Archive for the ‘Mentoring’ Category

As I promised in my previous post about mentoring, I want to help you find your first mentor in sports. You need someone to help you navigate your career as you look to break into the industry. Like I said in a prior post, going at it alone in sports is not easy and will often yield undesirable results.

There are really two ways you can latch on to a mentor in sports. You can either be assigned one, or you can actively seek out a mentor. For me, I was fortunate enough to have joined the McDonough School of Business’s Alumni Mentor Program during my sophomore year. I indicated my interest in sports, and the next thing I know I was paired up with Rachel Mech, a former Hoya who co-founded ProVentures, a sports marketing firm. I just kind of fell into this relationship and am fortunate enough to have maintained it.

The much more common way to find a mentor in sports is to ask someone. While this might seem awkward to some, you would be surprised how willing people might be to help you out. Remember, they were all once in your shoes. Below are some of my recommendations for things you can do before asking someone to be your mentor:

1. Tap into your existing network to see who has gone on to work in sports. That includes your family’s network as well as both your high school and college alumni networks. LinkedIn would be extremely helpful for this step. This is a good starting point since you know you will have at least two things in common with these people: education and a passion to work in sports. If you networks are pretty dry, choose people in the business who you admire and think would be great mentors.

2. Collect as much information about these sports professionals in your networks as you can. Depending on the strength of your schools’ alumni networks, you may or may not find a large list to work from. Regardless of how many people are on your list, be sure look for as many similarities to a particular person as you can.

3. Start to narrow down your list of potential mentors according to their specific expertise in sports. Prioritize based on what part of the industry most intrigues you.

4. Reach out to these people and see if they would be willing to meet with you. Make sure to write them a very personalized email or handwritten letter that expresses interest in what they do. At the end, ask if he or she would be willing to meet for coffee or an informational interview. Impress them with your research and make them want to get to know you.

5. Follow up with those who respond positively. Make a good first impression when you meet them. Continue to stay in touch and build a relationship. You would be surprised how many of these people will want to extend a helping hand. If you play your cards right and take a genuine interest in these people, they will practically be asking you to be their mentee. Hopefully, they take you under their wing.

If you follow these 5 steps carefully and sincerely commit yourself to finding an ideal mentor, I believe you will experience nothing but success. Good luck!

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.

Mentoring is one part of breaking into sports that does not receive enough attention. As an aspiring sports business professional who probably has a limited amount of sports contacts, you will have little luck trying to break into this industry alone (You should know that by now after reading my last post on networking). That is where mentors come in.

One of the most interesting and satisfying aspects of the sports industry is that in order to get into it, you have to do a lot of leg work. I say this as a business school student who sees Accounting and Finance majors being fed the recruiters on campus. All these students really have to do is show up to the information sessions and drop their resumes for internship and job openings. Unless your college or university has its own undergraduate sports management program, the sports jobs are not going to be handed to you. While it is unfortunate that professional sports teams, leagues, and agencies do not normally recruit on college campuses, it makes the process of landing a sports job more rewarding. Researching and learning about all the sports opportunities out there for college students as opposed to being exposed to on-campus recruiters for sports jobs is exciting and, at the same time, gives you a sense of independence.

That being said, the competition out there is so fierce that you still need some assistance in the internship and job search. What you need is someone who preferably works in sports and is willing to help you discover what area of the business is the best fit for you. This help can come in a variety of forms: reviewing your resume and/or cover letter, sharing their current and past work experiences, introducing you to their contacts within the industry, giving you advice, etc. The ideal mentor should be honest, trustworthy, and a motivator. In a sense, your mentor should be an integral part of “breaking” you into the industry. Stay tuned for a future post about how to find the perfect mentors for you.