Note: The following appears in the May issue of Orange: The Experience. For full access to all of the publication’s content, join IPTAY today by calling 864-656-2115.
By Caitlin Hartley
I began working with Clemson in July as a marketing graduate assistant. Ever since arriving here, I’ve been given so many opportunities in terms of leadership that I hadn’t received before. I became the field coordinator for marketing football, assisted with vice president Joe Biden’s visit to our campus and served as event manager for women’s basketball and volleyball. With all these new opportunities, I knew I wanted to expand my knowledge of leadership within athletics.
A friend of mine who I met at Florida mentioned the NCAA Emerging Leaders Seminar and recommended I apply. I applied in October and found out I was accepted to the program at the end of November. The seminar took place in Indianapolis, Ind., at the NCAA national office from January 25-27. I am so happy I was able to attend because I was able to get some helpful leadership training and network with peers in this industry.
Working in college athletics marketing is something I really love, and this seminar reinforced that for me. After just a few days, I was able to better understand myself and how I can become more effective when working with others. After attending, I have a much better grasp on how to improve the quality of my work in more ways than one.
One immediate takeaway from the conference was how much I actually learned about myself. The people there showed me how to discover my personal values and how I can best align those with my school. I now have so many options because of this learning experience. The opportunity to explore leadership dynamics in athletics from so many different perspectives was fascinating and eye-opening.
Having only attended and worked at a Division I institution, I never really thought about the different benefits or challenges of working at a Division II or Division III institution, and hearing their experiences and their points of view was so helpful, and it makes me want to think of ways I can incorporate these new perspectives into my personal leadership development and ultimately make the most out of time at Clemson.
I was able to step back and take a look at the big picture. It’s much bigger than networking or how many people you give your business card to. It’s not about focusing on the progression of your career. It’s about knowing what your colleagues do and what you can do to work well together. A way to go further in this business is knowing what I need to do to best assist my team and my school. Clemson is such a special place, and whatever I can do to showcase that to the fans is my ultimate goal.
After returning from the conference, I see college athletics in a new light, and I believe I can use this new view to my advantage as I continue working at Clemson and wherever my career takes me. Talented and hardworking people excel the best when they’re all working together. The NCAA leaders taught me that the most important job I have is the one I’m in right now. Leadership is an action, not a position, and in order to progress, I need to do the best in the position I’m in now.
Another takeaway is that I know I’m exactly where I belong. It was very refreshing to be around all these peers who are in the same spot in their careers and love college athletics as much as me. I had such an incredible experience and I’m excited to pay it forward and use it toward benefiting my institution.
I am reassured I’m in the right spot and doing the right things, and the new experiences I learned at the Emerging Leaders Seminar will greatly benefit me as I work towards progressing in my career at Clemson.
June 17, 2021