Communication Arts senior, Christina Barahona, has always known that she wanted to work in sports, but it took a Communication Arts directed study project to turn her dream into a reality. Barahona was looking for a way to combine her two passions – sports and communication – and start preparing for a career, so she started applying for communication-related positions with various sports teams around the USA. She found an excellent position working with the American professional soccer club, FC Dallas in the public relations and marketing department.
Immediately after accepting the opportunity, Barahona contacted Communication Arts department chair, Joann Brown, to discuss how she could turn the experience into a research opportunity through a directed-independent study focusing on the team’s social media engagement. Communication Arts instructor, Tom Meade offered to be her advisor for the directed research project. Barahona and Meade held regular meetings online using Adobe Connect and they worked together to prepare the research proposal and develop the literature review for the final project.
Meade commented on his student: “I’ve had Christina for a few classes and she always stood out. It was obvious that she would be an outstanding employee, so I was not surprised to hear that she got an amazing internship with major league soccer’s F.C. Dallas.”
For five months, Barahona worked closely with her department to conduct research on the widespread use of social media by professional sports teams and create an analysis of which social media platforms were and would be most effective for FC Dallas. Barahona monitored and researched the team’s use of social media and delivered a comprehensive report, which is currently being used by the team to increase their social media presence. Meade bragged about his student’s work: “Using her knowledge of communication, Christina created a study revolving around social media use by and among fans of F.C. Dallas. Her findings may help the team strategize their social media marketing campaigns, which could lead to a stronger brand in the future. Her research is clearly of great value to their organization.”
In addition to the research component, Barahona worked with the public relations department writing press releases, finding media clips, managing media contacts, transcribing press conferences, coordinating appearances, and holding player interviews. Through her position with FC Dallas, she has been exposed to all of the different facets of professional sports, made some great professional contacts, and had the chance to meet and get to know the soccer players.
In addition to being a transformational experience, the research project has opened many doors for Barahona. After four interviews and weeks of waiting, Barahona got the call and was recently offered an outstanding opportunity to work with New York City’s Madison Square Garden, one of the top facilities in the country for sports and entertainment events. “When I read the email asking me to come for an interview, I was jumping for joy! I booked the next flight to New York, and my interview went great! I was offered the position the same day. I am happy to say that I will now be working for Madison Square Garden, one of the best organizations in the country,” she explained.
Barahona’s dream to work for the Garden began two years ago. She pursued her goal, but the timing never worked out. She had several phone interviews with the team from MSG last year, but it took another year to land her dream job. The experience with FC Dallas made her a much better candidate this year and she got the job offer. Barahona advises Communication Arts students who are applying for internships and jobs to be persistent: “Never give up on your dreams and goals, for you are the only one who can turn them into reality.” She will be moving to New York to begin her new opportunity in a few weeks.