This interview is presented to you by the University of Nebraska — Lincoln Master of Arts in Business with a Specialization in Intercollegiate Athletics Administration.
By: Meaghan McCloskey, @Meaghan_Mc3
Don’t let Tessa Ruid’s age fool you. Despite having only graduated from the University of Wisconsin in 2015, Ruid is a seasoned sports industry veteran. Currently the Green Bay Packers’ Email and Fan Acquisition Coordinator, she got her start as a Communications Student Assistant in the Badgers’ Athletic Department during her sophomore year.
“I spent three years in the athletic department working with all varsity sports- writing articles, recaps, media notes and doing social media. It was one of the most impactful roles I had because I was able to gain experience with a variety of sports and learn about ones I didn’t know as much about.”
Growing up, Ruid played sports and always liked the idea of working in the industry. She took a sports marketing class in high school that piqued her interest, but when she got to college, she spent her first two years as a meteorology major.
“My first two years at Wisconsin, I studied atmospheric and oceanic science. Then I decided I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life working in a lab and switched to business. I still love weather and enjoy working in the, ‘Frozen Tundra’ because we have all weather extremes. Snowy games are my favorite!”
Ruid also mentioned that going to Wisconsin during the football team’s trip to the 2012 Rose Bowl and the men’s basketball team’s appearances in the Final Four and 2015 National Championship also played a role in her wanting to work in sports.
“Working at Wisconsin helped expedite my love for working in sports because I worked for my school and it didn’t feel like a job. I also realized that working in sports in addicting,” Ruid said.
Even though she worked heavily with the athletics department during the school year, Ruid didn’t take summers off. In 2013, she spent the summer with the NBA at their league office in New York City as their Corporate Services and Promotions intern. In this role, she worked a variety of promotion shoots, including NBA Cares events, was the production assistant during the 2013 NBA Draft and worked on b-roll for corporate partners, which was new for her.
“It was my first time living outside of Wisconsin, but you have to be able to adapt when you work in sports and find roles that challenge you because it will help you grow professionally. I didn’t have a lot of experience with editing videos, so this role helped me gain new skills and insights into parts of the sports business world that I hadn’t worked in before. Also, working the NBA Draft was very cool because I got to see the behind-the-scenes planning and execution that went into running an event of that magnitude.”
In 2014, Ruid worked for Fox Sports Wisconsin as their Marketing and Communications Intern, which entailed a lot of social media. The following summer, after she graduated, she became a full-time intern with the Packers as their Brand and Marketing Intern. Both internships gave her experience in various marketing capacities, such as marketing promotions, media plans, signage and more. Then, in June of this year, the Packers decided to hire her on full-time.
“It felt really good to get hired on full-time, not just because it was a full-time job, but also because it’s such an iconic brand. I also didn’t think I’d be working for the team I grew up cheering for,” said Ruid.
When asked if she had any difficulty separating work from fandom, Ruid said she’s had no problem separating the two.
“In sports, you have to be able to put business before being a fan, but it’s definitely more fun working for the team I grew up supporting. I would’ve been happy working in any sport or for any team, but I loved working football game days at Wisconsin. Plus, in football, each game means so much because there aren’t as many as other sports.”
When asked what her favorite part about working for the Packers was, Ruid said the people.
“Everyone’s motivated and happy to be at work. They’re also willing to lend a hand when you need it. When I got hired on full-time, I didn’t have a lot of experience in analytics or email marketing, but I had a great team around me willing to help me learn.”
In her current role, Ruid creates and executes all fan acquisition campaigns through contesting and sweepstakes, and helps develop and manage marketing. She also does research on game day experience and other events.
When talking about her goals for the future, Ruid said she’s “going with the flow.” She wants to go back to school and get her MBA, but for now, she wants to continue growing with the Packers and get all the opportunities she can with them.
When asked what advice she would give others trying to get in the industry, Ruid had a few pieces to offer.
“Gain experience in any way you can. Blog, work for your school newspaper (if you’re a student) and don’t be afraid to try new things. It’s okay to not know exactly what you want to do, but take on roles that challenge you because it shows you can adapt. It also helps you learn what you want to do or don’t want to do. Also, utilize social media as a personal branding tool and for networking purposes by connecting with people in the industry that have the job you want. Finally, make sure to keep in contact with bosses and coworkers from previous jobs and internships. Everyone is willing to help each other out.”