Ever since I was little, my dream was to work at ESPN. I always felt most comfortable in sports competition, it was my escape, my first love and a way to prove myself.
I would watch sportscasters Stuart Scott, Kevin Negandhi, Kirk Herbstreit and Scott Van Pelt and think to myself “That is what I want to do. No, that’s what I need to do. It is what I was born to do.”
In elementary school, I started competing in Special Olympics. When I decided to stop in college, I started advocating and sharing athletes’ stories. Special Olympics isn’t just about sports. It is a stepping stone to advance in the world. It is a place that allows you to compete and find your voice, which helped me become the person I am today. Without Special Olympics, I wouldn’t be a part of the ESPN internship program.
During the 10-week program, I worked on the X Games Team and the ESPN Content Strategy Team. I had the opportunity to travel to Minneapolis, where during the X Games, I was in charge of Twitter content. I handled the preview posts, live competition posts, and wrap up posts. It was a learning process to use Twitter that fast, but that is the point of an internship - to learn to step outside your comfort zone and to expand your strengths and weaknesses.
As part of that, the X Games and Special Olympics partnered together for a unified BMX race where X Games athletes partnered with athletes of Special Olympics. They did this for an excellent reason - they raced for inclusion. I was lucky enough to take part in the event. In an organization where I was once an athlete, I am now helping spread the importance of inclusion through my writing and voice.
Out of thousands of applications, I am one of 61 interns and the first Special Olympics athlete to earn a position in the program. That is something I take a lot of pride in, because everything I overcame. The odds were always stacked against me. I earned one of the hardest internships to get because of hard work and opportunity. I stayed patient. I knew what I wanted and what it took to get there.
My good friend Kevin Negandhi, who I’ve always looked up to, once said: “All I wanted was a chance.” That stuck with me and I’m so thankful that ESPN gave me that chance. I came into this internship with an open mind and a desire to learn new things. After 10 weeks, I have gained a whole new skill set and a wealth of knowledge from different areas of the company. What I take from this experience will not just help me moving forward with my career, but it will help in life.
ESPN is the place I want to be and I will continue to do whatever it takes to get back here.
Check out RJ’s interview of ESPN’s Kevin Neghandi.