Thursday, June 04, 2009

Finals Flashback: How I Almost Came To Work For The Orlando Magic

In the summer of 1995, I had just graduated from Northwestern with my journalism degree. I was living back at home in D.C., trying to figure out what my (first) career move would be.

I applied for a training program with the Orlando Magic. I even flew down to Orlando -- on my own dime (foreshadowing) -- to interview.

I was given an offer in their P.R. department... as an unpaid intern. Intern? OK. Unpaid? Saywhat? So I would not only have to relocate myself down there, but then work 40+ hours a week...for free.

My other standing option was to move back to Chicago and live with my best friends in Wrigleyville. I even had a competing unpaid internship offer in pro basketball, working for the PR guy of the Chicago Rockers of the CBA.

At the time, I agonized over the decision. Although equally unpaid, the Magic job seemed more respectable -- like I was on a career path. The Rockers "job" felt more like an excuse to get back to Chicago and basically have a 5th year of college with my friends.

I moved to Chicago -- best decision I ever could have made. Not only did I have a near-perfect year, living near Wrigley and following Northwestern football on its Rose Bowl run, but about 6 weeks after getting to Chicago (which felt endless at the time), I landed a job with a start-up company backed by AOL, to create original sports content for AOL.

I had no previous experience -- or basically any knowledge at all -- about the internet (after all, it was only 1995), but I quickly learned. Mostly, I loved the fact that we were getting to make up the rules of online content as we went along, and I had a big hand in that. And I was getting paid -- not much, but compared to the Magic, a LOT more) to write about sports I loved.

With the Magic back in the most intense spotlight the team has seen since the spring of 1995* made me think about my earliest career moment/decision, when I nearly worked for them.

-- D.S.

* - In '95, I actually rooted against them; I really liked those two Rockets teams, particularly the second one, which went through the toughest playoff road since...well, since this Magic team, actually.

1 comment:

doublenicks said...

Great story. I graduated from college in 1994 and went to Orlando (on my own dime) and got the internship - mostly because that had someone who backed out at the last minute. It was interesting and fun but you didn't miss much. However, I can tell you that some people who were around in those days have done well for themselves. Whit Watson (former of ESPN, now of SunSports) was in the video department. Otis Smith, now GM was in charge of community relations. And George Galante (of the Dante & Galante Show - came in right after me (I left after the summer to work in Sports Publicity at Dartmouth).