Just because you can’t play with the pros doesn’t mean you can’t work with them. Sport, like any other industry, is a business and is populated more by people off the field than on it. While ample opportunities are available, it remains one of the most challenging fields to break into. With this in mind here are some tips that can help turn your workplace dream into a reality.
1. Practice Makes Perfect – Translation: Experience is everything
If you are serious about a potential career in sport, no matter what medium -- whether it be broadcasting, journalism, management, coaching etc. – it is essential that you have sport related experience on your resume. No matter how small a role you play in an event or with a team it will continue to add to your credibility. Having just been a part of such an event will make you more desirable to potential employers. Opportunities are available in the form of internships, volunteer work and part time jobs. However, most of the positions are likely unpaid so that is something to account for. Still, these experiences go a long way towards helping you feel more comfortable around the industry. It will also prepare you for what can be an extremely stressful day-to-day environment. Ultimately, having this experience will help you be ready to pitch in right away when you do finally land that job.
2. Work on All Parts of Your Game – Translation: Diversify your skills
The importance of experience cannot be stressed enough, especially if this is a field you would like to pursue professionally. However, the biggest trap one can set is to develop only one skill. Part of getting the experience is not only learning what you would be doing, but also learning what everyone around you is working on and how he or she came to grow into that role. This can serve two-fold, giving you the opportunity to learn other parts of the sport field you are looking to get into and leading to potential career opportunities that you had not previously considered. The goal though is to diversify your skills to make yourself an increasingly marketable candidate to potential employers.
3. Take Advantage of Learning Opportunities – Translation: Get Educated
With the industry continuing to grow, more and more opportunities are becoming available in areas that didn’t exist even five years ago. While a Bachelor’s degree is now a mere formality to any position off the courts, those with graduate degrees are opening themselves up for further advancement opportunities. Getting your MBA or going to Law School can help to diversify you from other candidates and can open doors to management positions.
4. Call For The Ball – Translation: Focus on Networking
Building and using your contacts can go a long way towards helping you build a career in sports. No matter where you meet someone or what he or she does, it is of vital importance to exchange contact information. Building your network can help open you to opportunities in the industry that are not listed online or in publications such as Sports Business Journal . If you don’t know people who are in the industry don’t be afraid to reach out. Often on teams/leagues/companies websites there are e-mail addresses for notable employees in various departments. People in the industry are often very willing – and excited – to help out potential newcomers who show a passion for the arena and a true willingness to learn. It is imperative not just to build your list of contacts but also to put them to use. Make sure you keep people informed of what you are doing and check in to learn about new ventures they are currently involved in because you never know when an opportunity will arise.
5. Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff – Translation: Make yourself teachable
The sport industry is highly demanding and can be highly stressful. No matter what area of the field you may find yourself in you will always be subject to criticism. What separates the lifers from those who spend a short time in the industry is the ability to handle the criticism and turn it into teachable moments. In this field you will often make mistakes – some larger than others – and what you learn from these mistake usually proves to be more important than the mistake itself. If you can prove to those around you, the people who have carved out a niche in the industry, that you can handle yourself professionally in these moments and learn and improve from them, it will demonstrate the maturity needed to survive in the field. Never be afraid to ask questions, as people are always looking to teach and help out newcomers; and if you prove to be an adept student they will often go out of their way to help you start out your career.