By: Adam White, @FOSAdam
Front Office Sports is extremely proud to have sat down with one of its biggest supporters and one of the best in his business Chris Yandle, Assistant AD of Communications and Public Relations for the Georgia Tech Athletic Association. A fan of FOS since the beginning, Chris’s journey is one of many trials and tribulations and one in which students can learn a lot from. A renaissance man of sorts in the sports industry, not only does Chris work for Georgia Tech, he is also a published author, as well as an adjunct instructor at both West Virginia University and Kennesaw State University. He was gracious enough to offer up his time and insight into the world of collegiate athletics, the importance of mentors and why resumé creativity is okay.
From Louisiana-Lafayette to Georgia Tech, your journey has taken you to four states and four different schools. What has that been like for you?
It has been eye opening. Growing up as a kid, my father got transferred a lot, so I am used to the moving part. The biggest thing for me professionally is that by going to different institutions you can see how things operate through a different lens and then take what you see to the next step in your career.
The biggest eye opener for me was when I walked back into Lafayette and seeing everything from an entirely different perspective from the time I was working there as a student. I had been at Marshall for the two years in between as I was getting my graduate degree and to just get that experience there and bring it back to Lafayette was truly eye opening.
You always have to take something with you as you go. When I went to Marshall from Lafayette, then when I went from Lafayette to Baylor and continuing on to where I am now at Georgia Tech, I have always took something from each school and experience.
Georgia Tech is your latest stop; take us through a week in the life for you during football season?
During football season with a game day on a Saturday, it is an all week affair.
Sunday: You have the AP Top 25 polls and we are sending off our stuff to the conference and our opponents.
Monday: We have practice in the afternoon, but until then we are finishing our notes in the morning then firing those off. We finish practice with a coach interview and an interview with members of the offense.
Tuesday: Coach’s press conference in the afternoon. We are there to set it up, make sure we have any last second updates, live tweet it and transcribe it. After lunch we will wrap up the video and quotes and send those out to the media. We finish with an interview with members of the defense.
Wednesday: We will do something on the website and then we will have an after practice interview with the coach. On a home game week, we are typically putting the finishing touches on media credentials, programs and name placards.
Thursday: There is nothing really scheduled for this day, so for us we are focused mostly on editing our press box notes and everything else to make sure it is all correct and that there are no errors. This is probably the slowest day of the week.
Friday: If we are at home, this is usually reserved for the set up we have to do and any other last minute things. All of the weeks work comes together on Saturday and we do it all over again the next week.
Outside of football, our weeks are a lot less regimented. We have a few more meetings throughout the week and while I may have a few things I want to get done throughout the week, we play it more on a day-by-day basis. I am at everyone’s disposal during the offseason, so I try my best to make myself as accessible as possible.
A true proponent of helping students achieve their goals, how have mentors helped you grow and why should students have them now?
If Mike Mike Montoro didn’t hire me at Southern Miss as a student, we wouldn’t be having this conversation today. Mike saw something in me that I didn’t see in myself. I only did basic stuff at Southern Miss, but it was the fact that he wanted me there and saw that I had talent. Everyone should have a mentor whether you acknowledge it or not.
To be a true mentor, you can’t work with that person. I didn’t view Mike as a mentor to me till five or six years down the road.
It is imperative that you have someone who is outside of it all that can give you open eyes and an unadulterated view of the world and how everything is going. If your mentor is completely unattached, that really helps because they can see it from a different perspective and give you a clearer picture of your situation.
It is so important just to have someone who has been there and can offer you advice.
I try to give back as much as possible, because during most of my years as a student I didn’t have any help.
You’re very vocal on warning students not to make certain mistakes. What are the biggest mistakes you see students making in networking, social media, and their resume? How can they correct this?
Networking: The thing that grinds my gears is when people send LinkedIn connections and I haven’t even met them or connected with them on any kind of level. You can’t just connect with people and think you are done. You have to have physical face-to-face conversations.
Networking and social media strategy is like having kids. It sounds really good in the beginning and you are really excited, but you can’t just have it and walk away. You have to nurture it, you have to build upon it and you have to make it better. Your kids depend on you to grow up, as does your network. It can’t be a one-way street. Everything has to grow and evolve.
Social Media: At the end of the day you just have to be careful. Obviously we have freedom of speech in the United States, but that doesn’t mean you can abuse it. You have to realize that background checks nowadays include extensive social media checks. We all have great thoughts in our head, but not everything needs to be shared on the internet. Avoiding polarizing topics will help you control this.
Resume: I am a big advocate of ‘putting your name in lights’ as my career advisor once told me. Back when I was applying for positions early on, everyone’s name was in 14-point bold font. By ‘putting your name in lights’ he was suggesting that I make it stand out by making it 36-point font, changing the type of font or whatever else it may be. Your resume is your sales piece and by setting your name in lights’ you are advertising your product, which is yourself.
I also advise kids to do their resumes in InDesign or another publishing platform. It allows for more creativity and it isn’t so template based.
You don’t have to include every detail of your position; instead you need to highlight the best things that you have done. Don’t copy everything in your job description, talk about things outside of your job description.
Personal brands are a must nowadays. With so many avenues to create such a brand, what would be your advice for students to create the best possible personal brand?
I think this is very important, but professionally speaking, a personal brand is a one off of whatever role you are in currently. The one thing to keep in to mind is to not overdue it. You don’t want to lose control of everything else around you by only focusing on yourself. Whatever you are doing online should mirror what you are doing in the real world.
You have worked in college athletics your entire career. What makes them so appealing to you and do you ever foresee a jump to professional sports. What do you see as the major differences?
The rules and regulations we have to follow are the major difference between the two levels. It makes it difficult at times, but it also makes it unique.
I love college athletics because I love being on campus and being around the buzz and the thrills of college. It is also great because in college athletics there are multiple teams and something always going on and as someone who works better in those situations it is a natural fit.
Three things all students must remember?
1. "Everyday is a job interview. Everything you do today is going to set you up for tomorrow."
2. "Don’t be above the job."
3. "You have to have character. You can have all the skills in the world, but skills can be taught while character cannot."
We would like to thank Chris for his time and insight and we wish him all the best in his future endeavors!