By: Anthony Rizzo, Living Sport Milan 2017 Participant & Ticket Operations Assistant, University of North Carolina at Charlotte
“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I-I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.” For those unfamiliar with poetry, this statement comes from the great Robert Frost and his poem “The Road Not Taken.” The message of this poem is simple: choose to be different and shy away from what everyone else does.
Taking a chance on a new company, traveling across the world with complete strangers, and committing a large amount of money to the program, all for the purpose of trying to stand out? That sounds different to me.
When I submitted my application to Living Sport and explained the opportunity to my parents, one of the first questions my dad asked me was, “Why do you want to do this?”. At that point, and still to this day, there were two answers I could give him. Answer one was that I really wanted to travel to Italy. In the past two years, I had been to London and Paris. I was on a streak of international trips and I did not want that to end. When the opportunity presented itself to travel to Italy, I was beyond excited because, even though I had enjoyed the previous two trips, Italy was the one place I really wanted to travel to. The main reason was to experience my Italian roots and visit the country my ancestors had come from. I also wanted to visit Italy because I had heard it was beautiful (and I was not disappointed).
This, however, was not the answer I gave my father, or at least not the response I gave first. I knew the desire to go on a vacation would not convince him to allow it. I knew I needed something better, and luckily I had another reason that meant even more to me; my career.
The sports industry has always been described to me as being “tight-knit” and “hard to get in to”. The common takeaway from networking sessions and presentations is that getting a job in sports is “all about who you know not what you know”. As I progressed through my undergraduate career and started to apply to more competitive internship programs and entry-level jobs, I saw these rumors become a reality. To compete for these positions, I learned that you need to be different from the other applicants. You need to have a specific experience or a well-known company listed that catches the eye of the hiring manager and gets your resume pulled from the massive pile.
When I received the email notification about the position, I knew the Living Sport experience in Milan, Italy would be my something different.
I saw this program as a set of opportunities. First, it was the opportunity to travel to a new country. Second, it was the opportunity to work and experience a new sport. I had no prior experience around the sport of cycling, and had no prior knowledge of the Red Hook Criterium. Therefore, anything that we did during the event would be new for me and something that I could take back to the U.S. Third, this trip was an opportunity to make memories and connections with a group of complete strangers, all of which were in the same shoes as myself. When I traveled to Paris the year prior, it was with a group of fellow Queens students that I had gotten to know throughout the semester. Unfortunately, we all had different interests and majors, so there was no focus on sports or casual conversation about it. I knew the Living Sport program would be different because, even though we were strangers, we all had one thing in common; a love of sports. Therefore, I wanted to come away from this experience with a new outlook on my career, and new people I could bounce job and internship ideas off of.
I went into this trip expecting these three things, but I left with so much more. I left with new lifelong friends and memories, a new perspective of the world and international sports, a newfound love for the game of soccer, and most importantly, the something different for my resume. While I hope my experience in Milan continues to separate me from the rest of applicants, regardless, it gives me an amazing story to bring up in any interview I go through. It is not every day that you find an applicant willing to travel halfway around the world to gain experience, but I was.
On October 9, 2017, myself and 15 other college students and recent graduates, chose to take the road less traveled when we boarded the plane to Milan, Italy. Only time can tell where that road will continue to take us.
“Two roads diverged in a wood and WE-WE took the one less traveled by”.