During Thanksgiving, when many of us are recovering from turkey hangovers, Beverly Pham ’18 is usually hard at work. The same goes on Christmas, New Year’s Eve and countless other evenings and weekends throughout the year. As an editorial designer at Fox Sports, she creates the network’s web and social media graphics for all major events on the sports calendar, from the Super Bowl to the Final Four. As fans tailgate or watch games at sports bars, industry pros like Pham are on the job.
“Working in sports definitely sounds sexy, but you have to make a lot of sacrifices,” she says. “But the flip side is, you get to be doing really exciting things and you get to work on something you’re really passionate about. It is a tough industry to break into because who wouldn’t want to watch sports while you work?”
Beverly Pham interned at USC Athletics, Fox Sports West and Snapchat — but she still worried about breaking into the sports media industry.
Pham jumped into the industry after she graduated from the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism three years ago. Even with several internships and jobs under her belt as a journalism student — she had stints at USC Athletics, Fox Sports West and Snapchat, to name a few — she knew landing a dream job in sports would be tough. A board member of the USC Alumni Association’s Orange County Regional Advisory Group, Pham recently spoke about her work experiences during Industry Office Hours, an online career networking series presented by USCAA. For young alumni wondering how to find a job as a new graduate, she shares some job-hunting tips and lessons she has learned on her career journey.
What does an editorial designer do?
At Fox Sports, we launched the all-new Fox Sports app and website last July. I was the first editorial designer on that team, and basically every day I create custom editorial artwork and illustrations for the front page of foxsports.com and the Fox Sports app. I also design thematic homepage spreads for marquee events like the MLB World Series, NBA Finals or the Super Bowl. In addition to creating story cover art, I sometimes work on in-line artwork, newsletter art and social media graphics for our other live event properties and platforms on an as-needed basis.
Did you always plan on going into sports media?
I wrote about my high school football team on my college application to USC, actually, so I always kind of wanted to go in that direction. I did consider local and hard news for a little bit, but I like sports because it’s really exciting and entertaining and L.A. has such a strong sports scene. I grew up in Orange County, so I was always rooting for the Lakers and the Dodgers. I always rooted for USC football, too, since there was no NFL team when I was growing up. USC was always my dream school, in part because of the communications and journalism program but also because of the athletics history and overall campus. I always wanted to go here, and that’s what I wrote about in my essay. So, I guess everyone saw this coming.
What are some job-hunting tips for recent graduates?
Don’t get discouraged. When I started out, I had a spreadsheet to keep track of all my job applications. It was crazy how many places I applied to and didn’t hear back from. I think a lot of people just need to be reminded that it’s not a discouragement. It’s totally common and normal. It’s hard to recognize that when you’re first graduating and applying to a hundred jobs and only hearing back from a couple.
Also, try not to limit yourself in where you apply. Think about how your skillset can be applied across various industries and companies. By using a wider variety of keywords, you may stumble upon a job posting or opportunity you wouldn’t have previously thought of — or even knew existed. And look for people who are where you want to eventually be and follow their path to how they got there. I like to use LinkedIn to look at people’s profiles and see what past jobs they held. You can pretty much exactly trace the path they took to get where they are.
Getting your resume reviewed professionally is helpful, too. USC and Annenberg have great resources and counselors ready to help you! I think a lot of people’s resumes when they first graduate might not be the most polished thing in the world because there’s not as much experience on there. But portraying yourself as the best possible candidate through your resume is your first line of defense. It’s so important to fit everything on one page that really tells the entire story of who you are. If you have the time, and if you’re applying to a certain job that you really want, taking the time to personalize that cover letter is really important.
How did you deal with setbacks during your job hunt?
When I was still in college, I applied to intern at Fox so many times and never heard back. But now I work there, so all you need is for one person to say “Yes!” It sounds cliché, but the whole USC “Fight On” thing is super true to my journey. Persevering and not giving up has really gotten me to places that I didn’t think I could go.
When I had setbacks looking for a job, I just doubled down and tried harder to make myself a better candidate. I think it’s important in a creative field to be a multidisciplinary creative and make yourself as versatile and valuable to an employer as possible. Because if you just pigeonhole yourself to one specialty, that’s going to close off a lot of other opportunities. I dabbled in creative fields like graphic design and video editing, so I wasn’t limited to just reporter jobs.
Getting experience in a little bit of everything has also really helped me become a better designer overall. Working for Snapchat, working on the tech side and designing for a mobile app — that’s all definitely been helpful now that we’ve launched our own app at Fox. So, all kinds of experiences have been useful in my current job as a designer.
How did you gain job experience as a student?
A lot of coursework that I did at Annenberg helped me prepare for real-world experience. Some of my favorite classes were “Sports Commentary” and “Sports Public Relations.” My sports PR class was taught by Jeff Moeller, L.A. Kings PR director, and we’d go with him to games. We went to Kings, Dodgers, Clippers and Lakers games, and we got to sit in the press conference afterward with all the media members. And that was cool to see as a student how things operated. I thought that was a great opportunity and probably one of my favorite experiences that you really can’t get anywhere other than USC. I got a lot of great real-world experience in my coursework and working for Annenberg Media and ATVN [Annenberg TV News], too.
Now that you have a job, how do you continue to learn and grow?
Working in the creative field, you encounter a lot of potential burnout. It’s hard coming up with a bunch of original ideas every single day and then waking up and going through it all over again. Taking care of your own mental health and making sure to give yourself breaks whenever possible is important, and so is finding sources of inspiration to just keep yourself going.
Another thing I try to live by is to avoid becoming complacent with my skills. It is really competitive, so you have to keep up with the latest trends — whether it’s design or social media — and be in tune with the general social conversation. I’m trying to learn different things every week. I was a journalism major, not an art major, so I don’t have that traditional art background. I’m always trying to learn new things, like illustration, new design tricks or new software. Not being complacent with where you’re at is really important in order to keep growing.
Editor’s note: This interview has been lightly edited for clarity and length.