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Point Park Alum: Jen Bullano

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Point Park chapter.

Jennifer Bullano, a graduate of Point Park’s SAEM M.B.A program, is the Pittsburgh Penguins’ Senior Director of Communications. Her Campus had the opportunity to sit down and talk to her about her job and what it’s like to work in the NHL!

HC: How did you start working with the Penguins?

JB: I went to Penn State for PR and after I graduated I did a few internships with the Walt Disney Company in Florida. I was a VIP tour guide and did guest relations while working at ESPN on the weekends. We did a lot of special events and I was the only one who liked hockey, so I always had the hockey players when they came down. Doing ESPN on the weekend allowed me to interact with the players and the media, which is something I didn’t even know existed.

I liked that so I decided to start looking into schools because although Disney was a great opportunity and I loved it, I knew it wasn’t what I wanted to do forever. Part of me thought I should try being a female agent in hockey but I decided to get my M.B.A instead. Point Park was just starting their SAEM M.B.A program and they called me and said that with my entertainment background they would love to see me start the program with them. I did, and through Point Park’s connections met with my current boss Tom McMillian, who is also a Point Park alum. I asked him about internship opportunities and ended up becoming an intern here in 2005. They invited me back the following season as a game day employee but the Manager of Media Relations resigned and I actually took over that job full time. In 2006, they hired a Director of Communications above me but it didn’t work out after a few years, and in 2008 I was promoted to Director.

HC: Did you always want to work in the NHL?

JB: I grew up with a passion for hockey but I didn’t know this is what I wanted to do until I started doing internships and working at Disney. Once I decided I wanted to work in sports, I knew hockey was my preference.

HC: What is a typical game day like for you?

JB:  A game day usually begins with getting all the requests from the broadcasters and radio rights holders and going over them with the players to make sure they’re okay with it. So basically when you see an interview before the game it went through me. I coordinate with the player and I remind the player.  In the morning, we will have practice and then bring the media into the room when the players are available. I try to listen to what is being said, what the topics are and then I speak with the coach before he speaks with the media. Then there is a break until the afternoon, when we do all the pre-tapes. During the game I sit in the media level but head down every intermission because when ROOT Sports wants to interview a player during intermission they can’t just ask the player, they have to ask me and I ask the player, then the three stars: post-game interview, media availability, coach interview – and then do it all over the next day!

HC: What is your favorite part about your job?

JB: I like that it’s always changing and that it’s always fast-paced.  I know I said game days are pretty routine but they’re really not in the sense that anything can happen. Looking back we’ve had some experiences I’d rather we didn’t have, but obviously you learn from those and take it in stride.

HC: What was it like to be a part of the organization when they won the Stanley Cup?

JB: It was surreal; it was just so awesome. I can remember waiting the last seconds and the staff all pushing each other trying to get to the bench because we were all in the runway waiting for the time to count down. We were all just jumping all over each other; it was insane. The locker room was insane, and it’s incredible because you know how hard they work.  Probably the best moment was that I did get to hold the Stanley Cup on the ice after the players and coaches. It was really cool.  It was the craziest summer I’ve had, that’s for sure.

HC: You work with some of the biggest stars in hockey, does that add more pressure to your job?

JB: I wouldn’t say more pressure, but I definitely think there are other teams that probably don’t understand the demand.  Their schedules are more difficult to deal with but we try to keep their days as normal as possible. We actually keep a spreadsheet for Sidney Crosby so he understands the demand for him. I think because they’ve been here the entire time I have, it seems like a normalcy to me, but I know it isn’t. It’s tough because our number one priority is always to service the media but second, and a close second, is to protect the players and the club.

HC: What made you choose Point Park for your Master’s?

JB:  When I went to Penn State it was such a big campus that I was interested in seeing what it would be like. It was nice, and I’m glad I did it. I did it because I wanted to be closer to home. I had already moved to Florida so I knew if I came back I would either be staying or leaving again, so why not do grad school close to home. I also liked that there was so many connections and with the sports market here in Pittsburgh, I knew it would be a good opportunity.

HC: What did you enjoy most about attending Point Park?

JB: I was working full-time, so I liked that the schedule was flexible. I was in an accelerated program and I liked that I could still have a job and do the internships.

HC: How did the SAEM program prepare you for your career?

JB: They brought in a lot of speakers, and there was a lot of networking. My first day of class they said that they had a lot of alumni in the sports field and they mentioned Tom McMillian. I reached out to him I think that was a big stepping-stone for me.

HC: You have become a role model to many young women hoping to work in the sports industry. If you could give them one piece of advice, what would it be?

JB: Someone once told me that if you feel that you’re at a disadvantage because you’re a female, then you put yourself at a disadvantage. I say that because I honestly can say I never came into this thinking “I want to do this cause I’m female and they say I can’t.” I came into it like, “I can do this,” without any reservations and without thinking that there would be a reason they wouldn’t consider me.

I often remember this one time I was at a PR meeting in Montreal and I was in the elevator, running late to a meeting. This girl says to me, “are you Jen Bullano, who works for the Penguins?” and I said yes, and she says, “Oh I just wanted to introduce myself, I think it’s so cool they made a female a director. That’s something I would strive for. I just want to say thank you and wish you the best.” I remember thinking in that moment, “wow,” because I had never thought about that.

I look at it as, “yeah, you can do it,” but it is challenging and there are hurdles. You have to have thick skin. There are some people who are going to make you work harder to earn their respect and that’s okay. There’s some people who think I’m difficult to work with, but they force me to be that way, because if I was too nice, they would walk all over me. They may not like that I’m female, but this is my job, and I’m going to do it.

Follow Jen on twitter at @PensPRLady for an inside look in the locker room and lives of the Pittsburgh Penguins!

Rebekah Mohrmann is a Senior Sports, Arts, and Entertainment Management major and Multimedia minor at Point Park University. You can find her on Instagram and Twitter at @rebekahxmarie. 
Lexie Mikula is senior Mass Communications major at Point Park University from Harrisburg, PA. Lexie held the position of Campus Correspondent and contributing editor-in-chief of HC Point Park from May 2014 - May 2016. In addition to social journalism and media, she enjoys rainy days in the city, dogs with personality, watching The Goonies with her five roommates (and HC teammates!), and coffee... copious amounts of coffee.