CLEMSON — Ali Rogers is no stranger to pressure situations. After all, the 22-year-old Clemson University communications studies major has had a large portion of her life played out in the public eye — particularly last year, when she was first runner-up in the 2013 Miss America Pageant.
And yet getting word on whether or not she had been chosen for an internship with the new College Football Playoff was far more stressful to her than standing on a stage with only one other person, hand in hand, as 8.3 million viewers worldwide watched.
“Oh, yes, I was far more nervous about hearing back from the College Football Playoffs after my final interview than I was standing in the final two of Miss America,” recalled Rogers, who was named Miss South Carolina in 2012. “By far.”
Turns out, she had nothing to worry about. Rogers recently was selected as the first Tom Mickle Intern in Communications and Brand Management for the College Football Playoffs.
To understand how true her concern was, one must have to understand the mindset of Ali Rogers. For Rogers has not been one to focus on pageants.
Rather, as a huge college football fan since she could remember — her parents took her to her first Clemson University football game when she was 4 weeks old — she has been focused on a career in communications and marketing.
“Not many people would believe that, but, really, I didn’t grow up wanting to be Miss America,” said Rogers, who will move to Dallas this August to begin the 10-month paid internship. “Not saying that becoming an intern for the CFP was a dream of mine when I was 3 years old, but I knew then that this was the industry that I had wanted to be in. Being Miss America, not so much. That kind of just fell into my lap.”
After earning her bachelor’s degree this August, Rogers will be like many other current college students and recent graduates: at the low end of the intern totem pole. But unlike any other, hers will be in the communications office of College Football Playoff.
Her role will be to assist the communications and brand management team, with her responsibilities including assembling news clips each day, compiling analytics, performing basic graphic design tasks, assisting communication staff with management of the media center and press operations and assisting with social media efforts.
“We are thrilled to welcome Ali to the College Football Playoff team,” said Gina Lehe, the senior director of communications and brand management who will supervise Rogers. “Based on her experience, she is clearly a young woman of integrity with an incredible drive to succeed. She has made quite an impression on all those she has come in contact during her college career and her supporters reinforce the impressive attributes listed on paper. Ali’s enthusiasm, coupled with her sincere personality and passion for college football, made her stand out during the interview process.”
Rogers already has gained valuable experience by working in Clemson’s Athletics Department all four years of college. She first began as a member of Tiger Pride, a group of students that help with football operations on game days, recruiting visits, hosting parents and guiding tours of the West End Zone at Memorial Stadium.
During last football season, she moved to football media production and hosted the “Death Valley Live” and “All In Highlight Reel” shows. The rest she learned as one of the top students in Clemson’s sports communication program in the communication studies department.
“Ali is one of the most amazing students I have ever worked with,” said Jimmy Sanderson, assistant professor and program director of the sports communication program. “She is extremely motivated and her work has also been extraordinary. In fact, one of her essays she wrote for my Sport and Society class was featured on a leading concussion attorney’s blog. One of Ali’s strengths is that she is able to integrate her excellent written, verbal and technology skills and has done a tremendous job of building a visible profile.
“I was not surprised that she was selected to be the Tom Mickle intern in Communication and Brand Management for the College Football Playoff,” Sanderson added. “I know that Ali will do great things in there with her personality and work ethic and that the experiences and relationships she will obtain will position her for her career. I have no doubt that Ali is going to be very successful in her future endeavors and she will be a great representative for Clemson.”
Rogers beat out approximately 150 other applicants for the position with College Football Playoff. With the competition being as intense as it was, she knew, too, that she had to consider other options should she not be offered the CFP position.
She could continue to work with Clemson athletics, she could go for her master’s degree, she could continue her speaking tour at schools throughout the state in her Miss South Carolina role.
While all those were well and good, they were not what she wanted. And Rogers did not want to settle for anything less than the opportunity with College Football Playoff.
“I’ve been an intern for four years, so I was not looking for another internship after graduating,” Rogers added. “But I certainly couldn’t pass up on this opportunity. I didn’t even know that there would be an opportunity like this. And when I saw this position, I was like, ‘Holy cow, this is what I want to do!’ I never thought I would be able to do what I do here at Clemson on a much larger scale.
“I’m very excited about this. To be honest, I am a little nervous about it, too. But I am excited more than anything. And to have the support from my family and the Clemson football family, I don’t think I have anything to worry about. And I hope to one day be back at Clemson. I really do value my four years here, and I would love to maybe come back to Clemson later on down the road. (Clemson) has been a great source of support and encouragement for me. I know I’m sort of partial, but it just doesn’t get any better than Clemson.”