On the Path from Athlete to Athletic Director
Julia Millon has always been a passionate athlete, but it took her a while to realize her ultimate career goal is to become an athletic director. As an undergrad at the University of Colorado-Boulder, Millon earned a bachelor’s degree in Italian, and planned to work abroad before returning to the U.S. to teach at the college level. However, after coaching and directing a youth lacrosse program in Chicago, she found her fascination with the administrative side of athletics.
“I realized I liked the front office and behind-the-scenes aspect of sports a lot,” said Millon. That’s when she decided to enroll in the Master of Arts in Sports Administration (MSA) program at Northwestern. Now in her third quarter, she’s transitioned into a position in the Northwestern Athletic Department and serves as the alumni outreach coordinator on the MSA student board. She also continues to coach women’s lacrosse and field hockey at Evanston Township High School.
Ultimately, as she prepares to someday work her way to an AD office, she is appreciative of the MSA program’s wide-ranging curriculum and real-world experience.
“I’m happy to be getting exposure to multiple areas of the business,” Millon explained. “For example, I’m in an advertising group project, but I don’t have much advertising experience in my professional background. In the MSA program, I get to work with a company in Chicago as a consultant on advertising projects from social media outreach to Millennial attendance to help fill that skills gap.”
Millon also added that learning at Northwestern has helped her open doors when conducting research. For one project, she examined the prevalence and perceptions around concussions in youth, collegiate, and professional hockey organizations.
“I spoke with people high up in athletic departments and I don’t think that wouldn’t been possible at any other school,” said Millon. “Northwestern carries weight behind it. Saying I’m getting my master’s at Northwestern and work there – people really respect that. I think that will help anyone in this program achieve their goals.”
With her degree, Millon plans to help change the landscape of male-dominated sports administration. In particular, she wants to work in one of the most competitive NCAA conferences.
“Not a lot of females are athletic directors and I’m a big advocate of women breaking glass ceilings, so I set my sights high and I want to be one of the first female athletic directors, specifically in the Southeastern Conference.” She added, “The industry is changing. I’m part of that change.”