Sports Jobs Q&A – What to do When There Isn’t Time to Intern

sports jobs sports internships

Interning at events like the Indianapolis 500 are incredible experiences – if you have time

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

The Q:

Hello WorkinSports!
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

The A:

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.

sports jobs sports internships

Internships demand more of your time than ever

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.

sports jobs sports internships

If you can’t intern, volunteer at big events or job shadow someone in the business for a day

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!

The Q:

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?

Thanks! Johanna

The A:

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.

sports jobs preparing at ball state

Students at Ball State University have the chance to get real-life experience as part of the SportsLink program

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.

sports jobs in journalism

The Grady School of Journalism at UGA has long been regarded as one of the best in the country, now adding a sports journalism program vaults them even higher.

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.

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About Brian Clapp

Brian Clapp has worked in the sports media for over 14 years as a writer, editor, producer & news director. After beginning his career in Atlanta at CNN/Sports Illustrated, he switched coasts to Seattle to work at Fox Sports Northwest. In 2010, Brian began pursuing a new found passion on the digital media side, launching a successful website and then taking on the role of Director of Content for WorkinSports.com & WorkinEntertainment.com.

Recently, Brian has become addicted to Google+ and LinkedIn so add him to your circles and make him a contact. No seriously, do it.

And if you want to know where our privacy policy is before you submit your comments below, it's right here.

Comments

  1. Henry Jordan iii says:

    I am looking to help with football program and learn to help the youth football kids and high school games and scout for teams please take time to see mt resume and please call me I enjoy working with children in sports and outside of sports.

    • Best of luck Henry – seems like you have a passion for coaching youth sports. If anyone hiring for the roles Henry describes wants to reach out to him go for it! – Brian

  2. thanks for the site- it’s been invaluable.

    I’m trying to break in to sports media/reporting/broadcasting in a fairly small market (Las Vegas) with a background in a slightly different industry (Screenwriting & Filmmaking). I’m well out of school, so interning isn’t really an option. I’d like to job shadow, volunteer, or just get an entry-level position with a media company or sports organization here, but I’m unsure where to start my search and who to contact so my resume doesn’t just sit in a pile. any thoughts or suggestions? thanks.

    • Rob, thanks for writing in – this is a great question and one I’m happy to give some insight into. First off, Las Vegas is a pretty big market as far as TV markets go, so understand it may be tougher to start there…it may be worth it to gain experience in a smaller market and work your way up to Las Vegas. A former co-worker of mine who is now a sports reporter in New Orleans – started in Montana, upgraded to Eugene Oregon, then went to Las Vegas…and now on to New Orleans. It can be a tough road, so it has to be something you love love love. Trust me it’s worth it. I have a question for you that is better asked offline, so I’m going to send you an email and we can discuss further. – Brian

  3. This sounds like exactly what I need. I am a sports official by trade but I think I can bring value to the management side of the business as well. I would like to team up with an organization and “shadow” the boss. I am interested in flag football / basketball. Leagues, tournaments etc.etc.

    My question for you is what age group do you suggest I start at?
    Adults or youth ? Or both?

    Please advise,
    Thank you

  4. Hey Brian – thank you for your work and time you put into these posts. I began in the industry through athletic administration and coaching and have progressed to running events and programs. I am hoping to take the next step into the Special Events area – any thoughts or advice on how to proceed? (I am a little older, so not sure if an internship is viable for me)

  5. Hello!

    I recently graduated from college with a concentration in sports management and business. However, I live in a smaller area with not a lot of sports opportunities.( I moved to a different state for 3 months just for my college internship credit). I have a full time job but have been working in a totally different field till I can save up to move. I want to continue my sports career and get involved again. Do you have any suggestions or jobs that might be close to the sports industry in a smaller area where I could get started till I could move or other options?

    Thank you!

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