(*Niagara University is a Proud Partner of FOS)
The master of science in sport management program at Niagara University gives students the opportunity to take the next step in their sport industry career. Many a Niagara graduate have even received the skills and training they need to land their first full-time role in their chosen subsection of the sports industry.
This was the case for 2018 graduate Tara Hanson, now an account executive for group sales at the Memphis Redbirds, an MiLB affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals. Hanson has been at her current position for almost two months after graduating from Niagara in December. Her graduation lined up perfectly, timing-wise, to pursue a dream career in baseball.
“Right before graduation I was trying to put my name and my resume out there as much as possible,” Hanson recalls. “So I applied to a few listings online, and Memphis was one of the first ones that got back to me. They seemed very interested in me, and I liked the atmosphere. I got a really good feeling from the team.”
Hanson grew up immersed in sports and was a college softball player in her undergraduate career at Shepherd University in West Virginia. A career in sports was a natural next step.
“I couldn’t imagine not working in either baseball or golf after growing up and being around those two sports all of the time,” Hanson says.
Hanson was recruited to play golf at Niagara out of high school but decided to play and study elsewhere at the last minute. She kept tabs on the sport management Master’s program, however, and reached out to Niagara’s faculty shortly after her undergraduate career ended.
“I could tell that they really cared about their students,” Hanson says. “So I decided that I had to give it a chance and see what they had to offer.”
Hanson believes Niagara helped her grow as a professional thanks to individual attention from the faculty and on-the-job learning opportunities the program afforded her access to.
“I got a lot out of the program thanks to the small class sizes. All the professors involved in the program were very hands-on,” Hanson says emphatically. “I got an opportunity to intern with the Iowa Cubs last summer thanks to some encouragement from the faculty, and that was a great experience. I also had a part-time position in the box office with the Buffalo Bills through a partnership that the university had with the team.”
Now a full-time employee in Memphis, Hanson looks forward to continuing to grow in her new role.
“I’m just trying to learn as much as possible, and everybody here at the Redbirds has been so accommodating when it comes to that. I ask a lot of questions, and they have answered every one so far. I’ve already learned so much in the short time that I’ve been here.”
An approachable personality is a key element to success in the sales world. Hanson says she is friendly by nature she, but also credits Niagara for helping develop that quality even further.
“Niagara definitely heightened my personable nature in that they really helped me understand how important it is to have that within the sports industry,” Hanson says. “Niagara helped prepare me for the nuances of the sport industry and how it differs from the rest of the business world.”
Ultimately, Hanson believes her experience at Niagara helped her start her career off on the right foot, and recommends the master’s program highly to anyone considering a graduate education specific to sports.
“When it comes to Niagara, you can’t beat how much they care,” she says. “I was only there for a year-and-a-half, but I feel like I got more attention and guidance than from any other teacher or professor that I have had in my life. I still chat with some of my professors now from time to time. I wouldn’t trade the connections that I made there for the world.”