Alumni Spotlight: Justin Rogers

 

Screen Shot 2017-04-05 at 11.14.53 AMCurrent Role:  Sun Devil Athletics Marketing Coordinator

Graduation: Sport Administration, 2015

Current Residence: Phoenix, AZ

Email: JustinRogers@asu.edu

Q: Where did you earn your undergraduate degree and what did you major in?

A: I received my undergraduate degree from Oklahoma State University. I was a double major in Multimedia Journalism and Sports Media.

Q: What attracted you to Xavier’s grad program?

A: I’d been knocking on the door of college athletics for some time but with no direct experience, no one was willing to give me a chance. I needed something that was going to help me stand out. Something that was going to help guide me in the right direction and potentially open a door. I viewed the grad program as that something. If nothing else, I knew it would be a great learning experience and a chance to network.

Q: How did you balance working full time with the Boys and Girls club while doing grad school?

A: Initially, the time commitment wasn’t an issue. I kept it manageable by only taking two classes per semester. I’d work until 5 p.m. and then head to class two nights per week. I’d use my remaining weeknights for studying and homework, and I’d have my weekends to myself. Not having a wife or kids certainly helped. It was probably pretty similar to being a full-time undergrad student and having a part-time job. What worked in my favor, however, is that I had an employer who understood what I was looking to accomplish and allowed me to flex my schedule if needed. They supported the pursuit of my degree and encouraged me to do what I needed to do as long as it didn’t affect my job performance. When the internship was added to the equation, that was a different ball game. We’re talking about a full-time job, part-time grad school and a part-time internship. As you could imagine, the time commitment was intense. And in any situation like that, sacrifices must be made. That’s when I said goodbye to my social life. I just didn’t have time for it. I needed to make a living, and I wanted to do well in my courses and internship to ensure that I could make a living in the future. I tightened my circle and hoped that people would understand. I just kept telling myself that it’s temporary and kept what I was working toward at the forefront of my mind. At the end of it all, it was one of the most gratifying feelings I will ever know in that I was able to maintain everything at a high level and set myself up for something that would soon pay off.

Q: Tell us about your process of getting the job at ASU.

A: The process in getting to ASU essentially started in the latter months of time at Xavier. Basketball season was over and I still needed hours to fulfill the requirements of my internship. That’s when I was asked if I wanted to work baseball. My goal entering the internship was to touch and see as much as possible. I had already worked volleyball and men’s and women’s basketball, so why not give baseball a shot. Mind you, at this point, I’d never been a huge fan of the game, nor did I know that much about it. I could tell you the basic rules and positions but if you asked me to score the game in a scorebook, I would’ve been lost. So, I got my introduction to baseball at Xavier doing similar promotions as the other sports, but this time I was working the music computer and keeping track of baseball bingo. I completed my internship at Xavier by working the remaining baseball games and began looking for a job. By the way, Patrick Dillon is a great resource if you need help with your resume. He’ll review it for you and provide suggestions to help it stand out. That was very a valuable resource in getting my next job. I applied to many, many, many jobs but came up empty in my search. The process was very demoralizing to say the least. Not to mention I passed up applying for a part-time job with Xavier Athletics in seek of full-time employment. Needless to say, I was kicking myself at that point as I thought I let an opportunity pass me by. But there was no guarantee that I would’ve gotten the job, plus I was fortunate that I didn’t have to find a new job right away because I was still employed at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Cincinnati. Then, I came across a full-time internship at Wright State University. I applied for it and received an interview. They were impressed with my resume and the experience I was able to gather during my internship with Xavier. It also helped that Patrick was one of my references and he knew the person with whom I was interviewing. I worked it out with BGCGC to flex my schedule to make the internship work but in the end, I decided against it because the drive multiple times per week would’ve just been too taxing. So, I went back to drawing board and kept applying for jobs as they came available. As fate would have it, the person whom I was interviewing with at Wright State had just accepted a job at Northern Kentucky University. A 10-minute drive from my apartment. I reached out to him and he agreed to bring me on as a part-time intern working all games and office hours. However, I was more than your typical intern because he decided to put me in charge of two spring sports. One of them being baseball. Since I had experience working baseball at Xavier he thought it’d be a great fit. I wasn’t about to disagree because this was a great opportunity for me to show what I had, even if I wasn’t too keen on the sport. Leading up to the start of baseball season, a full-time Marketing Coordinator position opened up at Wright State. I was encouraged to apply and I had a great connection so I was more likely to get an interview. So, I applied, interviewed and was ultimately offered the job. But, alas, I turned it down. It was a very tough decision as I had been working for 4 years to break into the industry. There it was, staring me right in the face. But the money wasn’t right and the work environment reportedly wasn’t the best. In my mind, I already had a great opportunity in front of me to gain some very valuable experience at NKU. Yes, I would have to continue to work what amounted to two full-time jobs, but I’ve waited this long so I can afford to wait a little bit longer for the right offer. It was a big gamble because there was no guarantee that another offer would come. I just had to have faith in the process and continue on the path. I worked my butt off during the baseball season and received praise from the AD and the head coach on the job I’d done. I was back in an all too familiar position of searching for a job, but this time I was armed with more valuable experience and another year under my belt. I again applied for many, many, many jobs. However, this time I was generating more buzz. I received multiple interviews but no offers. The ASU job appeared on the NCAA job board and I applied. I honestly didn’t think much of it as I didn’t hear back from them for two months. I received an email asking if I was interested. An email turned into a phone interview, a phone interview turned into a flight for an in-person interview, and that ultimately turned into a job offer. The most ironic thing of it all is my experience with baseball is what attracted them the most. Now, I’m here at ASU tasked with what sport? You guessed it, baseball! And it all started at Xavier because I needed more internship hours.

