J.J. Jones’ college sports internship with ESPN this summer isn’t his first exposure to big-time college athletics.
The former University of Oregon running back is a programming intern who has been helping the department prepare for college coach visits to the Bristol, Conn., campus in late July, as well as the coming football season’s television scheduling.
Though Jones’ firsthand knowledge of the sport proves to be useful, it’s also his work ethic that has an impact on his efforts. The Los Angeles native didn’t make Oregon’s football team his freshman year, but through determination and hard work, he earned a spot as a walk-on the following three years.
Now, he is spending his last summer as a student in Bristol instead of on the field. Jones will return to Oregon to complete his MBA in Finance.
How did being a student-athlete prepare you for your ESPN internship?
I think the biggest thing that has helped is time management and being uncomfortable. When you’re a student-athlete, you have to juggle practices, part-time jobs, as well as staying on top of your schoolwork. Often, you’re put in different situations that you may not have known before because the transition from high school to college is completely different, so you have to be able to be coachable and be able to learn a new system you may not know everything about.
What have you, in turn, learned here at ESPN that you can apply in your last year at Oregon?
I think the biggest thing I can take away is the philosophy that every experience is a good experience. A lot of people in my department started off in various parts of the company or various sports organizations, and they ended up here in programming. I think the biggest thing I can take away is to take everything you can and do everything you can to get exposed to as many parts of the company as possible to gain real-world experience.
What does it mean to you to have this internship?
I am one of the first males in my family to go to college, so everything I do, whether it was walking on the football team, graduating from college, going to grad school or getting an internship at ESPN, I always use that as an example for the younger kids in my family. We all grew up the same, but this is what you can achieve if you have goals and if you work for it.