CalTimes/CUTV Exclusive Series: WHERE ARE THEY NOW?

Jess Crosson, '18, steps up to home plate to work with the Pittsburgh Pirates

Mia Hamm, Derek Jeter, and Geno Auriemma are all icons in the world of sports that made me want to be an athlete when I was younger and have continued to be role models to me to this day. Throughout my childhood I tried out all of the typical youth sports – soccer, basketball, softball, and track. Once I moved into high-school I realized I truly loved soccer and stuck with just playing just that but my appreciation for all sports continued to grow as I would attend my high school’s Friday night football games and various basketball and baseball games throughout their respective seasons.

Fast-forward to my years at Cal U, I continued to attend and enjoy our various sporting events but shifted my main focus on developing skills I could use in my future career. My freshman year, I was all over the board with what clubs I wanted to join and what careers I would be interested in pursuing; but I knew I had enjoyed certain organizations in high school and was looking to get involved with similar organizations at Cal U. I had reached out to the then current Cal Times Editor-in-Chief, Jose Negron, via Twitter after seeing the Cal Times was looking for new writers. During my first week at Cal U, I navigated my way through the still under construction Natali to find my way to the Media Suite to meet the people who would end up having a pretty big impact on my time at Cal U.

My first semester writing for the paper started off slow. I was still trying to find my way and became really involved with our campus’ Student Activities Board so I wasn’t able to pick up as many stories as I had hoped. The following semester I had become super involved with the Cal Times and by the end of the year I was offered the Entertainment Editor position and working for the Times also became my work-study position for my remaining time at Cal U. The Cal Times provided me with numerous opportunities to develop not only as a writer but as a photographer, broadcaster, and leader.

Following my sophomore year, I was able to complete my first internship with the Harrisburg City Islanders – a professional soccer team within the United Soccer League (USL). It was this internship that set my mind on a clear path and I knew I wanted to work in the sport industry once I graduated from Cal U. I was able to manage all of the Islanders social media platforms, write press releases for the team, and then thanks to my acting minor – they asked me to be their official Sideline Reports as well. The Islanders gave me my first taste of broadcasting which led me to start to work with our CUTV crew. I had only joined Steve Ruffing up in the booth to call one soccer game that fall but I ended up accepting a position to join the Islanders again next season with their newly re-branded team, Penn FC, as their Sideline Reporter and Special Events Manager.

Going into my senior semester I felt a lot of emotions as I was trying to figure out what exactly I wanted to do in the sport industry and what I could do to set myself apart from all of the other December graduates. Thankfully I was awarded a handful of opportunities to top off my time at Cal U! First, Jeff Helsel and Gary Smith gave me the opportunity to join Danny Beeck, Steve Ruffing, and Colin Kirkwood as a News Anchor on CUTV’s bi-weekly broadcast. After that, I accepted a Community Relations position with the Pittsburgh Steelers. My time with the Steelers was a dream come true. It was an incredible experience that opened my eyes to a new area within the sport industry I could be passionate about.

As the semester drew to an end, I felt confident in everything I had done within my 3.5 years at Cal U. I couldn’t tell you how many jobs I applied for and how many teams passed up on me. Just a few weeks after graduation, I found myself looking at two opportunities to choose between. I had to decide whether to take a post-grad full-time internship with the Washington Nationals’ Community Relations department or a Sales Associate position with the Pittsburgh Pirates. I had absolutely no experience in sales and I was very skeptical about the position as a whole but ultimately it seemed like the best choice for me in the moment.

I’ve been with the Pittsburgh Pirates for nine months now and I love what I am doing. It is a grind every single day to find new ways to bring fans to PNC Park and create the best experiences we can to make them want to come back again.

My best advice is to gain as much experience in a wide variety of areas that interest you because it is just going to make you a more well-rounded and educated candidate. Your first position doesn’t have to be your only position once you graduate so don’t be afraid to take a chance on something you aren’t completely sure about! If you put in the work, it is going to pay off. You just have to be patient and willing to wait for it.