If you’re a Washington Redskins fan, you know that the 2018 season was full of ups and downs. The team led the division at one point and had a chance at making the playoffs. Then, injuries plagued them and the hope of a playoff run dwindled away.
For a fan, this season (like most) was a whirlwind of emotions. As an employee of the Redskins, I experienced these same emotions, but on a heightened scale. (With behind-the-scenes contact with players, coaches, the owner, and other crucial staff, every game was like an all-access pass.)
This was my second season to work with the Redskins. I got my foot in the door last season when I was hired as an intern. I enjoyed the experience so much that I expressed my interest in coming back the next season for more. Last June, I got the call that I had been promoted to Game Day Public Relations Staff.
Now this position sounds cool, but what exactly does it entail?
Basically, I was doing the same duties as when I was an intern, but with more responsibility and opportunity. These duties included organizing and passing out materials throughout the stadium (like statistic sheets, flip cards, time sheets, and gamebooks), handing out credentials and photo vests to media, escorting the media around the stadium and answering their questions, recording and transcribing post-game interviews with the head coach and players, and passing out transcribed quotes to the media post-game.
As an official staff member, my new job responsibility was to train interns. I assisted in leading the interns on tours of the stadium, answering their questions, and training them on different tasks throughout the course of the season.
I was surprised that in my second season, my biggest takeaways came from taking on this leadership role.
Here are a few key points I learned about leadership:
1. Not everyone will pick things up as quickly as you’d like them to.
Just like for the players and coaches, the preseason games are used for training, placement, and an introduction to what the game day experience is like.
Preseason is the time for more in-depth training, for questions to be answered, and for mistakes to be corrected. If someone is still making mistakes once we’ve moved on to the regular season, it’s better to put that individual in a role they’re more suited for. At times, it was a frustrating process to figure out the right fit, but once we did, our team worked together like an unstoppable offense.
2. You never know what you’re going to get.
For me, the experience of working for the Washington Redskins alone made it worthwhile, and being able to put it on a resume is an added bonus. Meanwhile, working with multiple groups of interns taught me about the different types of people you’ll find in a workplace.
Most interns came to every game excited to learn and wanting to jump on every task, but some just looked at it as fulfilling another graduation requirement. Through communicating week after week with the interns who were less interested in being there, I was able to place them where they were most effective and felt most fulfilled.
3. Stay cool under pressure.
Games around the holidays can be tough. Interns are usually out of school for the semester and have other obligations with family or work. Some games were short-staffed, so we had to figure out a way to make it work. So we positioned the interns where they were strongest, and the press box staff filled in the gaps where coverage was needed.
While transitioning from an intern into a leadership position was not what I expected, it was a change that I needed. Like the Redskins season, it was filled with challenges, but with those challenges came new memories and experiences that helped me grow personally and professionally.