A Nuclear Engineer in Baseball

After a dream-come-true internship with my favorite professional baseball team, it’s great to take a look back at how exactly I got to this point—and how it really is possible to follow your passions at a b-school like Chicago Booth.

After five years as an Officer in the US Navy and two additional years as a Department of Defense employee, it was time to pivot. I enjoyed these years at the Washington Navy Yard in DC supporting the Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program (i.e. nuclear-powered submarines and aircraft carriers), but I no longer wanted to be an engineer. I wasn’t super thrilled about working for the Government long-term either. I applied to a number of jobs across a number of industries, but nothing I was super passionate about. What the heck am I passionate about?

Well, I have an irrational passion for sports. I was raised in Maryland, went to the University of Maryland, and lived in DC these past seven years. From living in the DMV my entire life, I (unfortunately) am a fan of the local teams: Capitals, Terps, Nationals, Wizards, DC United, even the lowly Redskins. I stormed the court against Duke, attended the Caps Stanley Cup parade, flew to Austin to watch the Terps crush Texas. You get the point. 

Sure, I would love to work for one of these organizations, but how does anyone even do that? 

I tried to connect with people in the sports industry through LinkedIn and my veteran network, to no avail. So mid-fall of 2017, I transitioned from applying to jobs to applying to business schools. At the time, it seemed like a perfect time to quit my gainful employment, make no income, and take on some debt… I did just have a daughter a couple months before. 

Several months later, I attended a Booth Live event where there was a panel of second years discussing their summer internship experiences, “I spent my summer working with the Washington Nationals.” Say what? I could leverage my MBA to get into sports, specifically for a team that I root for. I was sold on getting an MBA and sold on going to Booth, assuming I got in, of course. 

Once admitted into Booth, I reached out to the (then) second year to get the scoop on how to get the Nationals internship. As soon as I got to campus that fall, she connected me with the two Booth alums that worked at the Nationals and told me the classes that I should take to be best prepared for the internship. 

So less than one year after leaving DC, I returned as a Business Strategy and Analytics intern half a mile west of where I had worked for the previous seven years. 

The NL Wild Card Washington Nationals

Going to the stadium to work each day was indescribable—it was like attending my first baseball game over and over again. There were some sweet perks to the job, too. On non-day games, I could run laps around the field and use the weight room to work out. I could attend any home game I wanted. I was even encouraged to catch a couple innings if a game was during working hours. And one of the coolest experiences, I think, was getting to play Top Golf inside the stadium while on the clock. It was pretty awesome.

Although it was a great summer, there were some challenges to this non-traditional path. First, I didn’t get my internship offer until the end of March. That is not a lot of time to plan a move for a family. Second, pay is on the lower side, think minimum wage. Classic supply-demand, I guess. Lastly and unfortunately, the Nationals—like most sports teams—only do just-in-time hiring. So looks like it’s back to the recruiting grind for me. But don’t worry, my next dream job is out there, maybe this time it’ll be with a sports team in Chicago. 

P.S. Nats just beat the Brewers in the NL Wild Card game. Let’s go!!

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