Our Stories

Making Her Play in Sports Marketing

MMark equips Shelby Burnette to pursue her career passion

Shelby Burnette
Manager of E-Commerce & CRM, Penn State

Vanderbilt Master of Marketing 2021

As she describes it, Shelby Burnette “found my niche” in collegiate sports marketing during a college internship. She also realized that she would need a stronger background in marketing, particularly digital marketing, to complement her understanding of the sports industry.

“I looked at a lot of programs,” she says. “I called 20 different schools. Vanderbilt provided me with all the opportunities I was looking for—a top-notch marketing education, opportunities to work in the field while I continued my studies, and tons of support in professional and leadership development.”

But what really sold her, Shelby says, were qualities that aren’t quantifiable. “From my first call with Suzanne Feinstein, I felt like Vanderbilt truly cared about my development and interests. It truly set the standard for my search. Talking to Suzanne opened my eyes to all the other things that a graduate school could provide for me, such as the Career Management Center, the Leadership Development Program, and a host of distinguished alumni who are eager to help. You can make any education useful, but not every school is as interested in your personal development as Vanderbilt is.”

Her initial impression of Vanderbilt was borne out by her experience with the people here. “Anytime I have a question, I know I can ask Suzanne, and if she doesn’t know the answer, she will point me to the right person,” Shelby says. “Even with COVID-19 and online school, my professors have been so warm and willing to help—academically, professionally, and personally. I had three wonderful professors in my first mod—Steve Posavac, Jenny Escalas, and Dave Owens—and they all took a personal interest in my desired career path. They provided opportunities for us to explore our interests through the curriculum, and they were always willing to talk outside of class hours, whether through Zoom calls or email, to help me with any challenges I had with class assignments, group dynamics, or worries about my performance.”

Fun Fact: Shelby has worked in sports marketing for five different universities: the University of South Carolina (her alma mater), Mississippi State University, Wake Forest, the US Naval Academy, and Vanderbilt.

You can make any education useful, but not every school is as interested in your personal development as Vanderbilt is.