How Hayley Tafuro ’16 turned her passion into an ascending career at NBC Sports

How Hayley Tafuro ’16 turned her passion into an ascending career at NBC Sports

By Sean Boyle | UConn Jour­nal­ism | May 3, 2019

A self-pro­claimed “email nerd,” Hay­ley Tafuro (UConn Jour­nal­ism ’16) is paving the way for aspir­ing jour­nal­ists to break into the indus­try and rise at a major sports station.

While Tafuro always knew she want­ed a career cov­er­ing sports, she nev­er could have imag­ined report­ing to NBC Sports in Stam­ford each day for work as email mar­ket­ing coor­di­na­tor for the sports net­work’s many email newsletters.

Dri­ving in each day, see­ing the NBC sign… it does­n’t get old,” Tafuro said.

Tafuro got her start at NBC Sports in a small role cov­er­ing the Rio Olympics. While at UConn, Tafuro was a dou­ble major in Jour­nal­ism and Com­mu­ni­ca­tions. She always kept busy, whether help­ing to cre­ate the UConn Year­book, cov­er­ing a sports beat for The Dai­ly Cam­pus, or work­ing as an intern for The Ruden Report  in her native Fair­field County.

Tafuro even did some­thing she once con­sid­ered unthink­able: She took a job out­side the jour­nal­ism field. Post-grad­u­a­tion, Tafuro was feel­ing some of the typ­i­cal stress­es that come from fin­ish­ing school with­out a job lined up. Tafuro accept­ed a job in marketing.

As long I can remem­ber I want­ed to do some­thing in sports, so it kind of freaked me out at first,” said Tafuro.

The new job (involv­ing jew­el­ry) taught Tafuro some valu­able lessons about net­work­ing, mak­ing impor­tant con­nec­tions, and refus­ing to lim­it your­self to a sin­gle career path.

I always told myself it would all work out in the end,” Tafuro said. “There are ran­dom twists and turns but they get you where you are meant to be, so don’t pigeon­hole yourself.”

Tafuro’s next move man­aged to mar­ry mar­ket­ing and sports jour­nal­ism, set­ting up a for­mu­la for suc­cess. She pounced at an oppor­tu­ni­ty from con­nec­tions made at NBC Sports to land a dream job.

Three years lat­er, Tafuro has piv­ot­ed from the stress of grad­u­a­tion to the stress of press­ing send on email newslet­ters that go out to thou­sands, and some­times MILLIONS, of sports fans. 

 “We want to tai­lor our con­tent to the audi­ence,” said Tafuro. “Every time I press send my heart beats out my chest.” 

That “audi­ence” at NBC Sports is more broad than Tafuro could have ever imag­ined. While grow­ing up a sports fan, her knowl­edge cen­tered around the major New York sports teams — not Eng­lish Pre­miere League Soc­cer or NASCAR, which are major draws for NBC Sports.

I became a NASCAR fan,” she said. “You have to be a sponge and immerse your­self when you’re in that environment.” 

Whether gaug­ing met­rics in the hunt for new sub­scribers, copy edit­ing and design­ing newslet­ters, or respond­ing to read­er feed­back, Tafuro attrib­ut­es her day to day work to her UConn jour­nal­ism edu­ca­tion.  She gained the nec­es­sary con­fi­dence and a wide vari­ety of prac­ti­cal skills, help­ing her land her NBC Sports newslet­ter job just a few years after  graduation.

Tafuro offered this advice to aspir­ing jour­nal­ists and UCon­n’s grad­u­at­ing seniors: Trust yourself.

It’s about real­ly just embrac­ing where you are at that moment. You may start to com­pare your­self, but focus on your own jour­ney, put your blind­ers on.”

Fol­low Hay­ley on Twit­ter @hayleytafuro or sub­scribe to one of her NBC Sports email newslet­ters.