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Lax In The City – 6.15.12

Jun 15, 2012, 2:59 PM EDT

Notre Dame rising senior women’s lacrosse player Emily Conner has a dream internship for a sports fan this summer, as she is interning with ESPN in New York City in its Marketing & Sales department. Within the department, the Alexandria, Va., native works on the asset management team in the consumer marketing solutions department. The 10-week internship will offer Conner a chance to explore the fourth biggest city in the world, while working for The Worldwide Leader In Sports. Conner graciously volunteered to keep a weekly blog for Irish UNDerground, which will offer a small glimpse into her busy life this summer. Here is the second entry in the summer series: Lax In The City.

As I sat there with at least a hundred lunch orders, a telephone number and a corporate credit card on my desk, all I could think was “don’t screw this up!” If there is one thing I’ve learned working at ESPN the past two weeks, it’s that the employees care about sports almost as much as they care about food. So as employees continue to file into my office giving me their orders and wishing me good luck, I start to feel a sense of responsibility. This is what interns are supposed to be good at – now is my time to shine. As I picked up the phone, I put on my most confident voice as I said, “Hi, I need to place a LARGE order…” Forty minutes later I put down the receiver and breathed a sigh of relief.

Now some of you may not understand why I consider this a pressure-packed situation. While it was by far the least important task I’ve had since being here, I still find it more difficult than “crunching numbers” – according to the Intern Orientation, this is what I do. If you know me, my job description should come as quite a surprise! Compiling advertisement prices and emerging property proposals for the upcoming quarter is easier for me because there is what people politely call a “learning curve” (i.e. low expectations). This is the same reason why my freshman lacrosse season at Notre Dame was probably the easiest for me. I was not better as a freshman than I am now; I just wasn’t expected to know everything.

I’m the type of person who relishes being the underdog. I love going up against teams like Northwestern (winners of seven of the last eight national titles) because they allow me to play with a ‘nothing to lose and everything to gain’ mentality. That same mentality gets me excited when I’m given projects for my internship that I know are going to challenge me. Of course, failure is always a possibility, but reality doesn’t stop me from savoring the opportunity. As ridiculous as it may sound, I love climbing mountains, but I’m terrified of molehills.

Over the years, I’ve learned that low expectations can be incredibly empowering, as long as you never doubt yourself. In my opinion, low expectations are the reason the Oklahoma City Thunder has made it all the way to the NBA Finals. They were given nothing to lose which made their success that much more surprising and motivating. It also does not hurt that Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook have been filthy all year. When it comes down to it, those athletes knew they could do it. The world was just skeptical. Every day, people like me watch SportsCenter to hear stories of athletes who overcame a world of doubt to make it on to that coveted platform. We work our hardest in practice in order to be one of those people who defy the odds and end the season with a bigger number on the left side of the column than the right.

Moving to New York City to intern at ESPN has allowed me to step out of my comfort zone and given me opportunities that I never thought I would have. As you can imagine, I love each and every day because I get to prove to my coworkers and myself that I have what it takes to make it in this business. Still, it is times like placing food orders that I realize just how much I still have to overcome about myself in order to truly be successful. I have to stop being afraid of the things I’m good at. While low expectations can be empowering, sometimes you have to learn to thrive on high expectations as well. If you cannot do that then you will never fully reach your potential. You don’t want to be LeBron James at the end of the 2011 NBA Finals, knowing as the best player in the NBA, you let a mental block get between you and your ultimate goal. (Not going to lie, I hope he does it again.)

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