How Maggie Riddle Got A Job With the New England Patriots Right Out of School And Her Journey to MIT’s Sloan School of Management
Out of school, Maggie Riddle was offered a full-time position as a Customer Marketing & Strategy Analyst for the New England Patriots. She was able to expand on her Major in Psychology and find innovative ways to practice the things she learned at Tufts. She further developed this skill as Consultant for C-Space, a global agency that works with the likes of Samsung, McDonalds and Ikea to build customers into the ways these companies work. After fully realizing her talent for understanding business she applied and was recently accepted to the MIT Sloan School of Management. In this interview, Maggie talks about what it was like to work for the Patriots and what’s prompted the career moves she’s made in the business world.
What are the most valuable lessons you learned while playing Basketball at Tufts?
I think time management, humbleness, and a maintaining a positive attitude are the most valuable lessons I learned while playing basketball at Tufts. As a student-athlete, my schedule was crammed with classes, practices, lifts, studying, finding time to sleep etc. Having the ability to prioritize my assignments and be efficient with my time due to the limited spare time I did have outside of basketball is something that has served me well. I was known more for my leadership off the court than what I accomplished on the court, but not having a hurt ego and maintaining a positive attitude while other teammates got more playing time or recognition than me has helped me be self-aware and a great teammate/co-worker.
Did you imagine a career in consulting when you started studying Psychology? When did you discover your professional interest?
No, I never imagined going into consulting. I did, however, follow my passion for consumer psychology which has guided me throughout my career and has eventually led me to my current position at C-Space. I discovered my passion for consumer psychology while majoring in Psychology at Tufts. I loved learning about the theories in my social psychology class and understanding what makes people tick. After volunteering in Tufts psychology labs, I realized I did not want to study or research these theories, but instead apply them in a real world setting. It was through this process of elimination that I began seeking internships in company’s customer marketing departments to gain this experience and see firsthand if I did indeed enjoy the application of consumer psychology.
You were able to get an internship with the Patriots. How did this opportunity come about and how did you separate yourself in the interview process?
My basketball coach, Coach Berube, was a great advocate for me as I was seeking out an internship in the sports industry the summer going into my senior year. She recommended me to the Patriots’ VP of Customer Marketing & Strategy department whom she had played basketball against growing up. I was a perfect fit for the department’s summer internship program, and stood out by my willingness to do the dirty work and my great attitude. I also wrote my supervisors handwritten thank you notes at the end of my internship - a tip that the Tufts Career Center gave at one of their many events - which potentially made me more memorable than the other summer interns.
That eventually led you to start working with the Patriots full-time after you graduated. What was your day-to-day like?
My day-to-day was never the same, especially since the sports industry is so fast-paced. Overall, I would leverage customer analytics to find opportunities for all of the Kraft Sports Group businesses (New England Patriots, New England Revolution, and Patriot Place) and used sales data to manage the buying strategy for the Patriots’ and Revolution’ retail businesses.
That sounds like an amazing opportunity, and you started working for them two weeks after graduation, What challenges did you face in transitioning and was two weeks was enough time?
I think the hardest part about transitioning out of college is understanding that you and your friends are not on the same schedule anymore, which can be lonely at times and may make you feel like you’re being pulled in different directions. A lot of times I would say ‘yes’ to social gatherings because I was used to seeing my various groups of Tufts friends on a regular basis and would go out of my way to still make it happen. But the demands of the ‘real world’ can be tiring and grueling and I had to learn to say ‘no’ and to be more selfish with my time to prioritize what I needed (e.g., rest, working out, a night in, etc.). I had to have confidence in my friendships and know that even if we weren’t seeing each other as much, we would be able to pick back up where we left off when we did see each other again. Ideally, I would have liked to push back my start date, but the reality is the company needed me to start right away and quite frankly I needed to start making an income!
After four years, you decided to move on. What prompted this change and how did you know you were ready?
After I was a part of a second Super Bowl win, I thought I should retire from the NFL while on top. Just joking - but in all seriousness, including my internship, I had spent 5 years with the Patriots organization. I was at a point in my career where I wanted to expose myself to new business problems and expand my skill set to deal with external clients, as up until then I was dealing with internal stakeholders. C Space has a vast client list of Fortune 500 companies they work with, so I knew I would be getting access to a variety of businesses and could stretch myself by switching from persuading internal stakeholders to external stakeholders on my insights and recommendations.
Are there aspects of your life at C-Space that resemble your experience as a student-athlete at Tufts?
I think my ability to receive feedback, actually absorb it, and then make adjustments to make sure I didn’t make the same mistake twice has been extremely transferrable and valuable in my career. I know I am not going to be perfect and that mistakes are inevitable in the workplace, but this is just like how I knew I wasn’t going to win every game or make every shot I took. However, the numerous experiences I have had where the game plan was not executed as planned and I had to get coached up, adjust, and then move on to the next play and do a better job than I did before has prepared me for the inevitable hiccups I have encountered in my career. Being coachable has made me very valuable in the workplace and is a characteristic that my managers love about me!
Given all this experience that you’ve gotten in business, why did you decide to go to business school? Can you shed light on the process of applying and how it felt to get into MIT?
While I’ve had great work experience, I was looking to round out my quantitative and qualitative experience by getting my MBA so I could elevate my analyses and be a more effective leader. As a psychology major, I also had an itch to do my due diligence and get back in the classroom to take classes on accounting and economics - which I did not take in undergrad - so I can properly learn the fundamentals of business. The application process was grueling and when taking into consideration the standardized test component of applications (GMAT or GRE) the whole process took me over a year from start to acceptance. The application process definitely took time away from family and friends, but getting accepted into MIT Sloan has made it all worth it! MIT Sloan was my #1 choice, so ever since I got the call from admissions that I was accepted I have been on cloud nine!
With a solid foundation in your career, do you ever worry about what your future holds? If so, how do you deal with that feeling?
Yes, I am always worried about what the future holds! Since I am not on a set track like other professions (e.g., doctor, lawyer, etc.) there is always uncertainty as to what my next career move will be and if I’m on the “right” career path. I think learning how to cope with the future and the anxiety it induces is a huge part of ‘adulting’ and is something I am continuously working on. I’ve learned though that if I follow my gut and my passion for consumer psychology things tend to work themselves out. I also will talk with my friends about these worries since we are all going through it, regardless what carefree lives we are portraying on our Instagrams!
What advice would you give to a current student that is looking for careers in the same industry?
I would recommend using LinkedIn to research any Tufts alumni who are working in the industry you are hoping to enter and reaching out to chat with them. Tufts alumni always love helping other Jumbos, and if they love their job they will be more than willing to talk about their day-to day! I would also recommend making an effort to maintain and nurture any great connections you do make along the way, as you never know when your paths will cross again.