BIO: Name: Jill Mason Family: Husband, Shaun and son, Brock College and Degree: Michigan State University, bachelor’s degree in kinesiology, master’s degree in kinesiology sports administration. Current Employer: Michigan State University Current Position: Director of Events and Spirit Teams As a student athlete, Jill Mason didn’t picture herself standing on the sidelines of Spartan stadium after graduation. But with a bit of soul searching, networking and a lot of hard work, Mason not only stands on the sidelines of her alma mater, she helps pull together events for a stadium full of fans. Mason’s job is truly unique, and one that die-hard Spartan fans would drool over. She didn’t always see her self leading a crowd of thousands. Mason had a little smaller crowd in mind when she traveled from California to attend Michigan State University (MSU). “My major when I started was elementary education for the deaf, but after my first teaching class I decided it wasn’t for me. Then it was physical education, then I thought maybe nursing, I didn’t really know. While I was trying to decide what I wanted to do, a job came up, and I took it,” said Mason. Mason landed a job with MSU’s athletics sales and marketing team after graduating thanks to an old professor who threw her name in for the position. After 10 years promoting athletics, Mason was looking for a change, and now works to run the show as Director of Events and Spirit Teams. “I guess when you’re in it, it is all very black and white. I have to prepare the facilities, assist the visiting teams, work with the referees and officials … but when I sit back and look at it, my job is very cool,” said Mason. Two things make Mason love her job: her team (her coworkers, not the Spartans, although she loves them, too) and the chance to be part of something bigger than herself. “My team members and I are in the background and always going, but when you work like that you don’t realize how big it is until someone points it out to you,” she said. “It’s a great feeling being part of something bigger than you.” But with a job that requires her full attention during the week and every weekend starting in September (except one Sunday, she notes), Mason had to build a team of her own to find balance in her life. “My husband and I have built our ‘village,’” said Mason. “We have lots of friends who support us and family that helps whenever they can … My husband and I make a great team, we are good at communicating and figuring out what works for us.” And although not typical, what works for Mason, husband Shaun and son Brock is hanging out on the sidelines on Saturdays. “My son thinks it’s the coolest thing ever, but he doesn’t realize that this is not typical,” said Mason. “He doesn’t understand (that) not everyone gets to go on the field or hang out in the locker room.” The variety included in her job is what keeps Mason excited about what she does. Mason not only covers football events but helps to coordinate events for five other varsity sports including: field hockey, wrestling, women’s basketball, cross-country and baseball. Having to keep up with so many sporting events has taught Mason the value in knowing how to handle situations when thing don’t go as planned. “The most challenging part of my job is when things go awry. You have to be able to work through them,” she said. “You don’t have time to freak out, you have to figure out what the problem is, what the solution is and then just keep going.” Luckily, Mason doesn’t shy away from a challenge. She believes hard work has given her the opportunity to do what she loves and hold a position that Spartan fans everywhere could only dream of. “I think if you work hard your time will come. You don’t always have to push to make things happen, just put your nose to the grindstone, do your job and good things will happen,” said Mason. Mason has done just that; she was given an opportunity and did everything she could to earn her position. Hard work and networking early on have landed Mason in a place she never expected. Mason’s advice to those looking to find something they love is simple. “Start early and do something. Get an internship, or set up meetings just to ask questions,” she said. “People are so willing to share their experiences with you, but have to go out and ask them. The worst thing you can do is wait until it’s too late.”
Ami Iceman-Hauter is the Brand Manager at M3 Group in downtown Lansing. Iceman is a graduate of Michigan State University with a bachelors degree in creative advertising.