One of my biggest frustrations this semester was figuring out what an ideal occupation for me looked like, and if it was feasible with today’s market. (I know this sounds like a first world problem because my life must be pretty good, if not knowing what job I want to do is my biggest issue, but that fact doesn’t make me feel better).

On one side, (for the pro follow your passion side) I knew I loved sports if I wasn’t playing it myself I loved watching it, I loved getting into heated debates of why a player should’ve moved teams or even talking about game strategy. I knew if I was given the opportunity to work with the type of people also into sports I would thrive and fit right in.

On the flip side, (for the cons of following your passion and just getting a stable job instead) I also loved my major, I loved optimization. I learned so much about myself as a Supply Chain management intern this summer with Halliburton, and though it may not matter to other people, I felt like my parents were more proud of me when I did engineering work. Plus, the engineering job pays well (referring to the People Page- Mark Wohl), I would barely be making half the salary of my engineering job if I took an entry-level job in the sports industry.

With those pros and cons laid out I really didn’t know how to weigh each point for each side.

Meanwhile in my life there was a fork in the road, much smaller in magnitude than choosing my first job, but I had to decide if I wanted to run for President for the Institute of Industrial Engineers and take that time commitment or (given the opportunity) interview and take an offer to be a statistics intern with NCAA. I knew I couldn’t handle both.

 

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This is the job description that the NCAA provided as they asked for applicants

I spoke to a trusted staff member in the School of Industrial Engineering, Dave Kotterman about this, and since he had worked with me all last summer with organizing  the annual fall career fair for the school of IE, so he was familiar with my work ethic and personality, and he knew he could tell it to me straight.

He encouraged me to take the NCAA position (if offered to me) because work experience is more important than leadership experiences of clubs in college to the eyes of future employers. He also offered to write me a recommendation letter for my application to the NCAA internship.

 

Again, since Mr. Kotterman was someone I revered I started the application process. I wrote my cover letter that weekend for the NCAA application, updated and got my resume read over by the employees in our Center of Career Opportunities (CCO), and asked Mr. Kotterman, Dr. Nateghi (read about her in the people section), and Marcia Iles (the secretary of the Purdue Athletics office) to submit my recommendation letter at least three days before the deadline.

Interestingly, this was my first time writing a cover letter for a job so this is how I tried to sell myself:

October 28, 2016


J.D. Hamilton
Assistant Director, Media Coordination and Statistics, Marketing and Broadcast Alliances
w: 317-917-6124 | c: 317-287-9688 | ncaa.org
P.O. Box 6222, Indianapolis, IN 46206-6222

Dear Mr. J.D. Hamilton,

As the current Game Day Experience Hostess, and a statistics and communications intern for the Purdue Athletics department, I’ve always sought opportunities to combine my passion for sports with the skills I’ve learned through my education. I am a junior at Purdue University, currently pursuing an Industrial Engineering major and statistics minor. The NCAA has always been integral to helping me understand more about the teams I follow; I would like to become part of the NCAA team that fosters communication between the sports fans and the teams. This is why I am applying to the NCAA 2017 Winter/Spring NCAA Media Coordination and Statistics Internship Opportunity.

Sports to me is more than just a form of entertainment, it is a way of bringing people together as they make connections either rooting same team or analyzing the plays of the teams to determine the better one. As the Game Day Experience Hostess, my goal is to share my passion of sports by not only explaining to our guests how the statistics in the press box is generated, but also make clarifying remarks on any sports statistics our guests may have about the live football game every quarter. In addition, in the Purdue Athletic Communications office, I have executed many projects such as updating the baseball team’s schedule online, organizing miscellaneous clips by naming plays and writing game notes for the volleyball team.

The most interesting project I’ve been given in the office is improving the ergonomics of the media and statisticians seating area on the Keady Court in the Mackey Arena. I was able to find the optimal placement of the reference placard relative to the user’s line of vision, and complete the task by using my engineering work analysis and design knowledge. With my educational background as an engineering major, I am also able to utilize various languages of code to generate sports statistics such as R, SAS, and Minitab for the NCAA office. My critical thinking skills, also developed from being a Purdue engineer, will enable me to interpret and clearly communicate the statistics that the NCAA wants to publicize.

I am excited about how my passion for sports statistics and work experience in the athletic office aligns with your NCAA 2017 Winter/Spring NCAA Media Coordination and Statistics Internship Opportunity. Thank you for considering my candidacy and I welcome an interview. If you need to reach me, my email is yuan121@purdue.edu.

Sincerely,

Pamela Yuan

Here was the resume I submitted as well:

YUANPAMELA_FALL2016RESUME

After I had confirmed that all the required materials were submitted, I just waited in anticipation. Sometimes my friends in IISE would ask me if I was considering running for President and I always gave them a vague answer because I really wasn’t sure if I could step up to the plate if I had this responsibility.

As the day of the elections got closer, I eagerly emailed the NCAA Coordinator hoping to get some sort of clarification, but I never got a reply. IISE Elections were the Wednesday before Thanksgiving break, no one else was willing to take the torch after out President Tony, so I felt responsible, since the organization meant a lot to me and I couldn’t watch it fall into pieces if I could help it.

This move made me quite nervous because given this new position as president, and assuming I also received an offer from NCAA, I would have to commuting to Indianapolis for at least 10 hours a week to work, on top of being an engineering student at Purdue, and the President of the largest Industrial Engineering chapter in the nation. 

However, sometimes life helps you make decisions. It was the Tuesday of Thanksgiving break, my boyfriend Scott and I played hooky for that whole week even though Thanksgiving break at Purdue started on Wednesday (the day before Thanksgiving). My little brother, Philip was driving us back from the mall, and I finally saw a response from the NCAA in my inbox while I was on my phone on the passenger side of the car.

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A rejection email from the NCAA

At first I didn’t know what to think, whether to be relieved that I averted the smaller crisis of not being overwhelmed next semester, or if I just now gotten myself into a bigger crisis. The bigger crisis being  to figure out if I had already reached my potential in the sports industry, and if I should start finding a new passion.

Honestly, I thought I was pretty qualified, so I sent an email back to the coordinator asking (politely, of course) why my application did not stand out enough, and how I could improve. Out of his kind heart he did give me a thorough response.

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Mr. Hamilton’s response

With that response, I was satisfied. This time, I was just looking in the wrong place for the job I wanted, and I’m thankful that they saw me as unsuitable as well. I would have been quite disappointed to travel all the way to the NCAA headquarters to update a couple twitter statuses.

Guess my next move will be trying to find an opportunity that doesn’t just come with a great name like NCAA, but actually challenges me to use my brain (And also successfully leading the Purdue Institute of Industrial and Systems Engineers Professional Board to two more great semesters)!

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