6 a.m. practices and the 8-hour bus rides, which is when I first started to think to myself: “Hey … I still love this, maybe I should consider sports as a career!”
One of the advantages of going to Hamilton is access to a tremendous alumni network, which in my experience was always willing to talk to me as a student and give great advice. This extends to the sports industry specifically, where there are many alumni with successful careers across all different levels and leagues. The first step in figuring out my path to working in sports was to connect with as many of these industry alumni as I could, which proved invaluable. It gave me a better understanding of the industry and how I might look to get my start. For any current students or recent graduates, this is the best piece of advice I could give. If you’re interested in a career path like mine, start with me!
After graduating from Hamilton in 2014, I jumped right into a year-long master’s program at Syracuse University in sport venue and event management. For me this was the right choice, as it gave me the opportunity to build my resume and dive deeper into the industry. It is certainly not a necessary step, or even one I would recommend to everyone, but in conjunction with my liberal arts education at Hamilton, it prepared me for the career I wanted to pursue.
After a variety of coursework and multiple internships, I attended a job fair in Cleveland, Ohio. Here, I was fortunate enough to interview with and receive offers from several professional sports organizations, including the Boston Celtics who offered me an entry-level role on their sales team.
So, in 2015, I packed up and moved to Boston, excited to make the most of the opportunity to work in sports full-time. After leading the inside sales team in revenue generated my first season, I was promoted in six months, then promoted again in early 2017 to my current role as account executive. I really enjoy my work for the Celtics as it provides many of those same elements that appealed to me as an athlete, such as teamwork, comradery, and working towards the common goal of running a successful organization and raising an 18th banner.
Obviously, COVID-19 greatly impacted working for and selling a brand whose main product is a live event. It was certainly unexpected for us to lose the core aspect of our business that we take for granted. It has challenged us as an organization, and my department specifically, to think and operate differently and pursue unique new ways to drive revenue. I’ve personally had the opportunity to learn new skills and have been given new leadership responsibilities that will play a significant role in my career going forward, and for that I feel quite fortunate. As we prepare to welcome fans back to TD Garden, and the world eventually gets back to normal, I’d challenge all of us to reflect on this unprecedented time in our lives and how we can grow from it.