ALUMNI INTERVIEW: I Was an Economics Major, Now I Oversee Tennis Channel’s TV & Digital Businesses

Meet Tom Wilhelm ’11, Sr. Manager, Programming & Acquisitions at Tennis Channel.

In one sentence, what does your job entail?

I currently oversee Tennis Channel’s TV and digital businesses which includes managing relationships with tennis partners, negotiating broadcast rights agreements and establishing efficient broadcast schedules across TV and Digital.

What planned and unplanned events connected you to your industry and your first employer after Holy Cross? How did you learn/decide it was a good fit for you?

For the first three years at Holy Cross, I was on track for a career in the financial services. I had internships at the New York Stock Exchange and Merrill Lynch. And although I enjoyed my time at these places, I knew there was something out there that I would enjoy a little more. I quickly realized that I wanted to incorporate my passion of sports into a career. As an extracurricular activity at Holy Cross, I assisted the Holy Cross Athletics Department with its business needs. And although I had only viewed this experience as an extracurricular one at first, I actually loved the work that I did. When I arrived on campus for my senior year, I constantly networked with the Holy Cross community. Additionally, I made weekly trips to ESPN’s headquarters in Bristol, Connecticut. I connected with a lot of people, which included alumni from Holy Cross. And as graduation approached, I was hired by ESPN. Following graduation, I worked in television programming at ESPN for nearly six years. I was even lucky enough to work under a fellow alumnus (Burke Magnus ‘88) during this time.

What were you involved in when you were on campus?

When folks arrive on campus, they quickly become involved in extracurricular activities. Although I was very impressed with what Holy Cross had to offer, I wanted to be involved in something that differed from those of my classmates. When I was not on the soccer field, I worked in the Holy Cross Athletics Department for the entirety of my undergraduate studies. And, this “extracurricular” activity actually propelled the start of my career. If you see Crusader Vision on, I was actually the first student to moderate those videos and interview series. I was also involved in the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC).

What was your major and how did it affect your career decisions?

I was an economics major at Holy Cross. Like many students, I had no idea what I wanted to do career-wise when I entered college. An economics degree was very helpful for the development of my career. I used the degree to sharpen the business skills that I accrued over the years in the sports media industry. I truly believe an economics degree at Holy Cross sets up students well for whichever career direction that they so choose to take.

What are one or two skills that you developed at Holy Cross that you use in your work?

A skill that has certainly helped my career development is the ability to network. Sports is a very niche type of career. It is a career that is very difficult to break in, and it requires a strong commitment to make connections. At Holy Cross, I worked relentlessly to network with people in the sports and entertainment industry. I connected with Holy Cross alumni, and those connections led to more connections. And, those connections led to even more. And, I hold my current position at Tennis Channel via the connections I made during my time at ESPN. The ability to network efficiently certainly started during my time at Holy Cross.

What advice do you have for students on campus today?

The advice that I stress to everyone who comes to me for career advice is “Find a career you love, and you never work another day in your life.” I was fortunate to find the ideal career for me at a young age, and I have never looked back. Stay true to yourself, and good things will come about.