By Ariana Cobb, Howard University and Ford Media Intern
As an African American college student who is planning on entering the communications field, it is crucial to speak with seasoned professionals about its various aspects. In a timely fashion, I was fortunate enough to converse directly with Jasmine Neely of NASCAR about the highlights of her career in public relations.
Jasmine Neely is currently the Senior Coordinator of Team, Driver, and Industry Communications at NASCAR. Originally from Charlotte, North Carolina, Ms. Neely is a 2016 graduate of the University of North Carolina, where she majored in public relations. When asked about the focus on PR, she stated that law school was an original intention but didn’t want to dedicate too much time to political science. Once Jasmine made her decision, the love of the field took over. For sophomore and junior years, she began applying for internships to develop the passion for PR further. One residency that the UNC graduate participated in was with NASCAR as an Integrated Marketing Communications intern in the NASCAR Diversity Internship Program (NDIP).
Fresh out of college, Ms. Neely decided to continue working at NASCAR as a coordinator in the same department she interned with previously. “I was pretty familiar with the people, but it was a different mindset because I was there full time and I had just graduated from college,” she stated. This transition was a learning period for the recent graduate to prove herself as a team member ready to put in a strong work ethic. “I had to step out of my comfort zone and talk to people, learn about the business of NASCAR, the business of sports, and motorsports.”
Years later, Ms. Neely remains at NASCAR and still loves the obligations with the racing organization. When asked about her favorite part of the job, she exclaimed, “I love hosting people at the track, specifically, those who have never been to a race before and showing them all that NASCAR has to offer. It’s great presenting fans with behind the scenes action in the pits and showing them what transpires through a driver’s mind while speeding around an oval raceway at 150 mph.”
The North Carolinian continued describing that first-time reactions to the motorsports experience bring a pleasant joy. As Jasmine would say, “it’s all about recruiting and gaining new fans.”
While COVID-19 may have changed attendance at the track, the North Carolina native still enjoys her NASCAR duties. “Being able to bring diverse people into the sport is important to me. For minorities, I think it’s vital to tell those stories,” Ms. Neely emphasized. Diverse representation within the industry can genuinely inspire younger generations into the field.
I then asked Ms. Neely what career advice she would give to college students on the verge of the corporate world. “Follow your heart, do what you are passionate about, don’t try to be other people, and know that the decisions you make now don’t have to be perfect for the future.”
My conversation with Jasmine Neely was enjoyable and insightful. Her words of advice will stay with me as I make decisions about my career in communications.