You want to work in sports? You and everyone else. Each year several thousands of former students and young professionals hope to break into the industry. If you want to put yourself in the best position coming out of school take these five tidbits of advice from industry pros and successful young professionals to ensure you’re on a path to greatness:
1. GET EXPERIENCE
The more experience you have, the more qualified you are. Simple as that. Whether it be at the local parks and recreation department, university athletics department or Super Bowl, each provides a unique learning and networking opportunity.
“Apply to everything, reach out to everyone and be open to anything. Every relevant experience makes you more qualified so take advantage of internships and volunteer opportunities.” –Kelli Louthan, 2016 Fiesta Bowl Communications
“The most beneficial thing I did in school to help my career and future is undoubtedly the many volunteer or short term experiences I participated in. Almost all my experiences are interconnected in some way proving how one small volunteer opportunity leads to another which leads to lifelong friends. Yes, knowing people is a huge part of securing internships and jobs but it’s because you know them AND they know your body of work.” –Joe Kuykendall, Mercer Women’s Basketball Director of Operations
2. BE PLEASANTLY PERSISTENT
Andrea Kremer, Chief Correspondent for the NFL Network, recently spoke about being pleasantly persistent at 2016 Shirley Povich Symposium. Being pleasantly persistent means that once you volunteer and get some experience, continue going back for more. Ask if there are other areas you can help with or people to shadow. Be the first one to volunteer to help again at an event and be sure to maintain a relationship with everyone you meet.
3. UTILIZE ALUMNI
Utilize alumni from your university when going about starting your professional network. Unless your school’s program is in its first year, chances are someone there has a connection to someone with a job you’re interested in. This can provide you with not only connections, but a chance to have conversations with people who have been in your position before and know what you’re going through. Reach out, ask questions and always be open to learning more.
“Use the remaining few months to start building your network. If you know of someone who has a job you want, ask if you can get coffee or have a phone call with them. Learn about areas of the sports industry you might not know a lot about because you could be surprised to find something you'd want to do for a living.” –Catherine Policastro, Athletics GA at University of Virginia
4. HAVE TRANSFERABLE SKILLS
Your first job is likely not going to be your dream job and that’s okay. That first job will however provide you with experiences you can take to your next job. Transferable skills are those that you can take with and utilize wherever you go. That job you worked in facilities in college may not have much to do with the production assistant job you’re starting now but you can certainly incorporate the organizational, time management and teamwork aspects learned in facilities.
“In each experience you have, be sure to take away something from it- whether it be learning about your personal leadership style, working with others or learning about new ways to operate technology or produce content. In this dynamic industry, job positions are constantly being changed but you’ll always be able to fall back on your skills.” –Maura Long, James Madison University Corporate Sponsorships Intern
5. ENJOY THE RIDE
Working in sports is unlike anything else. Yes the hours can be long, there may be a time (or many times) you will have to put work before your social life, but in the end it will all be worth it. So to the seniors who only have a semester left until graduation- pursue your passion faithfully and fearlessly, enjoying the ups and the downs along the way.
“It’s going to be stressful, but college is still an amazing experience and the worst mistake you can make is not appreciating it. It may take a while to find your first job, don’t panic. A lot of times it’s best to wait for the right job than to take the first job you find. Above all, follow your passion. If you do what you love, the rest will fall in place.” –Andy Lohman, James Madison University Sports Information Director
“No matter how tough the job search or the hours may seem, always remember: You work in sports. You are one of the coolest and luckiest people in the world.” –Catherine Policastro