“I was the shy girl. I hated talking to people I didn’t know. So my brother really had to teach me how to network. I knew that in the educational field I could have gotten a job right away. And in the sports industry, you had to know people. So in order to float and not sink, I had to step up my game and my personality had to completely change.”
Carrigan is currently a graduate student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill receiving a degree in Sports Administration. She received her undergraduate degree from Elon University, where she believed that elementary education was her calling. However, as soon as she got in the classroom to gain hands-on experience, she quickly realized that becoming a teacher was not going to fulfill her as she once had thought.
“Immediately when I got in the classroom, I realized that it was not for me. I didn’t want to be with the same kids doing the same thing every single day and then a year later it starts over. I just wanted something more adventurous. Something that you didn’t know what you were going to get on any given day. I always grew up an avid sports fan, but never really knew that it could even be a career. My brother played college baseball, so I was always a big baseball fan, and I played volleyball in high school and I danced for about 15 years.”
As Carrigan decided to pursue a career in sports, as much as she was excited to start this new journey, she felt completely overwhelmed and totally behind others who had committed to pursuing a career in sports the day they started college.
From Overwhelmed To Overqualified.
“I immediately dove in and felt really behind even just not having that freshman year under my belt. My resume was leaning one way and I completely had to redo that. Because of that, I dove into every single opportunity that I could find around campus and off-campus. That was probably the best decision I could have ever made. I had to develop that tenacious attitude that I had never had before in my life, just really asking anyone I knew for help and learning from every interaction and having so many conversations with people I didn’t know”
As Carrigan highlighted, one of the most important things is being able to build those relationships before you actually need them.
“Don’t be afraid to ask. You have to start building those relationships before you ask them for help. People want to help you. It seems like a big industry, but it’s really small when you get into the conferences and schools.”
The Truth About Networking Is That It Can Be Overwhelming.
Networking and asking people for help is really hard. But networking is a huge part of the professional world today. Over 80% of jobs are gained from networking. And if you don’t know where to start, you’re not alone. So many people report that the thought of networking gives them anxiety and fear. The beautiful thing about many things that cause us anxiety or fear is that we have the chance to become better at them if we are committed to practicing those set of skills. As Carrigan mentioned, it starts with being willing to accept and take on opportunities when they come.
“Say yes to everything. If there’s a conference tournament, go volunteer at it. Even if you have no interest in basketball. I worked the PGA Golf Tournament and I actually loved it. It really opened my eyes to golf and sometimes you just never really know what is going to click.”
Carrigan is currently in the second year of her program, in which she was placed in an internship with the Carolina football team – a role that has never been filled by a female student in the program. For women in football, it can feel very heavy trying to break into the field – and sometimes even lonely.
Carrigan Was Told She Most Likely Wouldn’t Get The Football Internship Because She Was A Woman.
“When I first got into the program, I said from the start I wanted to be the football intern. And one of my professors who I loved told me that they had never had a girl go from this program to be an intern in that department. Even qualified women with resumes like mine had been overlooked before. That was hard for me to hear, but I told myself I was still going to try. I am going to figure it out. I’m going to try and meet with those people and build those relationships. So many women would have taken what my professor said to me and took that to heart and internally believed that they wouldn’t get it. Even when people would ask me what internship I wanted I would always say “football, but no woman has ever received that position.” It was almost like I was saying that as an excuse to cover my butt in case it did not work out.”
As Carrigan reflected on her time so far in switching to a career field that is truly based on who you know, she advises anyone to really soak in all the information that they can.
“Be a sponge. Don’t be so narrow-minded. You may think you want to do one thing and that may totally switch. Talk with as many people as possible. Look on LinkedIn to find people who are in positions that you may one day want to be in and reach out to them, see what their day to day is like and if they would be open to you shadowing them. So many people want to help you, you just have to reach out and ask.”
Be Intentional About Networking.
It is true that your network is your net worth. The more genuine connections that you create, the broader your network becomes, and the higher the chance that the opportunities you want will fall into your lap. Networking is not a passive act, it is something that you truly have to be intentional about. No matter if you are just starting on your career or have been in your field for 30 years – there is true value in being able to network effectively.
Thank you so much for sharing, Carrigan! We wish you all the best as you continue through your graduate school program.
To connect with Carrigan on Instagram, follow her at @_carrigainbain.
Keep Watering Your Garden.