UK student develops professional skills at athletics internship


Nia Pennington at Big Blue Madness on Oct. 12, 2018. 

Kayla Crittle

There are three types of sports lovers here at the UK: Those who play, those who watch and those who help promote. While the athletes and the fans steal the spotlight, the UK Athletics Department usually works its magic behind the scenes, and for junior Nia Pennington, that was the perfect fit for her.  

Sports have always been a major part of Pennington’s life. She said she loved the atmosphere of going to games and seeing the fans come out to enjoy the sport with other people who enjoyed it as well. 

At the start of her junior year at UK, she discovered that some of her newfound friends were involved with the UK Athletics program, so she reached out to them to see what their jobs entailed and what qualifications she needed to get involved as a student worker. Through her friends, Pennington was directed to the UK Athletics website and referred to Marketing Director Kate Stoess for further information. 

After doing more research on the position and looking over the application and job requirements, Pennington then reached out to UK Athletics to try to schedule time to meet with the head of the Marketing team. Before long, she was asked to send in her resume for review and got a call back minutes later to meet the team and discuss the position in more detail. 

It wasn’t long after their meeting that she secured the internship.

“I later received an email about the sports schedule and what sports I would be interested in working for the fall and spring semesters,” Pennington said. 

The rest was history for her. She began working as a marketing intern in late August, and she’s been busy ever since. 

“My job consists of a lot of interaction with students and fans. As a unit, we enhance the game experience for fans with contests, prizes, t-shirt tosses, and other in-game features,” Pennington said.

She said that all interns are required to attend home football games and another fall sport; Pennington chose volleyball. There are also special events, like Big Blue U, Big Blue Madness and more, she said. 

Pennington said that a typical game day depends on what station she’s working.

“I have worked both the fan zone and student gate. Student gate interns assist stadium workers in wrist banding students and their guests,” Pennington said. “…We also help with passing out promotional items to the students coming through the gate such as pom-poms, towels, glow sticks, etc. The fan zone is a bit more interactive. We help set up the fan zone area inside the Nutter Field House. We pass out posters, set up poster signings for other teams and help out fans with any questions they have.” 

On top of having to attend every home football game and women’s volleyball game, Pennington is also an RA, a student worker at the UK bookstore and has 18 credit hours this semester.

“My planner is my best friend. I have multiple leadership positions on campus and a loaded class schedule. However, keeping everything organized in two separate planners (one for school and one for work) really helps,” Pennington said. 

Upon graduating, Pennington plans on using her degree in ISC and the skills she learned as a marketing intern to do creative advertising in the sports and media industry. 

“I do feel like I can use what I’ve learned in my internship in the real world such as time management, the best marketing strategies and how to keep clients and people interested,” she said.