Erin Pellegrino with her mentor Art Berke at the WISE Within NYC Metro kick-off session.
I don’t have all the answers, and when I applied to WISE Within, I was in search of some.
I had spent 11 years working within the National Football League — four with the New York Giants, followed by seven at the league office. I had worked 10 Super Bowls, seven Pro Bowls and six International Series games as well as countless other events, gaining experience in public relations, international business and special events. I had traveled more than I ever imagined possible and had some truly incredible experiences. But more recently, life had thrown me some curves. I was struggling to get to the next level professionally and suffered some serious personal losses, including the death of my oldest brother.
Looking for a Fresh Start
I wanted a fresh start and a new challenge, but was alarmed at how much trouble I was having finding the right one, especially since I never expected to want to pursue a path outside the NFL. I had grown up around the game and even coached men’s football at the University at Albany. As one of the only girls in a large Irish Catholic family, I had always been comfortable in male-dominated environments. But something had changed, and I wanted the advice and perspective of other women who may have had similar experiences and could help me navigate toward success.
I was excited when I was accepted into the program, although surprised to hear I was going to be partnered with a man. It is Women in Sports and Events, after all. I had been paired with someone I already knew — a former boss from Sports Illustrated, where I interned during college — I was thrilled.
WISE Within Provides Support
Our familiarity made it possible to get right into the thick of what was happening. I can be really hard on myself and he encouraged me to re-evaluate that. He helped me objectively assess my work and abilities and gave me the confidence to step outside of my comfort zone professionally. He also encouraged me to begin pursuing my writing more seriously, which has been a tremendous gift.
I learned a great deal from our monthly meetings. I also benefited from the WISE Within group sessions we went to together, often taking notes, which I still reference today.
The year of our mentorship turned out to be a very eventful one. I got married, found a fantastic new job, accepted an offer to return working the New York Giants home games and one to work a few more for NBC’s Sunday Night Football team, started my own blog and made some incredible connections with the other women at WISE.
Stereotypes may suggest that professional women don’t support each other enough, but WISE is a shining example of how untrue that is. There are many extremely successful, smart women who will go out of their way for others. The trick is showing up, doing the work, accepting that you don’t have all the answers and asking for help when you need it.
About Erin Casey Pellegrino
A three-sport athlete and NCAA men's football coach, Erin Pellegrino spent 12 years with the National Football League, including four with the New York Giants and eight with the league office before accepting her current position as director of marketing and communications for Sesame Street. She is responsible for creating multiplatform non-profit campaigns that drive brand strength and awareness and providing strategic and creative direction for business development and licensing. Pellegrino continues to work NFL games for the Giants and NBC Sports and has been a member of WISE since 2011.
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