What are your job responsibilities/duties?
As publisher of IlliniInquirer.com, I'm in charge of creating and publishing all content for the Illinois 247Sports.com site, which is owned by CBS. I report on and provide analysis on Illinois athletics, especially basketball and football with an emphasis on recruiting
As host of "The Jeremy Werner Show" on ESPN Radio 93.5, I host a 2-hour sports radio show focusing on Illinois athletics and professional sports.
What does a typical day look like?
I spend my mornings juggling my toddler and preparing for the radio show, just getting caught up on the latest headlines and jotting a few thoughts on my Notes app that I want to focus on for the show. I host the show from a studio in my basement, which is great.
After that, the typical day depends on whether Illinois basketball/football have games, practices or there are other events I need to cover. But the rest of the day is basically spent writing, reporting and planning for the web site.
What do you most enjoy about your job?
I got into this business because I wasn't talented enough to play sports at a high level, so I wanted to find a way to still be a part of it. I learned so much about life (teamwork, drive, hard work, etc.) from sports and love to tell others' stories. If I were in another profession, I'd spend so much time focused on sports, so this never feels like real work to me.
What is the most difficult aspect of the job?
Work-life balance. In the age of Twitter and social media, especially with recruiting, I'm never really off the clock There's always something happening and something I need to stay on top of, so with a young family, it's a constant battle to put the phone down but keep it close enough to make sure you're doing your job well.
What on-campus activities were you involved with? Where did you gain relevant experience?
I wrote for the Daily Illini for two years and was a member of the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity, spending a year as the president of the fraternity.
How did your experience at ILLINOIS and in the College of Media prepare you for your professional life? For this specific position?
The College of Media did a great job preparing me for the skills I needed. I was in college as the profession took a huge turn, and the College of Media was at the forefront of pushing us "print" reporters toward being well-rounded multimedia journalists. WIthout the skills -- reporting, page design, photos, etc. -- that I learned in the College of Media, I wouldn't have been prepared for some of the tasks I needed once I got into the real world.
What advice do you have for students interested in this field?
Get internships! The College of Media does a phenomenal job of preparing students, but they can't mirror the pressure and real-world experience that working for a professional media company can provide. I worked for The News-Gazette throughout college, and working for and around professionals for years aided me more than anything. The experience -- and maybe even more so, the connections -- you gain are invaluable. Also, internships allow you to find out what you like and what you don't like. I interned for the sports information department as a sophomore. I enjoyed it and really liked the people but found out that I wanted to go in a different direction. Still, that experience taught me a different perspective of the industry.
Lastly, if you really want to make it in this industry, you better work hard and be flexible in your career path. This industry doesn't pay a lot early and the market is really competitive. You need some talent, but as someone who hires interns, drive and hard work are the top two traits I evaluate. Also, with so few jobs, you got to be willing to take jobs in places you probably didn't imagine yourself working.
What is one thing that you know now that you wish you had known when you started in the field? When you graduated from the College?
I lucked into a mentor who reached out to me. But don't be afraid to ask a professional in your field for advice or to look over some of your work. Most of use received help from someone along the way and would love to continue to pay it forward. That mentorship can aid you in your progress, but it also helps to know someone in the industry. "It's who you know" is so true in any business.