By Nicola Karasik
Are you thinking of switching career paths but afraid you won’t be able to catch up? Don’t worry, it’s not too late! Meet Tara Rosenberg. She never thought she would end up becoming an account executive in membership services for the Washington Nationals, considering where she started, but she didn’t back down from the daunting challenge of completely changing her profession.
Originally from north New Jersey, Rosenberg graduated from GW in 2014 with a B.S. in physical therapy. Growing up as a competitive gymnast, Rosenberg wanted to incorporate her active lifestyle into her future as well, continuing to compete in the sport throughout her college years. Taking the medical route as an aspiring professional, she applied to PT school, but was dumbfounded when she didn’t get in. After retaking all the required prerequisites in biology, anatomy, physics and statistics, Rosenberg applied for a second time, but it still didn’t work out for her.
She then had to take a step back and asked herself, ‘What’s next?’ Rosenberg narrowed down what she liked about the PT field: being exposed to the athlete-side and having the chance to be physical and active. But because it didn’t work out exactly the way she had planned, she had to recalibrate the advancement of her career. At this fork in the road, Rosenberg decided to gear toward the business side of the industry and started the Sports Management graduate program at GW.
“No path is the same, and I’m a perfect example of that,” Rosenberg said. “It’s really never too late. I was nervous to completely switch my career at age 24, even though it’s still young. I spent a lot of money and hours on one career path and switching is a big deal. But it’s definitely never too late.”
After choosing to redirect the course of her professional development, Rosenberg figured she had a lot of learning to do since her whole background was in science. To do this, she tried to gain as much knowledge as she could in the year-and-a-half-long master’s program, striving to catch up as quickly as she could.
“I grasped every opportunity I could in the program, which included going to Rio with Professor Neirotti for the Olympics, as well as going to California with Professor Hyman for another program there,” Rosenberg said.
She took full advantage of the program and networked with its professors to build up her resume, and luckily got an internship with the Nationals her second semester, which lasted the entirety of the 2016 MLB season.
“I had zero background in the sports industry before grad school,” Rosenberg said. “I took that internship, which was mainly for networking and building relationships, but it really paid off since they ended up hiring me for a full-time role.”
After the season ended, she finished up her graduate degree, and then spent about seven months applying to jobs. The Nationals eventually hired her as a part-time inside service representative in August of 2017, and, just a few months ago, she was promoted to a full-time role in membership services as an account executive.
“I think I’m at a good start, showing that I’m staying with the same organization, going from intern to part-time role, and now, finally, a full-time role,” Rosenberg said.
The biggest adversity Rosenberg faced while in the process of switching careers was having to explain her science background in job interviews. A lot of times they would be curious as to why her entire resume was filled with hundreds of hours volunteering at a hospital when she was applying to a job at a baseball stadium. But, as Rosenberg advises, it’s understandable that people switch career paths at any age. As long as you know how to relate your past experiences to what you want to do now, you’ll be okay.
“Customer service is what I’m doing now,” Rosenberg said. “I would convince interviewers that, because I used to work with patients, and patients were probably the hardest customers you can deal with because they’re already in a bad mood and they actually do have something wrong with them, I could handle people complaining that maybe their seat in a stadium isn’t as close to home plate as they wanted. That really puts things in perspective. Once you explain yourself in an interview, they’ll understand.”
Rosenberg’s main token of advice is to keep an open mind. No matter if you’re starting out in a role that maybe isn’t exactly what you want to do, or if your path veers off in a direction you hadn’t foreseen, be open to any possibility. You never know where it might take you.