Archive for the ‘Internships’ Category

If you want to learn more about current internship and job opportunities in the sports industry, it is probably a good idea to attend a sports-themed career fair if possible. Given that I am entering my senior year and will most likely pursue an entry-level job in sports (or otherwise attend law school), I could not pass on the opportunity.

Last Thursday, I traveled to the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey to attend the Madison Square Garden Sports and Entertainment Career Fair (note that the Garden is currently under renovations for the summer). I paid $40 for a ticket to that night’s New York Liberty game in order to gain admission into the fair, which lasted from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Along with hundreds of other attendees, I waited for nearly an hour outside in the 90+ degree heat before entering the Prudential Center, much to my chagrin.

When I finally got past security, I took the escalator up to the main concourse, where I was immediately immersed in a throng of internship and job-hungry candidates. The basic set-up of the career fair included tables with representatives from sports and/or entertainment companies followed by long lines of attendees looking to separate themselves from the pack. The companies who were in attendance included the following:

Major League Teams: New York Jets, New York Rangers, New York Knicks, New York Red Bulls, New York Liberty, New Jersey Nets, and New Jersey Devils

Other Sports Companies: CBS Sports, Gazelle Group Sports Marketing, Aviator Sports and Events Center, and FirstJobinSports.com

Professional Leagues: NBA/NBA Development League, WNBA, NASCAR, and National Lacrosse League (NLL)

Minor League Teams: Providence Bruins (hockey) and Newark Bears (baseball)

Entertainment: Madison Square Garden and Radio City Music Hall

Other: Coca Cola, MetLife, and Northwestern Mutual

It was quite a thorough representation of sports and entertainment companies located in the tri-state era. Attendees, myself included, were forced to allocate their time accordingly given the long lines. Based on my interests, I made it to the New York Jets, New Jersey Nets, New York Islanders, Coca Cola, New York Red Bulls, and FirstJobinSports.com. Some of the companies were offering internships, while others full-time positions. The majority of the available jobs were in Inside Sales, which is basically selling over the phone. This is definitely a very common path into the sports industry, so start sharpening those phone skills!

Due to the large number of attendees, the company representatives often spoke to groups of 2-3 people about current opportunities as well as answered any questions. Depending on when you got there and how popular the line was, you might have gotten some one-on-one time. Some company representatives handed out business cards, while others did not. When you left a table, you came away from it with someone’s name and information about how to apply to his or her company.

What people probably enjoyed most about of the fair was the fact that they could drop their resumes off with any of these companies. In my opinion, this did not really mean much to me because of the sheer amount that were collected by teams, leagues, and the like. Unless you asked a memorable question, you became just another name in the pile. I did my best to remember the names of the people I met and follow-up with them via email. Hopefully, it will set me apart from the rest.

Overall, I am glad that I went to the MSG Career Fair. I had been to a sports networking conference before, but this was my first sports career fair. It was nice to see what is out there and how the fairs typically work. The main thing I disliked about it was the impersonal nature of most of the conversations I had with employers. This is not to say that were rude; they just could not give everyone the appropriate attention given the time pressure and over 1,000 attendees. I am much more interested in getting to know the employer representatives on a more basic level, i.e. where they are from, where they went to school, how they broke into sports, etc. Although this was not quite possible given the circumstances, I hope to stay in touch with people I did meet and develop genuine relationships. Definitely attend one of these career fairs to know what the experience is like, and take it from there.

As you have seen time and time again in my sports industry expert interviews, participation in one or more sports related internships is a pre-requisite for landing a job in sports. That being said, the time to get involved with sports opportunities is now, during your college years. Employers want to see that you already have practical experience that is directly applicable to the job you apply for. Here are 4 ways to get some sports experience:

1. Volunteer for your school’s athletic department.

– This is exactly what I did during my sophomore year at Georgetown. On game days for Men’s Basketball, I assisted the Ticketing Office by handing out wristbands to students hours before the game. It gave me a better appreciation for all the work that goes on behind-the-scenes in sports.
– Other areas within the athletic department that you can gain experience in include, but are not limited, to the following:

Athletic Development
Business & Finance
Corporate Sponsorship
Marketing & Promotions
Sports Information

– Go after the areas of the department that interest you the most, but in the end, you want to take what you can get.

2. Join any sports-related clubs on campus. If possible, obtain a leadership position.

– I am a co-host of a sports radio show on campus as well as an active member of a sports business club.
– If you are a good athlete, play a club sport.
– If there is no sports business club at your school, start one! That will look very impressive to a prospective employer.

3. Seek out an off-campus internship.

– I participated in an out-of-office internship that allowed me to stay involved throughout the whole year.
– Depending on your school’s location, there might be sports companies or teams who have offices nearby. If they have a formal internship program, apply. If they do not, offer free work.

*You will stand a much better chance of interning during the fall, winter, or spring than the summer due to the sheer number of applicants.
*Interning while in school is a function of your academic schedule. Perhaps you can take one less course for a semester or intern part-time if possible.

– Use your school’s Career Center and Alumni Network to your advantage when applying for these internships.

4. Start a sports blog.

– Write about a sports topic you are passionate about. It does not necessarily have to be about the business side of sports. Be creative.
– Promote with social media.
– Become an expert on the topic you choose to write about. Make yourself known in the online community by commenting on other blogs.

American author Napoleon Hill once said, “A goal is a dream with a deadline.” When you were a kid, you probably dreamt of being a professional athlete, the President, an astronaut, or some other profession that you have most likely moved on from by now. Over the years, your interests have changed, and consequently, so have your dreams and goals.

Currently, your #1 career goal is to break into the sports industry. That is the proverbial “light at the end of the tunnel.” The real question you should be asking yourself is, “How do I accomplish that goal?” The answer is, “Set smaller goals.”

When I tell you to set smaller goals, I do not just mean thinking about the things you are going to do that will help you accomplish your ultimate goal of landing a job in sports. You have to write them down for them to become more real. This way you will not only constantly remind yourself about what those goals are, but you will also feel more committed to them now that they are on paper. Let me tell you firsthand that it will be that much sweeter when you are able to cross off a goal written down on paper.

As for the goals themselves, I would break them down by categories that include but are not limited to the following:

1. Research –  Spend ___ hour(s) every week learning more about the different sports careers you might want to pursue.

2. Networking/Informational Interviews – Email ___ sports business professionals every week about meeting them so you can ask them out about their jobs and for career advice.

3. Mentoring – Every week, reach out to ___ high school or college alumni that work in sports and ask them if they would be willing to be your mentor.

4. Resume/Cover Letter Work – Set aside ___ hour(s) every week to update your resume and tailor your cover letter to internships or jobs that you plan on applying for.

It might be difficult to focus on each and every one of these categories on a weekly basis given your time commitment to school and extracurricular activities. I would recommend spending time pursuing at least one of these categories each week. Do something different the next week, the week after that, etc. It is important to develop a routine, yet vary your goals to ensure that you touch on the different categories. After all, this is your career we are talking about. You have to take it seriously. Once you get into the groove of accomplishing these small goals on your journey to breaking into sports, you can set your sights on more ambitious, long-term personal and career goals. The sky is the limit.