For Taylor Berry, athletics became more than just a game, but a lifestyle. Wanting to apply the teamwork and perseverance learned playing collegiate softball to a career, Berry wondered about her next move.
Coming from the University of Wisconsin–Madison, Berry took a year off after graduating to look at master’s programs and consider career paths. The Muscatine, Iowa native, talked to a mentor who encouraged her to apply for the Master of Arts in Business with a Specialization in Intercollegiate Athletics Administration program at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln.
“Once I got accepted, it wasn’t a hard decision to come here because of the program’s attributes – like the guaranteed internships and cohort community,” Berry said.
Since starting the program, Berry pushed herself to get the most out of it. She quickly met with multiple administrators at Nebraska Athletics. Capitalizing on her first-year graduate assistantship, she sharpened skills in marketing, design and social media by working closely with colleagues in the college’s Communications, Marketing and External Relations office.
Berry also competed for Nebraska on a team of MAIAA students at the National Sports Forum Case Cup Competition where the team took second place in the nation with their #LetsGetWeird campaign for the Las Vegas Lights, a United Soccer League team known for their zany but effective marketing strategies.
These experiences led Berry to a successful year one in the program. However, she stood at another crossroad: she needed to decide what area in athletics administration to pursue. Because of her natural skill set in building relationships, she found a mentor at Nebraska to help guide her career path.
Dr. Kasey Linde, assistant director of the Teaching and Learning Center, connected Berry’s talents to different paths in athletics. Previously working as a coach and in fundraising for an athletic department, Linde helped her deduce where her skills would be best put to use. Berry set her sights on fundraising and development from there.
“In fundraising, building close relationships in a short amount of time often determines your success,” Linde said, “The fact that Taylor can meet someone for the first time and walk away with that person feeling as though they have been life-long friends is a fantastic quality.”
Berry gained experience in fundraising this spring working with Doane College in Crete, Nebraska, and secured an internship in fundraising with the Panther Scholarship Club at the University of Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls for the summer. She also volunteered at different athletic events and networked at conferences like the 2019 Women’s Leadership Symposium in Kansas City, Missouri.
By building a portfolio of experiences beyond the classroom, she felt prepared when interviewing for her second year graduate assistantship role in Nebraska Athletics Events and Hospitality. She found out in May she earned the internship for next fall.
“I started the program not knowing what my next step would be, and I’m walking away from my first year with a career choice that reflects my passion. I’m excited for the experiences ahead of me.” Berry said.
To learn more about the MAIAA program, visit https://business.unl.edu/maiaa.