March 10th, 2015: The same day I got back from Las Vegas from the West Coast Conference Basketball Tournament, I received a phone call from Melissa Guzman, the A’s Community Relations Coordinator, on the way to the gym. She was calling to inform me that I was one of two interns chosen for the internship with the Community Relations Department with the Oakland Athletics for the 2015 season. I chose to accept the second half of the season to complete my internship, which meant I wouldn’t start until June 22nd. I did this for two reasons. First, I wanted to continue to get comfortable in San Francisco since I had only been living here for two months at the time. Secondly, I had just started a job at GNC to help pay the bills until I could land a job in sports, and I didn’t want to quit right after I had been hired.
I was excited to work in the Community Relations Department, even though that was not my initial interest. Before interviewing and learning more about it, I had no idea a job like that existed in the sports industry. Little did I realize it was similar to what I had been doing during my time at Ashford University when I was working towards my Bachelors in Sports and Recreation Management. While at Ashford, I played baseball, ran cross country and was involved in Golden Key International Honour Society. This involvement allowed me to get out into the community of Clinton and give back using sports as my platform, which was something I was passionate about.
Internships and volunteering are great for everyone involved. They are low-risk for both the individual and the organization.
As an intern you are able to get hands on experience to see if it’s an area of interest that you may want to pursue further in your career. I was dead set on working in college athletics, but this opportunity came along first. In Drew Bree’s book, Coming Back Stronger, he says, “Never look too far ahead, or you will end up tripping over something right in front of you.” (Brees & Fabry, 2010 p. 24). Community relations had been right in front of me this whole time, and I hadn’t realized it until now.
In the case of the organization, they are getting sometimes menial tasks completed for little to nothing pay wise. If you want to think of it in terms of sports, it’s like trying out for a team. The only difference is they aren’t necessarily looking for a super star but someone who is willing to do the little things and do them better than anyone else. Once you have shown you can do the little things you may start to receive more responsibilities in your role.
You have to separate yourself from everyone else and figure out a way to add value to the organization. There’s always going to be someone out there that is a little hungrier than you, who wants or needs a job a little more than you, and who is willing to work a little harder to get it. Drew Brees also talked about never letting his back up have the opportunity to see the field in fear that he might not get back out there afterwards. This may be a little extreme in the given situation, but just remember there are a lot of people out there that want to work in sports, and they are chomping at the bit for the opportunity you have. I was determined to work harder than anyone else so when an entry-level opportunity came along after my internship, I would be the first person they think of.
However, I had a long three months to wait before my internship started so I was eager to continue to volunteer in the meantime. At this point, I was starting to question what direction my career path was going to go. I could end up in community relations or college athletics or even something completely different. I was trying to keep an open mind and be prepared for any and all possibilities.
Brees, D., & Fabry, C. (2010). Coming Back Stronger: Unleashing the hidden power of adversity. Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House.