Q: Describe your role and your daily responsibilities.

A: My role here is a little bit different than what I was used to in my two previous stops. At NKU, and even XU to an extent, I was used to handling all things marketing from A to Z. From email marketing, rewards apps, mobile alerts, social media, promotions, graphic design, game presentation, etc. I handled every aspect of that around baseball and softball at NKU. Here at ASU, I’m strictly marketing for baseball. That includes, CRM, email and database marketing, social media, promotions and advertisement. We have a separate person who handles game presentation and sponsorship fulfillment. We also have an entirely separate department that handles our graphic design. Apparently, this setup is pretty common at power-five institutions. I wasn’t sure how to handle it initially because of what I experienced in the past, but honestly it balances out the time commitment for everyone so that we’re all not overly stressed. It’s a big university with big sports programs, and having one person in charge of all aspects of a single sport could be a bit overwhelming. At least with the larger sports anyway. ASU is rare in that it has three revenue-generating sports with baseball being added to football and men’s basketball. I’m also in charge of email marketing for half of our sports. I proof every piece of content that is sent on the athletic department’s behalf and I build every email that is sent as well. Apparently, I was identified early in the process for the email role because another thing that ASU liked while interviewing me was my journalism degree. My bachelor’s degree was actually an afterthought for me, but it just goes to show that you never know which of your skills an employer will find useful.

Q: What internships helped you get your foot in the door and how crucial is that for a college student?

A: The internship with Xavier Athletics in the marketing department working under Patrick Dillon was the one that helped me break into the industry. Internships are extremely crucial because they allow you to display your work ethic and show your true desire to work in industry. They also allow you to meet people who can potentially help you along in your journey as you continue to grow and progress in the industry.

Q: Any advice for Xavier students aspiring to work in the sports industry?

A:  This is always a tough one for me to answer because my path into the industry was so different than what most will travel.

  • I guess I’ll start by encouraging everyone to do their research. High school is different from college, and college is different from professional. Yes, they all have their similarities but they’re all very different in their operation. There are also several different departments that come together to make an event happen. Find out which one works best for you. Everyone says they want to work in sports, but you may be happier in sponsorship than you would be in compliance. An internship is the best way to test the waters.
  • Once you’ve found your potential fit, hone your craft. Specialize in that area. Read and study as much as you can about your area of interest. Take classes specifically dedicated to it. Find an internship. If you can’t find an internship, volunteer. Be personable and talk to as many people as you can in that concentration. People generally like to talk about their journey and how they got where they are today. Ask and take notes. You may be able to draw some similarities and inspiration. Ask for advice and take the advice to heart. They’ve been where you want to go and they will likely tell you some things that are true about the industry that you won’t find in a book.
  • Work your butt off. Show a willingness to contribute and do a great job when you are given a task. That will develop trust and lead to bigger tasks. In turn, they’ll be more likely to help you out down the line should an opportunity open up.
  • Set a goal and stay the course. It can be a discouraging journey, but if it’s really what you want to do, then it will happen for you in time. As cliché as it sounds, hard work and perseverance is the key.
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