Welcome to the Fortinet Intern Spotlight Series. In this bi-monthly series, we embark on a journey into the lives of talented individuals who have chosen to explore the dynamic landscape of the sports industry through the American Junior Golf Association's (AJGA) internship program.
Each installment of this series shines a spotlight on a single intern, unraveling their unique journey, experiences, and growth within the internship through the traveling one in operations, communications or in-house experience.
These interns hail from diverse backgrounds, with a shared passion for sports, teamwork, and personal development. From golf novices to seasoned sports enthusiasts, they all find a place in the AJGA's internship program.
To kick off the series, we focus on Julia Rodriguez. She interned in the spring and the summer as an Operations Intern in 2023.
Can you tell me a little about your background?
I was born in Dallas, and I grew up going to all types of sporting events that my dad would take me to like the Cowboys, Astros, and Rockets so I was always around sports and fell in love with them. I didn’t know what I wanted in college, but I went to a Rockets game in high school and just the atmosphere and excitement really drew me into working in sports. I got to college, did some research, and found sports management and it was right up my alley! I applied for UT Austin and its sports management program and knew it was what I wanted to be in.
How did you find out about the AJGA?
Honestly, just a bunch of emails from TeamWork Online! I honestly had no clue about it or even if it was legitimate, so I watched the videos on the website of a day of operations from an intern’s perspective and it sounded cool. I saw the opportunity for operations and even though I didn’t have any experience in golf, I knew I had the qualities for it, so I just went for it and I’m so glad I did. Going to Intern Recruiting Weekend (IRW) was an amazing opportunity that changed my life for sure from all the different people on staff to the candidates and the speakers, with or without getting the internship, it was so impactful.
You’ve done the Spring and Summer Operations Internship, what’s your experience been like?
Where do I even start? I just thought, wow, really, they’re throwing eight strangers in their mid-twenties on the road? The amount of trust the AJGA has in their interns is unreal, but both in a life sense and sports operations, I feel like I’ve learned and grown a ton. Honestly, just seeing the impact we have on a tournament exceeded my expectations. I just like the chaos behind the scenes. To those from the outside, they just see a great tournament put on, but the chaos and energy that goes into it throughout, I really love it. Plus, from a teamwork perspective working from people I viewed as strangers to now those I’ve grown really close with has been amazing.
What’s been your biggest takeaway from the internship?
I would say being able to adapt to change. There are new stresses and challenges every week even though you have a good understanding of what you’re doing on a week-to-week basis. Being able to manage those changes and adapt to them is something that I’ve loved. The AJGA has helped me grow in that even though I felt pretty good about adapting. I’ve gained so much more confidence with that skill and just the constant growth because I’ve been like a sponge, I’m always learning, and I just feel like a new person who’s ready to hit the workforce.
What would you tell someone who’s thinking about applying for the internship?
I feel like this internship is amazing because it’s the exact one to tell you whether you really want to be in the sports industry. There are early mornings and long days and every day is a grind but at the same time, you learn and grow so much. There’s so much opportunity to gain experience and just the networking opportunities you have is incredible. I feel like this internship is a great eye-opening experience on the life of working in sports in every aspect.
What’s the next step in your career?
I would probably continue chasing working within sports operations because I’ve really enjoyed it over these past six months. I just really enjoy the behind-the-scenes so hopefully, I can be in major sports like the NBA, NHL, or the golf industry, but we’ll see!