From Sutliff Hall to the NFL, professional sales major will soon be on call for Commanders
Just minutes into the job interview Emma Fortune was sold on the Washington Commanders. Soon, she’ll be on the frontlines selling for them in preparation for the NFL season.
It’s what she’s been groomed for — in the classroom as a professional sales and marketing major, two internships, countless sales competitions, and competing as a cross country and track and field runner for the Huskies. It’s what she's always wanted — a chance to work in a highly competitive, high-paced sales environment for a multi-billion-dollar organization.
“Working for a professional sports team has always been a dream of mine,” said Fortune, who graduates in May from Commonwealth University-Bloomsburg with a bachelor’s in professional sales and marketing. “My future manager mentioned that more than half of the current inside sales reps are female and many of the senior leadership positions are female.”
She added, “Sports is a predominately male industry, so hearing this made me really comfortable working with the Commanders — knowing I’ll have a lot of potential to grow within the company.”
Not long after walking the graduation stage next month, Fortune will join the Commanders as an inside sales representative at FedEx Field selling season tickets.
“I’ll be tasked with reaching out to current and past customers as well as qualified leads to generate new sales,” Fortune said. “I’ll be inviting these customers and leads to visit the stadium where I’ll get to build a relationship with them. I’ll be heavily using a CRM system to track these relationships and any other customer information.”
A lot of this, including tracking down leads and using a CRM system, will not be foreign to Fortune because of Bloomsburg’s professional sales and marketing program.
“In all my job interviews it was a huge talking point,” Fortune said. “Employers are interested in learning more about what we learn as sales majors. I explain that we do multiple in-class role plays, get experience using the CRM system Salesforce, and compete in sales competitions. Having this knowledge played a key role in landing this position.”
She added, “Already being comfortable selling products to professionals in role plays shows employers I’m comfortable going outside of my comfort zone to close a deal.”
To pair with her professional sales foundation from the classroom and sales competitions, Fortune boosted her sports portfolio with a summer internship with the American Junior Golf Association. There she traveled across the country and worked in the trenches of several highly competitive junior golf tournaments, including the Wyndham Cup in Massachusetts and Polo Golf Junior Classic at the famed Bethpage Black course.
“From my first interview I knew the AJGA would be a great fit, and that I would be able to grow as a young professional there,” Fortune said. “One of the main goals of the AJGA is to provide a platform for junior golfers from around the world to earn college scholarships. As a college athlete, this was something I could relate to closely. The opportunity to bring college coaches and players together at tournaments stood out to me when applying.”
Fortune was led to AJGA opportunity from her previous internship with Living Sport, a sports study abroad program, which she completed the prior summer in Greece following her sophomore year at Bloomsburg. So, a busy internship that required traveling wasn’t intimidating to Fortune.
“I traveled to nine different states and ran 11 junior golf tournaments,” Fortune said. “Some of my tasks included setting up sponsorship signage, announcing players' tee times, course marking, and scoring the players once their round was complete.”
She added, “During the tournaments, I was an on-course rules official where I helped answer rules questions, enforced Pace of Play guidelines, and communicated with the golfers and their parents. After the awards were given, my team and I would break down the entire tournament and travel to our next one!”
According to Fortune, she was more than ready for the challenges and demands of both summer internships thanks to Bloomsburg.
“I had the confidence to communicate with players, parents, volunteers, college coaches, sponsors, stakeholders, and golf course staff,” Fortune said. “Without building successful relationships with these groups, the AJGA wouldn’t be able to run any tournaments. Having sales role plays in class and sales competitions with actual professionals, I was fully prepared when it came time to build rapport and have a meaningful conversation with the president and CEO of Wyndham Resorts and Hotels.”
Connections she made with the AJGA proved just as valuable.
“The experience of being on the road all summer was unlike no other and has taught me so much not only about the business side of sports but about myself as well,” Fortune said. “Working closely with seven other interns for 11 weeks gave me the experience of working with different personality types and communication styles.”
Through the networking of both internships — utilizing skills honed by Professional U and the Zeigler College of Business — Fortune discovered the Washington Commanders sales opportunity by utilizing TeamWork Online, a recruiting system designed specifically for sports and live events.
“What excites me most is how much potential I have to grow as a professional in this position,” Fortune said. “Not only will I be working with a professional sports team, but I’ll be learning so much about sales. In class, we learn how to sell high-tech and complicated products, which is much different from selling the experience of a football game. In this position, I’ll be working every home football game interacting with fans and finding potential leads. I’ve never attended an NFL game, so to be working my very first one is super exciting.”