Alumna ready for NFL season in digital, social media role

(Editor's note: This is the 15th in a series of stories about students in the Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications completing summer internships.)

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — For the first time in two years, Jill Beckman will watch Penn State football on Saturdays as a fan, not as a reporter. But on Sundays, it’s all business.

The recent Bellisario College graduate is spending the football season in Tampa completing a postgraduate internship focused on digital and social media with the NFL’s Buccaneers. After earning her journalism degree in May, Beckman joined the team in July and began chronicling the behind-the-scenes drama of training camp.

While players, from the rookies to the veterans, fought for a spot on the team’s roster, Beckman was on the sidelines sharing the events with the team’s immense online community — 242,000 followers on Instagram, 750,000 followers on Twitter, and nearly 1 million likes on Facebook.

“I handle duties on all the platforms,” Beckman said. “We run livestreams of interviews every day at training camp. I make photo galleries. We get all of this content to our fans in the most engaging way possible and try to relate our players with the fan base.”

Beckman has loved sports her entire life. Growing up in south New Jersey, she is a fan of the Philadelphia sports teams. She took a journalism class her sophomore year of high school, and quickly fell in love with communications. Her two interests started to blend, and she spent her final three years of high school writing for the school’s newspaper before making her way to Penn State.

Beckman has several Penn State alumni in her family, including her father. She frequented many football games growing up, but one classic game in October 2013 was particularly memorable and life-changing. It was a beautiful autumn evening in Happy Valley and Penn State was playing Big Ten rival Michigan.

“I remember being at the game with all of the excitement and the stands shaking,” Beckman said. “It was so much fun.”

The Nittany Lions needed four overtimes to defeat the Wolverines, but Beckman just needed that one thrilling game to decide where to go to college.

“I looked over at the student section and thought, ‘I need to be there,’” she said. “It was over. I knew I had to be at Penn State.”

Beckman enjoyed games from the Beaver Stadium student section the following two seasons before moving to the press box her junior and senior years. She covered home games as an intern for the Reading Eagle in 2016 and Philadelphia Inquirer in 2017. Something started to click.

“I’ve been a football fan for a long time, but I didn’t know I wanted to work in football until the past two years,” she said. “I decided this is what I want to do. Being around football every day is a dream job for me.”

Bellisario College Dean Marie Hardin said Beckman was a “go-getter” the moment she stepped on campus. She said Beckman is a student who always found new challenges to tackle throughout her college career.

“I have always been impressed with Jill’s talent, but even more so her work ethic,” Hardin said. “Her success is a model for other students who are interested in success in this highly competitive field.”

As a senior this past February, Beckman was one of five Bellisario College students who covered the Super Bowl for the NFL’s communications department. Her family was jealous to see her on the field with the champion Philadelphia Eagles, and while she soaked in the excitement and savored the experience, Beckman had another game plan in mind.

“I wanted to make connections,” she said.

Beckman made it a point to reach out to every team in the league. After a nice conversation, she “got a good vibe” from the Buccaneers. A position with the franchise opened in the team’s digital and social media department. It looked like a good fit.

“I applied, and I got it. It worked perfectly,” Beckman said.

Hardin said she encourages students to take advantage of the vast Penn State and Bellisario College alumni networks. Beckman continues to do so and is seeing results.

“Jill follows up with contacts, shares her goals and asks for help,” Hardin said. “She is focused and always open to new possibilities.”

Beckman will be interning in Tampa throughout the NFL season, which for the Buccaneers begins Sept. 9 against the New Orleans Saints.

On Sept. 1, she’ll be watching the Nittany Lions play the Appalachian State Mountaineers on a TV in Tampa. During the game she plans to trade texts with her classmates and former colleagues she shared the Beaver Stadium press room with as student.

“I met so many great friends covering Penn State football,” she said. “We became so close working in the press box every week, and I know I’ll have those friendships for a long time. We still talk about Penn State football every day. It’s a really nice experience.”

As for future goals, Beckman said she likes working in the department she is in now and hopes to be around football for a long time. Also, she wouldn’t mind watching the Nittany Lions play in person this year — perhaps in Miami at the Orange Bowl.

Last Updated August 28, 2018