Sports internships are one of the most enjoyable things for me to write about, primarily because I believe they are the foundation for every successful sports career.
In this weeks Sports Job Q&A we have a question from Taishanna who is having trouble finding time to intern and is looking for alternative suggestions, and another question from Johanna who has a child interested in a sports career but isn’t sure where he should go to school or what he should major in.
We’re going deep into these two issues for this weeks Sports Jobs Q&A – if you want to have your question featured in an upcoming column add it to the comment section below, send us a tweet or add it to our LinkedIn group – we are always listening!What to do when you don't have time to be an intern #sportsbiz Click To Tweet
I am a full time student and I also work full time as well. I was wondering if you can give me any guidance as to how to go about doing an internship being that my life is so busy. So far I have been working with Georgia Tech during their game days but I would like to get a more hands on experience that a internship has. Can anyone give me any advice or may know of somewhere I can apply for an internship for that may fit my needs. Thanks in advance for any help!! – Taishanna
Taishanna – That is a really tough situation to be in, I admire your ability to balance a full-time education while working full-time.
Internships have become more demanding over the years, it used to be you could put in 5-10 hours a week on a relatively flexible schedule and employers were just happy to have you around to help (aka: doing things they didn’t want to do themselves.) Now, internships are akin to entry-level jobs, you are expected to apply, interview, compete against others to get the chance, work long hours and do tasks that are actually complex and valuable.
In some ways that is great, because that is what the real world is like, but in other ways it makes it difficult for those like you that have other commitments and can’t just work 40 hours a week for free (or very little pay – thank you Black Swan interns).
The fact is, if you apply for internships and advise the recruiter or hiring manager that you have some scheduling issues that they’d need to work with you on, they are going to think to themselves, ‘well, this other candidate doesn’t have any restrictions, so I’ll just accept them instead.”
Not fair – but true.
So here’s the plan Taishanna – the way I see it you have a few options you can pursue:Three alternative options for people without time to intern #sportsbiz Click To Tweet
Option 1: Lets not completely give up on interning just yet, you just need to find the right kind of opportunity. Don’t go for the big high-profile internships at places like ESPN, Octagon, Nike or the Atlanta Hawks – look at small sports marketing firms, sales teams at regional sports networks, event production companies, publicity firms. Some of the smaller boutique places may not get a ton of intern love, so that might be a place you can swoop in that will be flexible with your schedule.
Option 2: Job Shadow – It’s kind of an old school technique, but I would get 3-5 requests per year to job shadow me when I was news director at a regional sports network and I thought they were great. Unlike an internship, getting an opportunity to job shadow with someone in the sports industry may only last a day or even just a few hours, but can be hugely beneficial.
Option 3: Volunteer – I know many people that have volunteered at PGA Tour events and told me they learned a ton and were exposed to people connected to the industry that they were then able to network with. Here’s where you need to aim high – don’t just volunteer at the local tractor pull, try to go high-profile and really target an opportunity that fits what you want for your career. Very few people turn away volunteers.
For more ideas, check out this blog post I wrote a few months back titled “Seven Ways to Gain Sports Industry Experience While Still in College” and if you want to search all of our available internships follow this link: http://www.workinsports.com/search-sports-internships.asp
Hope that helps!
Our son is very interested in pursuing sports jobs in some way. We are just beginning the college process. Is it better to go with a marketing and management degree or possibly a communications or media degree and then do a Sports MBA program or should we be looking at schools that offer it at the college level as well?
Johanna, I love it when we get questions from parents trying to help out their kids – I think it’s great that you are involved in this process with them.
I believe a few things very strongly and one of those things is that to get hired in sports you need to learn marketable skills while in college. Hard skills. The kind that stand out on a resume and tell a business: ‘that is exactly what we need’.
As a college graduate with a generic communications degree I can tell you DO NOT GO THAT ROUTE.
I got hired right out of college at CNN/Sports Illustrated, not because of anything I learned while majoring in communication – I got hired because I worked at the campus TV station while in school and learned skills like audio, non-linear editing, camera work, lighting etc.. CNN hired me because I had skills they needed, not because of the generic education a communication degree gave me.
It’s even harder now – businesses want new employees to make an immediate impact, they are less inclined to train and work with someone with potential, they hand-pick those with hard skills that fill a void in their workforce.
The good news is, there are many many great programs out there that understand this and are doing a better job preparing their students for real success in the real world. Ball State University has this incredible immersive learning program, where students actually run a sports network, and digital media websites.
The University of Georgia has a wonderful program through their Grady School of Journalism called GradySports. And there are countless more.
But now that I’ve hit on the broad topic, lets get specific:
Choose a college that has a pretty decent athletic program – doesn’t have to be national championship contending – just big enough that he can volunteer, intern or get involved in the business of college sports. If the school has sports specific majors – great – but if not, that’s OK, just make sure it has some sports specific classes whether that is in marketing, research, analytics, management, publicity, media relations – or something else I’m not thinking of right now.
If he’s really not sure of a specific part of the sports industry he wants to pursue, a sports management degree is a great choice because it will introduce him to many concepts and disciplines prevalent in the sports world.
But if he has a clear direction of the career he wants to pursue, then choose a more specific major. So for example, if you know you want to work at ESPN, you’d probably want to major in television production, broadcast journalism or digital media.
Even if he majors in lets say broadcast journalism, adding a minor in business or sports management is a smart plan, because he will begin to understand the broader business rather than just a specific role. Having some business knowledge will make him a more versatile employee and have a higher career ceiling.
If you are looking at a sports related undergrad or graduate degree we recommend you visit our sister site, www.DegreesInSports.com. With detailed information on over 400+ Sport Management / Business programs around the world, it will help you Research, Evaluate and Decide on your next move.
That’s it for this week – if you have other ideas for any of these questions, put them in the comments below. And if you have a question you’d like us to answer for next weeks Sports Jobs Q&A you can add it to the comments as well!
We respond to everyone, but we’ll highlight the best in our weekly Friday column.