York College Sport Management graduate lands dream job at Under Armour
When Jessica Pezzolla was 16, she and her father embarked on a college tour that stretched from New England to Maryland.
A last-minute decision to pull off the highway and visit York College of Pennsylvania became the turning point that would later land Pezzolla in a dream job with Under Armour.
At the time of her visit, Pezzolla’s only connection to York County was her father’s impressions of the area during his yearly trips to the city’s annual Street Rod Festival.
"We had no expectations and hadn't done any research," says Pezzolla, "but I stepped on campus and really enjoyed what I saw coming in as an outsider for the first time."
When Pezzolla returned home to New Jersey and began going through all of the colleges she had visited, she really focused on her major.
"I kept thinking about ways to create a major in Sport Management like I had seen at York College at other schools,” says Pezzolla, a 2009 graduate of the program. “But then I thought, 'Why try and create something they already have right here?' From classes to atmosphere to social opportunities, York College had everything I wanted."
Pezzolla came to York College as an enthusiastic Sport Management major, which includes a practicum of 120 hours of work experience with the athletic department during the program's first four semesters. In her first year, she worked in the gym itself. In her second year, she switched and moved to the communications side of sports, writing web stories and calculating statistics, which she continued through her senior year.
In her junior year, Pezzolla was selected as one of a handful of students to intern with Diadora Soccer in Seattle.
"It was my first experience with event management, from set-up to break-down and interaction with brand fans," she said. "At that point, I got really interested in retail marketing and store setup, so I headed up all the retail merchandise at tournaments."
When she interviewed with Under Armour in 2009, there were about three York College alumni working at the company. Now, there are more than 20.
Pezzolla was assigned to work in retail human resources, and her master project for the summer was to create a hiring and onboarding program for new teammates.
"That summer, we opened several new stores, so there was rapid onboarding, and I helped find the most efficient way to bring onboard and train new teammates."
At the end of the summer, Pezzolla knew this was where she wanted to stay.
"I applied for every opening I was remotely qualified for because I wanted to get my face out there and meet with as many people as I could," she said.
Pezzolla was hired as a receptionist in November 2009 and was tasked with greeting all guests and interviewees, as well as creating a concierge program for new teammates.
After about a year, Pezzolla was ready for more responsibility.
After holding roles in internal events and corporate real estate and facilities, she now mainly focuses on hospitality. Her title is “Manager, Hospitality & Events,” and she is the hospitality coordinator for guests in Baltimore and around the world.
"Every day here is different, and I have never repeated a day, which makes me love my job even more,” Pezzolla says.
York College experience pays off
As it relates to her job, Pezzolla says the Sport Management classes at York College stressed group work and taught them to rely on a team.
“Everything we do at Under Armour is with teams,” she says. “In just one project I'll work with the Events Team, the Executive Team, the Sports Marketing Team, the vendors, and my experience at York College helps me manage the work I do today."
She attributes much of her success to the education and experience she gained in school.
“With my degree from York College, I think I have the foundation that I could go into a bunch of different work environments,” she says. “The real-world experiences demonstrated for us in class taught me how to adapt to change and gave me the right process to make decisions.”
York College is proud to offer one of the best Sport Management schools in Pennsylvania, where our Sport Management major prepares students for a career working in sports. Where can a degree in sports management at York College take you?