Caitlin H. is an Event Marketing Intern at ESPN. Working on the ESPYS, the X Games, and movie premieres are just a few of the perks that come along with her position.
For die-hard sports fans and people who simply love working for awesome companies, an internship at ESPN is The Dream. Each season, thousands of young hopefuls apply for a (very) limited number of spots at its worldwide headquarters. Less than 60 are hired for paid internships, putting the probable acceptance rate at or below 1%.
Caitlin H. is currently interning at ESPN in New York City, and her journey included stints at the Disney College Program and the Walt Disney Company. She absolutely loves her current position in the Event Marketing Department, crediting ESPN’s warm, supportive culture and enjoyable work environment.
“It’s not who you know,” Caitlin says, referring to how she landed the internship, “it’s who knows you.” It all happened for her when ESPN’s Marketing Coordinator, Chris Sidnam, forwarded her name to HR after she sent him an email introducing herself and asking for a quick phone call. This call came after tireless networking efforts where Caitlin reached out to professionals in order to parlay her relevant work experiences into a new position. This is why she believes that the individuals who know your name and can attest to your skills are more important than the names you have in your contacts.
We caught up with Caitlin after she wrapped up her workday, and discussed everything from Nashville to New York bagels – and, of course, the Entertainment and Sports Programming Network.
1. What is your background?
I’m from the town of Sea Cliff, in Long Island, New York. I grew up going to Islanders, Knicks and Mets/Yankees games. [In college], I was a communications major, so I knew I wanted to work in media and entertainment. I researched what the best companies were and Disney was routinely at the top of many lists. The Walt Disney Company is the parent company of ESPN, where I now work in the Event Marketing Division.
2. What was your high school experience like?
I went to a small high school where I played soccer and ran track. I loved being involved in an array of activities, and I was also yearbook editor senior year and on our school’s robotics team.
3. What steps did you take to prepare for your ESPN internship?
I attended SUNY Geneseo and was accepted into the Disney College Program, where you go down [to Florida] for a semester, work in the parks and take classes. I learned a ton! From there, I applied for a Disney Professional Internship, and I interned with Global Comps Ticketing Services, which included a lot of coding and computer work.
A couple months in, I realized I didn’t want to be in Florida anymore. I really missed my family and friends and pizza and bagels. (When you’re a New Yorker, nothing compares!) However, I knew I really wanted to work for Disney, so I started networking a ton. I used Rostr [an internal site for Disney employees] and LinkedIn, and one of the people I reached out to for an informational interview was Chris Sidnam, who works in event marketing for ESPN. Luckily, he took a chance and gave me a phone call. When their team was looking for an intern, he thought of me, and then HR contacted me!
4. What does a day in your life look like?
I love how every day is different! Being an intern under the ESPN Event Marketing team, I work on prepping for events such as The ESPYs, The X Games and College Football. Event marketing can range from counting post party ESPY ticket lanyards, to designing centerpieces, to planning VIP itineraries. It’s a team effort and enables me to be creative, so I’m very happy here.
5. What was the highlight of your internship experience so far?
Our internship program is designed really well; we have a speaker series every week and many support systems in place, including mentors! This program is based around inclusion and having all intern’s voices heard. They also recommend meeting with professionals throughout the company to learn and grow personally and professionally. Those meetings with others in different departments are a huge aspect of the culture surrounding Disney. One highlight so far has been a site visit for an ESPN movie premiere, in Brooklyn, that our team is working on. That was my real first taste of professional, corporate event planning and marketing and it really gave me a great idea of how planning for an event is kicked off!
6. What are some things you’re excited about right now?
I’m super excited to be traveling to LA this summer with my team to work at, and attend the ESPYs! Our internship class is also taking field trips to the ESPN headquarters in Bristol as well as to the Marvel and Broadway offices. We are exposed to so many different teams and roles, and it has been an amazing learning experience.
7. What is one piece of advice you would give to those aspiring for success?
My favorite piece of advice is to bloom where you are planted. Even when you’re somewhere and you don’t think it can help you, every experience is something you can learn and grow from. Career paths are less like ladders and more like jungle gyms. It’s not always a straight path to your goals and that’s okay.
8. If you could tell your younger self anything, what would it be?
Worry less, and relax because it’s all going to work out. Towards the end of my internship at Disney, I was on the phone with my mom, worrying about the future. The next day HR was talking to me on the phone. It all happens, you just have to have some faith, trust and pixie dust.
Some facts about Caitlin:
- Her favorite ice cream flavor is “chocolate!”
- She started tap dancing when she was 3 years old.
- If she could travel anywhere right now, she would go to “Nashville.”
- She is a big fan of the “New York Knicks.”
- Some of her role models include “Bob Iger and Sheryl Sandberg.”
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
Cover photo captured by Adelle Goldenberg for The Glam Salad ©