By Candace Martino
Sport management is a highly competitive field, but it is possible to land the internship position or job of your dreams with the correct plan. Whether it’s working for a professional sports team, collegiate athletic program or any other organization connected to sports, getting your foot in the door starts early. It is all about continuously building a firm network foundation, having an academic foundation in the sport industry and getting the right experience you need to set yourself apart from the rest.
If you have those three key things, breaking into the industry and becoming successful is right around the bend. From personal experience, I rely on the following four components in order to make myself more competitive for the job market: getting involved, networking, knowing where to look, and applying.
Before you can even think about looking into the sports industry, it is vital that you get involved on campus or in the community right off the bat. Depending on what part of the sports industry you would like to pursue, I suggest looking at someone’s bio who has been there before.
As the old cliché goes, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Simply put: do not reinvent the wheel, follow the path of those successful before you. It is just as important to get the experience outside of the classroom as it is inside the classroom. The first way of building relevant information on your resume is to begin volunteering. You could help coach a youth sports team, assist with game-day operations for an organization, volunteer at local sporting events or work at youth camps during the summer. These are the easiest ways to start getting experience under your belt.
The best way to do this? Start by contacting local high schools or collegiate athletic offices about volunteer opportunities. More often than not, people are willing to lead you in the right direction. You might just get lucky enough to come across a part-time position.
“My advice is to not shy away from meeting people. Be genuine, be yourself, share some of your work with them and ask about theirs. Working hard is beneficial as is staying after hours to get to know people on a more personal level,” senior communications major Greg Praver said. Praver is a former News Channel 8 sports intern who is heavily involved in the communications department at UT and the Tampa Bay community.
Your entire college career, you will hear professors and advisors stress the importance of networking. As Praver mentioned, networking is extremely important for internships and jobs in the sports business, and you should use the resources that are already available to you. Believe it or not, your professors do have a life outside the classroom and their experience goes further than you may think.
Start using your professors as a way to build your network platform; ask if they could help you in a particular position you are interested in and if they know someone who you can contact. Consider college alumni network; it was not long ago when many of them were where you are at this very moment. Alumni are more than willing to connect with you to discuss potential opportunities. Let the alumni brag on their achievements and pick their brains.
“Making good impressions with professors, employers and adults in your community can lead to opportunities. It is much harder to get a sports job, or any other job for that matter, if you do not know someone of impact in the industry willing to vouch for you,” Praver said.
Use sport businesses online to find out available internships or job openings, the requirements for the position and the application deadlines. Then take what you have learned from reading this and get to work; create a path that works best for you. Get the out-of-the classroom experience you will need to earn you that dream job. Teamworknline.com is the hottest destination to look for jobs and internships for professional sports. Ncaamarket.ncaa.org is a good website to look for openings that pertain to college sports. Other sport-industry-based websites include bluefishjobs.com and workinsports.com.
For more specific searches, you can target the team you want by visiting the respective websites (look for employees, careers or the human resources tab). Do not limit yourselves to only professional teams, think outside the box. Think semi-professional. Think sport associations. Think sporting good companies.
Apply, apply and then apply some more. Sports internships are extremely competitive. All of the positions have deadlines, so remember to do your research and apply early. Apply to as many internships as interest you. The more you apply to, the more likely is is that you will get that call for an interview. Broaden your search to different regions across the country to better suit your career needs.
Get involved someway, somehow on your college campus to sharpen your skills for the sports industry. Network with your professors, classmates and administrators. Remember, it is not always who you know, but sometimes it is who knows you. Research potential positions, organizations and corporations, the possibilities are limitless. Make sure you are getting the experience they are asking for, and then some. Lastly, execute! Remember, you cannot get an internship that you do not put in the effort to apply to.
You have the tools. Now go out there and make the experience yours.