For the first five years of my career, I felt I needed to play the “man’s game” and bury my feminine side to get ahead in my career. I watched SportsCenter every morning to surprise colleagues with my statistical knowledge, learned how to play golf so that I never missed a “meeting,” and drank beer while yelling at the bar TV during big games (no matter who was playing).
Even with all the effort to fit in, I continued to get overlooked for new projects. I realize now that I was the one not allowing myself to be great. I was focusing so much on what the men thought and on playing their game that I wasn’t spending enough time focusing on what I was actually passionate about, on evolving my skill set and on growing my career.
Facing a lack of opportunity, I decided to move from Cleveland to Chicago with the hope of advancing my career in corporate sponsorship activation. That was a great first step; however, once I got to the city, I had no idea what to do next. Enter WISE Chicago. I joined through a former colleague, and from the first event, I felt a real sense of support and interest in my career from all WISE members. I found a group that allowed me to be myself and focus on finding the right path for me. Each and every time I attended a WISE event or program, I was amazed by how these hardworking, extremely busy women were able to make the time to care for one another and build a network of colleagues turned great friends.
The WISE Within mentoring program was the icing on the cake for me. My mentor showed me how to become a proud, confident woman in the industry. With my mentor’s guidance, I discovered that my passion is building unique corporate partnership opportunities — not simply sports marketing — and with her help, I learned to use my feminine side, instead of hiding it away, to succeed. I also had the unique circumstance of being laid off during the mentoring program. I wouldn’t have had the courage to keep trying to find my dream job without the support of the mentors and other mentees.
A year later, I am pleased to have found a dream career in the sales services unit at SmithBucklin, where I secure sponsorships and exhibit spaces for professional associations, as well as consult with educational and not-for-profit organizations to help them build long-lasting, mutually beneficial corporate partnership programs.
I am so excited to begin this next chapter of my career, and I want to thank WISE Chicago — and the women who work tirelessly to make it a success — for its support, educational programs and networking events. I owe my place as a woman in sports and events to you and look forward to providing the same support to the next generation by being actively involved with WISE Chicago for years to come.