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ESPN To UCLA: How I'm Using An MBA To Advance My Career In Sports Marketing

Emily Moore went from an sports marketing role at ESPN to the MBA program at UCLA Anderson—find out why

A long-time sports fan, Emily Moore landed in New York City in 2014 to tackle a position with sports agency IMG.

Emily had earned her BSc in Business Administration earlier that year, and with persistence landed a position in ESPN's Sports Marketing division that fall. Emily described the role as her “dream job at the time.”

For the next three years, she worked at ESPN, received multiple promotions, and stepped up to manage sponsorships for college football and basketball across the network’s television, digital, audio, print, and on-site activation platforms.

She’s now an MBA candidate at the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) Anderson School of Management—but why head for an MBA when you’re on such a winning streak?


Why MBA?

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Emily's choice was informed by a desire to take on decision-making roles on the client side of marketing.

Before settling on UCLA Anderson, Emily had considered her options, including continuing in media and pursuing employment with professional teams or leagues.

But when she envisioned moving up the corporate ladder as her career unfolded, pursuing an MBA seemed to be the clear path to gain the lifelong skills and network that, she says, “no job can give you.”

As a lifelong East Coaster, Emily’s network there is strong. But part of her “MBA long-term play” to pursue a degree at UCLA Anderson is about building her West Coast network.

She was also intrigued by UCLA Anderson’s Parker Career Management Center, which is ranked as the top business center among top-tier b-schools by The Economist.

The center provides an array of options available to students as they pursue job placements in their preferred industry, and this appealed greatly to Emily.

“There is so much opportunity at Anderson for students to pursue what they're passionate about,” she says. “Through the career center, you're really able to explore those options.”

Emily also sees the advantage of an urban MBA: “I think [UCLA Anderson] has the people and culture of a small college town school, but we also have the exposure and opportunities of a big city,” she explains.

“It’s a synergistic and collaborative environment, [but] not overly competitive; we really try to help each other out. It's truly as good a culture as it gets.”


The secret to a winning application

To her knowledge, Emily was the only one among her colleagues at ESPN who applied to B-school. As such, the beginning of her application process was a mostly private affair. Emily’s biggest challenge was preparing while remaining steadfast in her commitment to her work—a non-traditional path for a b-schooler.

The result was that Emily describes the fall of 2017 as “probably the busiest time in my life.”

In addition to studying for the GMAT and preparing to apply, she continued her work on-site at ESPN, while also traveling seven weekends of the season.

Fitting application work into this packed schedule was a challenge, but a few key tactics helped her pull through.

The first one is that she decided to knock out the GMAT before she started working on her application and essays: “For me, it was a good way to compartmentalize,” she says.

She also suggests that applicants talk to students and alumni about the application process, as well as visiting the campus and attending a class before submitting their application.

“Every school is different and getting a feel for the culture and student experience is important,” she says.


Hitting a home run with your choice of school

“It's all worth it,” she says, looking back. “You do have to put a lot of time into the GMAT and application process, but for me, my first four months at Anderson have been absolutely awesome and 100% worth all the work.”

For Emily, her research showed her that Anderson was a great fit for her skillset and ambitions—and it’s helped her thrive during her MBA.

As Anderson’s current Director of Business Development for the Sports Business Association, Emily is organizing an entertainment and sports conference for February 8th, 2019.

She’s also involved in the Admissions Ambassador Corps (AAC), where she gives tours, accompanies prospective students to classes, and fields their questions.

“It's been an amazing opportunity—I hope to take on a leadership role in the AAC in my second year!” she says.

“Anderson has obviously had a huge impact on me so far, and I want prospective and incoming first-year students to love their Anderson experience as much as I do.”

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