Multiple Paths to the Same Result

This post is part of the #YPSportsChat Blog Series! This series will give young professionals an inside look at the intricacies of the sports business world and advice on how to navigate it.

By: Cliff Miller, @CliffMiller25.

When it comes to pursuing a career, we’ve all heard the cliché advice: chase your dreams. Last week’s #YPSportsChat blog was even about having a dream. If you haven’t read it yet, go check it out. While chasing your dream is important, having a limited mindset while doing so can be harmful. The problem lies not with the “what,” but with the “how." Pursuing a dream is fantastic, but believing that there is only one path to get there and not allowing yourself to deviate from that path can be a mistake. If we choose not to be open to other opportunities, we are limiting ourselves in a field that is already extremely limited.

For those of us looking to make it to the AD chair, it can seem like there is one specific route to get there. This was my thinking when I first got in the industry and I was determined to stick to that route. It wasn’t until I started to look around that I realized this thinking was completely false. Look across the college athletics landscape and you’ll see ADs that got their start in every area in an athletic department. The one thing they all have in common is that they took advantage and made the best of the opportunities presented to them.

As I stated previously, I had this type of mindset when I first started in the field. It was only after prompting by a mentor that I reluctantly decided to check out an opportunity in ticketing. This one, small decision set in motion events that brought me to my current position. If someone had told me three years ago when I was in graduate school that I would be a Director of Ticketing, I would have thought they were crazy. My mind was so focused on development and how it was the only way I could move up through the ranks.

Not only did a start in ticketing provide me with opportunities to advance my college athletics career, it has given me invaluable insight into an area that I otherwise wouldn’t have learned about. After being in this position for a little over a year now, I see the weaknesses of this mindset. Not only do I get in-depth insight into ticketing, making me more marketable later on, I collaborate with and learn from other departments on a daily basis

A too narrow focus doesn’t just apply to choosing a department. It also applies to thinking you can only work for a big school or major professional team or tying yourself to one geographic area of the country. Stepping outside the lines is a big part of helping us learn and develop as professionals. So, always chase your dream, but don’t be afraid to deviate from the path occasionally – you just might be pleasantly surprised where you end up.

Now, Later and Forever

True Challenges of an Intern