Want to succeed in the sports industry? This GW alumna has some advice for you

By Nicola Karasik

“I knew what I wanted to do, and I set my mind to that,” said Julia Tesoro, former president of GW’s SBA. Having graduated from GW in 2016 with degrees in both Sports Management and Marketing, Tesoro currently works as a Strategic Marketing Coordinator for the Washington Redskins, a position she’s held since the middle of her senior year. But her journey to the sports industry began even before she attended college.

Originally from just outside of Boston, Tesoro always had a burning passion for sports, but had no real desire to become a professional athlete. Coming from a business family, Tesoro grew a love for marketing from a young age. After turning to her father for advice, she was inspired to combine the two things she loves the most, sports and marketing, into the ultimate dream job that she would someday attain. With this in mind, Tesoro came to GW already knowing she was going to major in Sports Management.

Throughout years of navigating the sports industry, Tesoro has gradually fine-tuned her career path along the way. Today, she shares her bag of tips and tricks as a guide for those going through the same motions she did, not too long ago. Her main takeaway from her time in college is to take full advantage of the plethora of possibilities right at your fingertips: join student organizations and clubs, seek out your school’s athletic department, talk to professors, take courses that you’re interested in and attend networking conferences to meet professionals and executives in the business. Nothing is more important than showing your face in the right places and introducing yourself to the right people.  

For Tesoro, joining a club was the first step in getting her foot in the door. After looking into the SBA her freshman year, she continued as a sophomore, became the VP of Events as a junior, and served as the president of the organization her senior year.

“I just knew that I needed to join a club, and I wanted a club for something that I was passionate about,” Tesoro said. “So, that’s something I definitely took advantage of.”

From here, Tesoro then felt it was necessary to focus on what she specifically wanted to do in sports and figure out what her true passions were. With the sports industry covering so much ground, it’s easy to just say, ‘I want to work in sports.’ But, as Tesoro warns, that’s the last thing employers want to hear. To stand out among the rest of the candidates in the same job pool, hone in on what you really want to do and narrow down your niche. Tesoro notes that while you may not know exactly what you want to do within sports, she advises having a little bit of direction – is it operations, finance, marketing? – goes a long way, and really pays off in the end.

She draws this advice from her own personal experiences as a student at GW. Tesoro first thought she wanted to work in events and game-day operations, so she capitalized on nearby resources and involved herself in GW’s athletic department, becoming the VP of Events for the Colonial Army – the official student fan section for GW’s varsity sports teams. Even though, after a while, she realized that it wasn’t the best fit for her, it was still something that got her in front of the athletic department. But, it was when Tesoro was asked to develop a sponsorship proposal in Lisa Neirotti’s Sports Marketing class that changed the course of her career.

“The second I took that class, I said, ‘Lisa, this is what I want to do. How do I do it,’” Tesoro said.

She saw a golden opportunity and immediately took advantage. With the help of Professor Neirotti, Tesoro was introduced to the right people to help get the ball rolling on the trajectory of her career.

“She understood what I wanted to do because I took her class, and she introduced me to the right people and got me headed in the right direction,” Tesoro said.  

With Neirotti also being the head coordinator of the annual Sports Industry Networking and Career (SINC) conference held at GW, Tesoro essentially killed two birds with one stone, so to speak. Four years ago at SINC during the spring semester of her junior year, Tesoro interviewed with the Redskins and landed a summer internship in their corporate partnerships and marketing department. After continuing to intern there throughout the fall semester of her senior year, the Redskins then offered Tesoro a full-time position in December, where she’s been working ever since.

After gaining valuable experiences all throughout her college years and beyond, Tesoro has picked up skills along the way that are absolutely crucial to succeeding in the sports industry. Here, she underscores three in particular that are most frequently called upon on a daily basis:

  1. Be able to market yourself. You should know who you are and what you can bring to the table. Confidence is key. Not being afraid to put your name out there, to say an awesome idea that you think is great but might get shot down, that’s what you have to be willing to do.

  2. Understand that it’s a fast-paced environment. You might have a project to do that’s going to take you four hours to complete but needs to be done in one hour. No one day is the same. You’re probably going to be doing things that you didn’t plan on doing that day, and you have to be able to adjust accordingly.

  3. Be able to work with people. You should be prepared for working with all different types of people who prefer things to be done in different ways. Some may only like to communicate via email, and others will want to talk face-to-face. Part of juggling different personalities also involves a great degree of time management and figuring out what gets prioritized.

All in all, if you truly want to break into sports, you have to be willing to fall and get back up again. You must have a drive within you that won’t quit when the going gets tough. To Tesoro, getting to where you want to end up requires putting yourself out there and getting recognized. If you take advantage of the opportunities that cross your path, it will get you much closer to achieving your goals. 


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