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.