Adena Andrews, recently a columnist for ESPN, is a new writer for CBSSports.com, and is one of only four black female sports columnists in the nation. To break barriers in any industry, you have to be able to continually work hard, even in the face of opposition.
Adena once heard a basketball player call this unique quality, “grustle" and the term has stuck with her and embodies everything she has done to achieve success.
She recently shared some of those secrets with me, and they are things every college student should consider when going from college to career.
First of all, tell me more about grustle? How do you define it?
It really is an X factor. You either have it or you don’t. I think everyone has it for something in life. You may have majored in business but your grustle may be in fashion. I think it’s important for students to follow what gives them grustle.
How did you figure out you wanted to work in journalism?
My high school had a broadcast Journalism course and I pounced on that. I told myself, I think I want to do this for a living, because it never seemed like work. So I decided that was what I wanted to major in. I was an athlete my entire life (e.g. swimming), and sports seemed like a great topic to write about. So I started writing about swimming.
How did you take your love of a class to a career?
I majored in journalism at USC. And then I started going to out into the community saying I was a sports writer and essentially telling them “I’ll do anything you want for free…” and I was able to start writing and getting even more clips, covering high school games and even Lakers games. I like to say, “A closed mouth don’t get fed.” If you don’t tell people what you want to do, there’s no way they can give you what you want.
It was hard to be a writer, and I thought it was too lofty of a goal as a college graduate. But I kept telling people, and within two weeks of graduation I was an intern at ESPN magazine.
I encourage students to join professional associations. As a student I joined the National Association of Black Journalists, and that’s how I got my gig at ESPN. I told someone there, my mentor, that I wanted to work for ESPN. He talked to somebody, and he talked to somebody, and they made it happen. But of course I had to be ready! I had clips and I was prepared. I was scared to tell people what I wanted to do, but I’m a big proponent of telling people what I want. It makes things happen.
How did you turn your internship into a full-time career?
Don’t front. If you go places as an intern do not sit there at dinners with folks and go to networking events and pretend you work for ESPN full time. Be sure to say you are just an intern, so the people you meet during your internship will know that you still need a job after the internship ends. I never portrayed something I wasn’t.
So when ESPN sent me out to cover the NBA transition camp program, I met someone from the NBA there; I just said hey this is what I’m trying to do with my future, can you help me. A job opened up on NBA.com and that person was able to help me. Use your internship as a networking opportunity!
Any final advice for students trying to figure out what to do with their lives and how to get there?
Find out what you have grustle for, what you’d stay up till 3am to do, or what you’d do in your free time. Also, don’t worry too much about it, because our generation will have at least four careers over our lifetime. What you decide now may not be what you retire as, not like our parents. Your life is still ahead of you.
Thank you so much Adena! You can check out Adena’s ESPN archives and follow her on Twitter.