Growing up, we constantly hear from parents, mentors, and teachers, “You can be anything you want to be.” Often when we arrive at college, or are near graduating, we see obstacles as daunting challenges in getting from where we are to where we want to be. So, how do you get to where you want to be when the path doesn’t seem clear cut? What if no one like you has made waves in your desired field? How do you overcome the hurdles and trail-blaze the path yourself?
Kate Scott ’05 is familiar with taking the road less traveled, as her passion for sports journalism led her to being Cal’s first female “mic man” during Cal football and basketball games.1 Over the years, she worked her way up, paving the way for women in the sports journalism world as the third woman to do play-by-play for the NFL, the first woman to call an NFL game on the radio, and the first woman to call football on Pac-12 Networks.2 The Cal Alumni Association (CAA) sat down with Scott in 2017 to find out more about her journey from first “mic woman” to calling NFL and Pac-12 games, and to get tips for recent graduates facing the unpaved road ahead.
We first asked Scott what advice she would give to a young woman who one day wants to be like her. Without hesitation, Scott told us that attending Cal and making connections during her four years was extremely impactful for her, as it helped her get the interview that would eventually lead to her first job in the industry as a radio traffic reporter. She also encouraged students to get internships and reach out to those working in the field they are interested in, stating, “Going for things is a big part of how I’ve gotten to where I am today.” She added, “Nothing has been given to me, and I haven’t waited for anything to come to me, and I think that can apply to any industry, not just sports broadcasting. If you see something you want to do, ask how you get an opportunity to do that, and then ask where you start to eventually get to do that.” Scott’s advice is one students often hear about the importance of networking, but many don’t know where to begin. LinkedIn is a great tool for reaching out to others in your desired industry, as is the Berkeley Career Network, a networking tool exclusively for UC Berkeley students and alumni.
Scott also emphasized that it’s normal not to know where to begin, or to change your passions along the way. When forging your career path, Scott said, “Getting to the end of that journey or the end of that path is always a lot more crooked or confusing than you think at the start. So do something you love, follow your passion; if that passion changes follow the new passion and just keep working hard. Keep asking questions all the way.” In other words, don’t give up quickly when the unexpected happens, and learn to embrace the unknown. There is no “one way” to get to where you want to be, and you must become adaptable, open, and eager in order to get there.
Asked if she ever thought she’d be where she is today, Scott replied, “Not really, to tell you the truth!” Scott originally saw herself as more of a writer, envisioning a future as a print journalist. Then one day, she saw someone on the basketball court at Cal with a camera and asked them what they were filming for. It turns out they were filming for a Cal highlight show, so, as a sports enthusiast, Scott asked if she could help. It wasn’t until a few years after graduating from Cal that she actually began doing play-by-play, which is now her passion. Scott admits when she was at Cal she did not think it was possible for a woman to call a football game, which is something she recently got the opportunity to do.
“One of my favorite things is when people tell me ‘you can’t.’ Or, ‘You shouldn’t.’ Or, ‘You won’t.’ I just pause and let them finish, and then I look them in the eye and say ‘watch me.’”
When asked how being a woman in a male-dominated industry has impacted her, Scott said, “[Women in] every industry, we have to be smarter and often times better at what we do to get equal treatment, and it stinks that that’s the truth, but you can either avoid the truth, or figure out how to deal with it and succeed in spite of it.” Scott does not see challenges as something that prevents her from succeeding, but instead deals with them with a sense of defiant determination, “I think that it’s a sad truth, but it’s still the reality in 2017 that [women] do have to work harder and smarter. I actually take a lot of pride in that because it’s just to me one more challenge, and I love challenges…There’s always some challenge out there, so that’s one of my favorite parts of actually working, figuring those things out and then succeeding in spite of them.”
No matter what hurdles you encounter in your pursuit of your dream job, you must be persistent and passionate in order to persevere. There may be people along the way who say you cannot accomplish your dreams because of x, y, and z, yet the best thing you can do is not let their words deter you. We asked Scott what her favorite comeback was for someone who says she can’t, and she responded, “Watch me.” Scott continued, “One of my favorite things is when people tell me ‘you can’t.’ Or, ‘You shouldn’t.’ Or, ‘You won’t.’ I just pause and let them finish, and then I look them in the eye and say ‘watch me.’”
Posted on January 15, 2019 - 9:00am