One of the elements that lends to Bucknell’s prestige as an academic institution is the opportunity for students to do interesting and high-level summer internships. Whether sought out independently or through the Bucknell Career Development Center, many students take advantage of internships all over the country, particularly during the summer between the junior and senior year.
One neat “How I Spent My Summer” example is senior Claire DeBoer of the Bison women’s basketball team. One of the top players in the Patriot League, Claire interned in ESPN’s sales and marketing division in New York City this past summer. She says she had an incredible experience working with ESPN and living in the city, and it has even resulted in her re-thinking her career plans after graduation.
Claire was the 2014 Patriot League Rookie of the Year, and she has earned All-Patriot League honors in each of the last two seasons. She averaged 15.7 points and 6.9 rebounds per game in 2015-16 on a team that won a school-record 25 games, including a 17-1 conference record. Claire enters her senior year with 1,151 career points, 17th-most in team history.
We caught up with Claire last week and asked her about her summer with ESPN and expectations for the coming basketball season.
BB: Tell us how your internship with ESPN came about.
CD: I was lucky actually. I got an email from the Bucknell Bridge [the Career Development Center’s job and internship database]. I don’t always open those emails, but this one was about an ESPN rotational internship, and it caught my eye, so I figured I would apply. The requirements were that you had to be a junior athlete, so I thought, “OK this is perfect.” The only interview I did was over the phone, and about a month later someone called to tell me that I had gotten the internship. I was like, “are you serious.”
BB: ESPN’s studios are in Bristol, Connecticut, but you were in their corporate offices in New York City. What did your internship entail?
CD: I was in New York City, doing sales and marketing, but I got to go to Bristol and see the studios, which was really cool. They set us up in Brooklyn Heights, and all the interns lived there. My internship was a little special, because I was at ESPN for seven weeks, and then I was at Wiedan Kennedy, which is an ad agency, and then at Carat, another ad agency, and then at Fox Sports, each for one week. So my internship was about viewing the whole sports media industry as a whole.
My supervisor was the senior director of digital sales at ESPN, so I worked really closely with him. They gave me assignments where I worked with the Snapchat Discover platform. On Snapchat there are a bunch of publishers in the app, and it shows stories that also have ads integrated into them. I would record the ads each day and do competitive analysis with different publishers. I was also able to meet with a lot of different people across departments to see what they were doing and what I liked.
I was also involved with an internship competition called “The Pitch”. My team actually made it to the finals, and we got to go back down to Bristol and present it to a panel . I was in a group of three, and we were asked to present a business idea. Ours was an ESPN fitness app. They liked it, so we moved on to the final round against four other teams. There were 22 teams and we made it to the final five.
BB: What was your visit to Bristol like?
CD: It was so cool. We got to go on the SportsCenter set, and we met Mike & Mike. The president, John Skipper, spoke to all the interns, which was great. We also got to go on the Baseball Tonight set, and then went behind the scenes to see what the producer and director are doing.
BB: How did your internship fit with your Bucknell major?
CD: I’m studying psychology, which is quite different from the sales world. But they did say that having a psych background is good when it comes to working with clients. It helps give you a sense of what they are thinking. Now I am thinking about pursuing a master’s in marketing. I think this internship really sparked an interest. I really like psychology, but now I am also really interested in the business world.
BB: Did you have any networking opportunities in New York?
CD: Another really cool part of it was that a ton of Bucknell alumni work at ESPN. They would call and say let’s grab lunch. I got to make a lot of connections. There are also a lot of Bucknell alumni events in New York City, so it was fun to catch up with other alums after work.
BB: What was it like living and working in New York City?
CD: I went there when I was 10 years old for about two days, and I hated it then because it was such a huge city and I was overwhelmed. But this time I really liked it. I love the pace. I would get up at 6 a.m. every day and work out, and it felt good to be responsible and have a schedule and be a part of the working world.
BB: Did you have any time at all to play basketball?
CD: I played at Columbia University on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and I would play pickup with their team. It was good to stay in tune with basketball and get to play against some college players.
BB: Last season was such a special year. You must be very excited for 2016-17.
CD: We were still 17-1 in the Patriot League even with so many injuries, which was amazing. I think we definitely showed that we are able to fight through adversity. We have a great team dynamic, and I think we are going to do great this year. I think we have a great freshman class coming in. It’s unfortunate that Ellie [Mack] got injured, but MK [Moore] and Gia [Hayes] both bring a lot to the table. Our freshman class was awesome last year. Now they are sophomores and they are a really strong group.
BB: Can you believe that it’s already your senior year? Do you feel more leadership responsibility as a senior?
CD: I feel like I was a freshman yesterday. I’m really excited. You definitely have to take on a leadership role as a senior. I tried to do it some last year, but now as a senior you really have to do a great job of reaching out to the underclassmen and bring them with you on your back. I have to lead, not only by example, which I have typically done in the past, but I have to be more vocal. I’m trying to push myself out of my comfort zone and be more vocal this year. I can’t wait to share my senior year with Meg [McGurk] and Sue [Swart].
BB: How has your game changed over the last four years?
CD: I’ve become more of a hybrid player. I think I’m more well-rounded now. I’ve definitely tried to make my game more well-rounded by practicing my shooting and becoming more of a threat on the arc so that I can still have my drives. If defenders have to close out on me more tightly, then it’s easier to drive past them. I was strictly a post player in high school. I really didn’t do any perimeter shooting, so I think my game has really improved in that respect.
BB: You grew up in Grosse Point, Michigan. How did you end up at Bucknell?
CD: I’ve lived in Grosse Point my whole life. It was weird going from Grosse Point all the way to Bucknell. It was really different at first. I had no idea about Bucknell. I knew Coach Roussell when he was at University of Chicago. He had come to my high school for an open gym, and I developed some interest in Chicago. We connected by email at that point, and then he went to Bucknell, so that’s how I became interested. I went to the elite camp and then I eventually got offered. I really liked it there, so I committed right away. I really did not take much time in my recruiting process. I liked Bucknell and said that’s where I’m going to go. I’ve been so happy here, I think I really made the right decision. It’s a great campus with great academics. It was exactly what I wanted.
BB: We’re only a few weeks into your senior year, but what are your thoughts on postgraduate plans?
CD: I’m just not sure yet. If there is a possibility of playing in Europe I’d like to explore that. There is a possibility of maybe going to grad school, but I’m also going to look and see what’s out there in the job market. There is a lot going on, and I feel as the year goes along I’ll finally discover what I want to do. It’s nice to have some options.
BB: Thanks Claire!