Maddie Washburn discovered her dream job in an opportunity earned while studying at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln.
A senior double major in journalism and sports media, Washburn is preparing to receive her degree on May 8. She came to the university with a knack for photography that she honed and developed into a passion. It led her to the sidelines where she snapped images of Huskers in action, NFL stars in the Super Bowl and the recent NFL Draft.
Washburn earned an internship with the NFL for fall 2020. It was intended to be in-person, but due to COVID-19, the four-week opportunity turned into a virtual opportunity. Washburn made the most of it, learning as much as possible from professional sports photographers virtually.
“It was a little scary, but it was something I was very grateful for because I didn’t want (the internship) to be completely canceled,” she said. “I knew that I could still learn a lot.”
The four-week program ended with Washburn getting the chance to shoot for a regular season Chiefs game and then the Super Bowl.
Washburn and the rest of the team spent about a week in Tampa ahead of the game. While activities were limited due to the pandemic, she had a blast capturing every possible moment.
“I definitely learned a lot, but being able to be there for the Super Bowl was pretty amazing,” she said.
Her passion for photography stems from a love of sports. On campus, she helped fuel that desire by working for Nebraska Athletics in her junior and senior years.
“I love that I get to help represent the athletic department and cover basically every sport that we have, which is really cool,” she said.
Washburn expanded her experience on campus by working as a member of the Daily Nebraskan staff and shooting Husker sports for the Omaha World-Herald.
“I do enjoy shooting different things,” she said. “Then I kept getting opportunities to shoot sports and it’s what I like to do the most.”
Now, as she prepares to collect a bachelor’s degree in journalism, Washburn hopes her campus experience will lead to a job working in sports photography — hopefully with a specific NFL team.
“Getting the chance to intern with (the NFL) has really shown me how much I enjoy the people involved and the league,” Washburn said. “I’m really grateful for these last four years at Nebraska. If it wasn’t for the College of Journalism and Mass Communications and all the people I’ve met, I wouldn’t have had this experience.
“I’m extremely grateful for all the people who I’ve crossed paths with and had the opportunity to learn from and work beside.”