News

February 1, 2010

From Crunching Numbers to Catching Fish

A love of sports and an alumni-sponsored externship led Courtney Dixon ’08 to a job at ESPN — by Jess Wason ’11

Courtney Dixon ’08 is surrounded by sports in her job at ESPN, but she learned to appreciate outdoor sports the hard way: through her own experience.

“I love all sports, and working at ESPN I get to spend a lot of time reading about them,” said Courtney. “But one sport I didn’t know much about when I started the job was fishing. Last summer, on a trip to Cape Cod, my boyfriend and I were having dinner when we spotted groups of fish moving along the shore by our restaurant. We grabbed his fishing rod from the car and climbed down a giant sand dune — despite my white pants and sandals! — to get down to the beach. We were casting into the darkness with no luck, but just as we were about to give up, I caught my first striper! After struggling to reel in the fish and climbing back up the sand dune to the car, I gained a much greater appreciation for the sport of fishing and for the whole Outdoors section of ESPN.com.”

Courtney’s love of sports is perfect for her position in ESPN’s digital marketing department, where she works as a liaison between the sales and editorial teams, and is also an idea generator for her assigned sports.

When I asked what she majored in at Lafayette, I assumed she would say English, or maybe even a little-known sports-related major that I have yet to discover, but to my surprise, it was neither.

“In high school I had great math teachers and I wanted to be like them,” she said. “It was exciting to be faced with a problem and have the tools to be able to solve it. At Lafayette, I decided to pursue a major in math. Although it was very challenging, I don’t think there was anything else I would have wanted to do instead.”

One of her favorite classes at Lafayette was Geometry with Professor Elizabeth McMahon. “It was really hands-on and we had to build our own figures,” said Courtney. “It was a fun class because we were forced to work with a problem and solve it in class that day.”

Outside the classroom, Courtney was, of course, involved with sports as a member of the field hockey team. She also served on the executive board of the Residence Hall Council.

“It was a valuable experience because we worked with a group of representatives from every dorm and designed a budget for creative bonding events for each dorm,” she said. “It was exciting to be able to bring people together.”

In an effort to figure out her post-college plans, Courtney used Lafayette’s Office of Career Services and gained experience through two externships. The first was with financial firm UBS. Her love of sports led her to a second one that changed her career path.

“I was able to do an externship with the Philadelphia Flyers during my senior year, which helped me to make a decision between pursuing a career in finance or in sports,” said Courtney. “Being able to witness sports marketers on the job was a huge turning point for me.”

Through externship host Shawn Tilger ’94, Courtney spent a week in the Flyers’ marketing department. She sat in on brainstorming meetings, accompanied a player to a school presentation, put posters up during games, and helped to organize a signing after a practice. “That was when I decided that I definitely wanted to work in sports,” said Courtney.

She later made calls and sent emails to contacts at ESPN. After a successful interview, she was hired in June right after graduation and is now based in New York City.

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