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Katherine Whitman '11 and John Gassner '88, senior director of ESPN's Global X Games

Katherine Whitman ’11 (New Hope, Pa.) spent her summer as an intern in the international advertising and sales department at ESPN in New York City.  An English major, she worked on a project with John Gassner ’88, senior director of ESPN’s Global X Games, who served as her mentor. She writes about her experience below.

After studying international marketing and communication in Barcelona, Spain, last spring, and as an avid sports fan, I knew an internship at ESPN would be the perfect way to expand my understanding of international sports broadcasting.

Working for the international ad/sales department was a stimulating hands-on learning experience. My daily assignments included updating sports programming information for the 2010-2011 season, creating campaign recaps for clients, updating the website, and brainstorming creative concepts for this year’s presentation in Latin America.

Mr. Gassner instantly became a great mentor to me while also being an incredible resource for the department. It was comforting to have a fellow Pard with so much valuable experience so close at hand. Although I only worked on one project directly with him – creating a condensed guide of sponsor elements, programming capabilities, and media platforms for different global regions – Mr. Gassner was always there to answer my questions and reminisce about life at Lafayette.

Working for ESPN International was especially invigorating this summer in light of the World Cup. The passion that the employees had for soccer was seamlessly integrated into their work. One minute we would be in the conference room watching American Landon Donovan score the winning goal against Algeria, and the next minute, I would witness that same enthusiasm as we discussed the new creative storyline for an upcoming Argentine client integration presentation.

The employees’ enthusiasm for sports was universal, and it carried through each individual’s workday. The combination of intelligence and energy created the perfect work environment. My knowledge of sports, media, marketing and ad/sales grew exponentially from listening to the insightful conversations that were going on around me, sitting in on meetings, and helping with creative campaign storylines.

ESPN interns are given a tremendous amount of responsibility; they are treated as full-time employees. Throughout the course of the summer, we were encouraged to meet with people from different departments to broaden our learning experience, and an intern speaker series was also set up.

The brand marketing presentation was particularly eye-opening. I had never realized all of the research and surveys that go into creating and sustaining a healthy brand–consumer relationship. The company really went out of its way to educate interns on the many different channels that are feeding the constant growth of ESPN.

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