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Q&A with Recent Master’s Graduate Phil Servello (MS, C&I ’21)

After four years of full-time copywriting work, Philip Servello was drawn back to college to pursue a degree that would help him pivot to a sports production career.

He recently completed his master’s degree with a concentration on journalism and electronic media. He took full advantage of the student media programs that CCI offers, serving as sports and news director for WUTK 90.3 the Rock and a news producers and sports director for UT Today. He was also a freelance sportswriter for the Oak Ridger covering high school sports.

Before coming to UT, he earned his undergraduate degree in advertising from Temple University.

What made you decide to pursue your masters degree at UT?

I wanted to switch up my career. Working as a copywriter was fun, but not quite what I wanted to do forever. Sports media always was pulling me in. Having the opportunity to attend a big school with major sports teams was a big factor in wanting to come to UT.

What has been your favorite part of your time here so far?

Getting hands-on experience in whatever I really wanted to do. Whether it was working at a radio station, directing a news program, or covering sporting events, UT, and Knoxville in general, really provide all the opportunities you could want as a sports guy.

What has it been like juggling being a GTA while attending school? How do you manage your time?

It’s really just a part of the experience. Coming from the workforce back to grad school made time management pretty easy. Treat everything like a 9-5 job, and there’s plenty of time for everything else on the weekends.

What are your career goals?

To work in sports production. Nothing can quite touch the thrill of live TV production, and sports have always been such a natural part of my life, that it only makes sense to combine the two. Being able to produce, direct, whatever in the TV truck at a live sporting event is just a feeling and a thrill that is almost irreplaceable.

What has been your favorite part of freelance writing? Do you have any tips for students who are looking to get into freelancing?

Freelancing can be a lot of fun, but understand that since you’re paid for the hour, you have to be pretty adamant about keeping track of your time. The nice thing is that you can pick and choose what projects you want to do. Plus, when you build up a good base of clients, you can make some decent money. From writing recaps and previews for high school sports, to making press kits for up-and-coming rappers, I’ve gotten to have a lot of fun while I’m here writing.