Branden Enstrom ’17 believes in the power of receiving a master of arts in business with a specialization in intercollegiate athletic administration (MAIAA) degree from the University of Nebraska–Lincoln. As a student, he seized opportunities to grow and build his network. He credits his connections along with practical experience he received along the way to helping him land his new job as director of softball operations at Stanford University.
The MAIAA prepares students for a career in athletics as a joint program between the College of Business and the Nebraska Department of Athletics. Guaranteed graduate assistantships with Husker Athletics give students valuable insight and practice in the industry which help students like Enstrom in the highly competitive job market.
“I had a graduate assistantship my first year with campus recreation, which covered my tuition, provided a monthly stipend and covered a percentage of my health insurance,” said Enstrom. “The second year I had an assistantship in athletics, but had to pay my tuition. Former College of Business Dean Donde Plowman and I discussed a plan to get MAIAA students funding.”
That discussion led to MAIAA students receiving a tuition waiver, stipend and health insurance coverage. The additional benefits for accepted students not only positively impacted the program but they also increased the already strong interest from applicants across the country.
“Competition to get a job is tough so you can never be above any position, especially in the athletics industry,” said Enstrom. “After graduation, I took an internship opportunity with the Oregon ticket office for three months. Then I received a call from Head Softball Coach Jessica Allister at Stanford University. She asked me if I would be interested in coming to work as their director of softball operations and I asked, ‘When do I start?’”
In his Stanford position, Enstrom handles everything not involved with on-field coaching. He works on recruiting materials, handles the recruiting and travel budget, procures equipment for the team and books all transportation arrangements. One of the biggest lessons learned at Nebraska was the importance of building a network, as his connection with Stanford Coach Jessica Allister proved to be key in his hiring.
“Then an assistant coach at Oregon, Jessica Allister recruited my girlfriend to play for her,” said Enstrom. “Allister then took the head coaching job at Minnesota the following year and my girlfriend became a graduate assistant on her staff at Minnesota. Coach knew me and when she got the job at Stanford, she asked me to join her and the rest is history.”
Enstrom still plans to be an athletics director at a major university, but for now he focuses on taking advantage of every opportunity to learn and grow in his new position.
“I am a big believer that everything happens for a reason,” said Enstrom. “Sometimes where you get your start in this industry is not the place you planned on going. You can never be above anything and should always keep in mind that someone is trying to outwork you, so you have to outwork yourself.”
Applications for the 2018 cohort are due February 1. For more information, visit: http://business.unl.edu/maiaa