Working at ESPN was a long-time dream for 2001 Quinnipiac graduate Jill Ann Bouffard. Little did she suspect, however, that the Connecticut headquarters of the famed sports company would remind her so much of her alma mater.
“They call the grounds of the building ‘campus’,” said Bouffard. “Everybody is so close that it has a college atmosphere.”
“The grass at ESPN isn’t as green, and the male to female ratio is working in my favor now,” she said.
Bouffard graduated from Quinnipiac University with a Bachelor of Arts in Mass Communication, with a concentration in print journalism, and Spanish.
At graduation, she received the 2001 Alumni Association Award for the School of Communications, which is awarded to students with the highest GPA in each school at the university. She described her graduation day as one of the best days of her life.
“It was a perfect day,” said Bouffard. “The weather was gorgeous. The sun was shining. You are sitting there and there is such great anticipation. There were butterflies, yet there was also calm because I knew it was over.”
She said the highlight was having her parents on the library stage with her when she was receiving the Alumni Association award.
“Its only because of them and God that I am where I am today,” said Bouffard. “It was great that they could share the moment.”
Bouffard currently has a full-time position as a Production Assistant at ESPN International. She says taking up a Spanish major in college was very helpful to her in the job search.
“My Spanish helped a lot because I wouldn’t have this job without it,” said Bouffard.
Bouffard originally began as a part-time screener, where she would view games or events before they were aired on three ESPN networks. Only a few months into her job, however, the screening department was taken over by another department.
However, she was not asked to leave ESPN’s international division.
“My first department was dissolved,” explained Bouffard. “However, one of the reasons why I was kept at International was because I speak the (Spanish) language.”
As a production assistant, one of the responsibilities of the Oakville, Conn. native is to work with the on-air talent when they record voice-overs in Spanish and Portuguese.
“I help them along the way to make their broadcast better,” said Bouffard.
Bouffard hopes to one day be at the broadcast desk as an anchor. In high school, she would wake up early every morning to Sports Center and watch anchor Kenny Mayne update the latest scores in his own entertaining style.
“I really respect him, because he is a funny witty guy,” Bouffard said.
In fact, one of her most memorable days on the job was when she was unexpectedly approached by Mayne.
“I was taken back, because through the door came Kenny Mayne,” she said.
He introduced himself and conversed with her.
Bouffard will quickly admit that she is living a dream with her job at ESPN.
“It’s unreal,” she said. “I’m talking to the on-air talent like they are my next door neighbors, but they are really famous in other parts of the world.”
“Now I hear Sports Center’s ‘Da Da Da, Da Da Da’ every day of my life, every hour on the hour,” Bouffard added, laughing.
Bouffard decided to send her resume to ESPN after taking some time over the summer of 2001 for herself. At 8 p.m. on a Monday night she e-mailed her resume to the company. By 9 a.m. the next day, she was called in for an interview.
After two interviews, Bouffard was offered her part-time, entry-level position.
“That was fine with me,” said Bouffard. “It will get your foot in the door.”
Bouffard advanced from a part-time to full-time position in only four months.
Having entered her “real world,” days spent dressed “business casual” and often working into the early morning hours, Bouffard does find time to keep in touch with friends.
“IM has come in extremely handy,” she said.
Group e-mails help keep her fellow graduates updated about recent events in her life. She also works to find the time to see them face-to-face.
“I still do things with a lot of my college friends,” she said. “I’m happy to say I haven’t lost any of them.”
For Bouffard, her graduation from Quinnipiac not only signified the end of an era, but also the beginning of a new life outside the confines of books and classrooms. She advises graduating seniors to take the time to recognize the true significance of the event.
“You really want to live in the moment and soak it up,” she said.