This post is part of the #YPSportsChat 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.
“I have learned a lot in my few short years in the sports industry. As many people do, even now I have many career moments I look back on fondly and confidently, and others I wish I had approached differently. If I could give advice to myself, this is what I would say…”
Dear Younger Me,
Congratulations on deciding to pursue a college degree and choosing Grace College as the place to do it. You may feel that you are underachieving compared to some classmates, or did not make as exciting of a college choice since Grace is located right in your hometown.
Make a choice right off the bat to “bloom where you’re planted” and make the most of your time at Grace. As you will discover, being at a smaller school can present a flurry of unforeseen opportunities.
Get Comfortable Being Uncomfortable
Whether in social circles, volunteer opportunities or club involvement on campus, don’t be afraid to jump outside your comfort zone and grow. Great relationships and lifelong mentorships will evolve from simply taking the time to jump outside your normal friend group to get to know others around you on campus – even if it is not seen as the cool thing to do in the moment.
The Grace Sport Management Club will provide a number of opportunities to get involved on campus and in the community, some of which are within areas that you may not be used to.
These opportunities will stretch you and prepare you for larger responsibilities to come.
Speaking of social circles…don’t be afraid to talk to girls from time to time…they don’t bite.
Confidence is Key
Sport management is a career path chosen by the few and the brave who are willing to risk long hours and lower pay for a chance at something great.
Some will second guess your choice to study Sport Management in college, as job placement right out of school is not always guaranteed. Props to you for remaining in those courses and making the most of it.
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Volunteering at larger sporting events will become a regular occurrence during undergrad years. These opportunities are a bit overwhelming at first, feeling like such a small piece of the big puzzle that is a large scale sporting event.
Arrive at each position and dive right in, don’t let the platform overwhelm you. It will not always be the most popular decision to leave campus for the weekend and spend money getting to and from Indianapolis or other cities where events are taking place.
Know that these events will shape your future career and that the time doing free labor is absolutely worth it! Don’t let others tell you that it is a waste of time.
Run the Race, But Don’t Sprint
Many say a career in sports is a marathon, not a sprint. Work on keeping this in mind even from the beginning during your first couple internships and game day positions.
Make the most of your time spent with the amazing staffs at the Indiana Sports Corporation, Indianapolis Indians and the University of Evansville.
The incredible people you will meet at these organizations in the first 18 months outside of school will help shape your view of the industry as a whole, and many will become great friends down the line even after you leave.
Stay focused on the job at hand. During the first couple short term positions you will hold, it will be easy to get caught up in finding the next step to your career before the current step is even complete.
This will lead to distraction at times and your work product could suffer as a result. Remember to keep everything in perspective and just enjoy each moment. It is amazing how fast time goes and how quickly these positions will pass by.
In the moment it may seem like a lot of work for little pay, but these early months outside of college will form a great foundation for a career in sports. Continue to prove your worth to each organization and bring your A Game every day.
As your first few internships develop, there will be plenty of opportunities to get to know other industry pro’s. You have a knack for getting to know people in the moment during such events as the NCAA Emerging Leaders Seminar or NACDA Convention, but don’t just stop connecting with those folks after the event or short term position is over.
LinkedIn will become a great tool for you. Many industry professionals are open to connecting on the site, and some conversations can lead to informational interviews about different corners of the industry.
Continue to pursue these connections, including reaching out to some people you do not already know. Be confident, explain your goals and seek guidance.
Relationships are built on more than simple exchanging business cards, and people know when all you want is a good reference for a job posting at their organization.
Key interpersonal connections will become a vital part of your job down the line, so start reaching out early and get to know people.
Get Connected - It’s OK!!
As you settle in to a Master’s program and eventual first full time job, do not be afraid to plug in to the community you find yourself in. The first couple years are a whirlwind, and moving a few times in a short period made it easy to only get to know people or an area on a surface level.
Don’t let a short term position keep you from having real, meaningful relationships with those around you, and with the community you live in. This surface level/short term mindset will be one you will need to break out of once you arrive in Illinois, as you will end up being there longer than expected (don’t worry, it’s a VERY good thing).
Stay The Course
Continue to work hard, seek guidance from your God, family and friends, and always be real with people. The hard work you are putting in will continually pay off in various ways and you will be surrounded by an incredible supporting cast of other industry professionals who are creating stories of their own.
Stay the course, keep moving forward and always lend a hand to the next guy in line.
Josh Remington, @jrem_44
Assistant Director of Marketing
Illinois State University