You spend a lot of your life working—you should love it, every single day.
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Sports Fan Lands Dream Job at ESPN
Teresa Causin has always been an avid sports fan. Her passion runs so deep that her husband’s wedding gift to her was Seahawks season tickets. So it’s only fitting that she now works at one of the world’s most successful sports networks, ESPN.
Causin (BA, Communication, 2006), a program manager for ESPN.com, spends her days overseeing web development projects, working with editors, designers, developers, and product managers to keep projects on track. Her work has an enormous reach: for the last 12 months, ESPN.com averaged more than 10 million unique visitors a day, spiking to more than 14 million on NFL Sundays and during the NCAA Tournament.
As a UW undergraduate, Causin could not have imagined such a job. She had planned to major in business, but changed her tune after taking a few communication classes and finding them compelling. Settling on a career path after graduation proved more difficult.
“To be honest, I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to do,” says Causin, who opted for a job as enrollment processor at the Art Institute of Seattle, with the idea that she would take classes in graphic design and pursue a career in web design. Before that came to pass, she was offered a contract position managing virtual events—online meetings with attendees from around the globe—for Microsoft. Next came a position as resource manager with Identity Mine, a small software company in Tacoma, where her focus was the efficient use of resources across multiple projects.
Causin discovered that she had already honed many of the skills needed for that position. Her Microsoft experience had made her more tech savvy, and her volunteer work as a youth volleyball coach had trained her to effectively identify and tap individuals’ strengths. “I had experience managing people coming on and off the bench, as one might say,” says Causin.
By the time Causin left Identity Mine three years later—a casualty of company layoffs—she was a project manager working on software applications, ranging from mobile apps for entertainment companies to surface applications for NFL teams. Following the layoff, she was without a job for the first time. It was “tough mentally,” she says, but it provided a much-needed opportunity to examine her long-term career goals. “I realized that I had grown this very ‘geeky’ piece to my life that I felt I would miss if I didn’t stay within some sort of creative and technical community,” says Causin.
Before long Causin landed a job at POP, a digital agency in Seattle, as a digital project manager. One of the vendors she worked with there was ESPN, which led to a job offer two years later. But the decision to defect to ESPN was not, ahem, a slam dunk. “Some people may think ‘No question,it's ESPN,’” says Causin, “but to up and leave a company I loved working at and to move clear across the country, away from all my family and friends…it was actually a hard decision.”
In the end, it was the right decision. As a program manager on ESPN’s Digital and Print Media team, Causin has the opportunity to work on highly visible projects, ensuring that the project team works collaboratively and efficiently. ““I enjoy seeing the collaboration across teams and how one idea comes to life through the entire process,” says Causin. “And the fact that our site touches so many people and so frequently is almost hard to comprehend." Causin notes that most months, ESPN.com is the fifth most visited web property among males ages 18 to 54, surpassed only by Google, Facebook, Yahoo!, and Microsoft.
It also doesn’t hurt that ESPN’s focus is something that Causin is personally passionate about. “It is 24/7 sports here, so it’s important to have an interest in, and passion about, sports,” she says.
During a recent visit to Seattle, Causin spoke to a room full of UW Communication students who were eager to learn how she landed her coveted job. Causin emphasized that her path to her current position was anything but typical, but then acknowledged that “nothing happens in a standard fashion. You have to be looking for connections any way you can.”
Causin’s main piece of advice is applicable to all job seekers, regardless of their field: “Find something you love doing. Don’t settle. You spend a lot of your life working—you should love it, every single day. It will take some time to figure out exactly what it is that makes you jump out of bed each morning and look forward to your day, but once you find it, there is no replacement.”