Discovering Your Fit in the Sports Industry – Work in Sports Podcast

This is the struggle! “I love sports, what should I do for my career?” Well, good news, we have a plan to help you with that. 

Hey It’s Brian —

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Now let’s start the countdown…

Hi everybody, I’m Brian Clapp, VP of Content and Engaged Learning for WorkinSports.com and this is the Work In Sports podcast — 

Big thanks to the University of Florida and Grand Canyon University for having me speak to their classes last week. I’ll tell you it is absolutely one of my favorite things to do. 

I learn as much as, I hope, the students do, because I get to know what is on their mind. I do about a 30-40 minute set, and then open it up for questions…and thankfully these groups have had a lot to ask. 

It keeps me on my toes, not knowing what is coming, and just having to react and answer from my experience and knowledge. It really keeps me sharp. It also gives me a window into what students are gravitating toward for careers, what fears they have, what lingering questions or unsure decisions they have to make. 

I love it. If you’re a professor listening, feel free to invite me into your classroom – I’d be honored. 

So let’s get into one of these common themes that always emerges. 

From no one in particular but honestly just about everyone —

“Hi Brian, you are awesome, I love sports, can you help me figure out what career in sports I should pursue”

I added the “Brian you are awesome part” but suffice it to say, this is a question I get 20 times a week through LinkedIn, through our private facebook group, through email, through sessions like these in classrooms.

This is the question.

I’ll be honest – it used to make me mad. Well, not mad, but kind of frustrated. I can’t answer this question for someone, I can’t tell you what to do for your career and I can’t spend an hour looking at your resume and trying to figure out where you fit. 

That also happens. 

I used to have this quick response I’d provide, where I’d say something like “while I fully appreciate the struggle to figure out your life’s goals, I’m not armed with enough info to help you determine your career direction – I don’t know enough about you and what makes you tick!’

To which people would respond with their resume, or 10 paragraphs about themselves and say here you go — now you know me, so what should I do for my career. I want to help, but come on, not to sound callous but I have a full-time job and a family, I shouldn’t be spending my free moments in life doing a free deep dive on your and creating your life plan.

I’m not that nice.   

In truth, I was avoiding this conversation about “fit in the sports industry” because I knew it was reckless to answer this for someone. I try really hard not to peddle bad advice — and while that may not sound like a  groundbreaking approach – you’d be surprised when you see or hear some of the terrible advice that is peddled in the career guidance realm.

But after a year or so of dodging and diving away from this question – I knew I had to come up with a solution. Not an answer mind you, I’m still not going to tell someone who they should be when they grow up, but I can create a process, an approach, a way for you to systematically figure this out for yourself.

First, you have to identify the problem.

In my view, people aren’t sure what their fit is in the industry because they don’t know what real opportunities look like. It’s a lack of knowledge, not a lack of desire. They hear terms like marketing, sales, broadcasting, analytics, operations — and in a lot of ways those are bland catch-all terms that don’t really tell you anything.

We needed to get deeper. Knowledge breeds comfort. When someone doesn’t know where they are going, or what is around the bend, or have the proper information to make a decision, their instinct is to tighten up, shut down, and be fearful.

So how do we solve this problem?

Well, I started my solution with data. We have 17,000 sports jobs on WorkinSports.com right now, so the answer is somewhere in there. Your fit is somewhere amongst those 17,000 active jobs. 

But where? 

You aren’t going to sit there and go through 17,000 jobs one by one to find your match! I know I wouldn’t.

We have really cool matching technology on our site that takes your resume, compares it to the available jobs and gives you back jobs you are a match for. That is an incredible tool — and that may be the perfect solution for many of you so you should try it first. But for some of you, without direction, and therefore without the necessary skills on your resume, still figuring out where you want to go, your current resume may not unlock your fit in the sports industry.

So what do you do?

I’ve figured it out. I actually brought up this concept about 6 months ago to a small group of young people and had them test it out. It worked marvelously. 

What you are looking for is entry-level jobs, because that is where you will start. And most people search by job type — sales, marketing operations, scout, trainer – etc. But you don’t know this yet, you haven’t figured out your fit. Or people search by location – northeast, southwest, Canada – but again, I’m less concerned with location at this point and more concerned with role and goal. 

So we’re going to search in a totally different manner. 

I want you to search using our keyword tool — which is on the top left of our job search filters — and use terms associated with entry-level employment.

For example:

Coordinator

I’m looking right now — 1,455 jobs with the title coordinator in them. That is an entry-level term, a coordinator is an entry-level job. But it spans the entire marketplace. 

I see an:

  • eSports coordinator
  • Production Coordinator
  • Marketing coordinator for an agency
  • Marketing coordinator for an athletic program
  • Group Sales Coordinator for a minor league baseball team
  • Social Media Coordinator
  • Public Relations Coordinator
  • Human Resources Coordinator 

And that’s just the first page. 

From this one search, you have found entry-level roles in sales, marketing, operations, broadcast, content, social media and more.

Start reading these job descriptions – what interests you?!

Try another search using another entry-level job term:

Associate

4,000 jobs

  • Broadcast associate
  • Sales associate

Teams, networks, leagues, organizations agencies — all represented.

Assistant

3,600 jobs

  • Digital marketing assistant
  • Sports Promotions Assistant
  • Events assistant
  • Assistant Director of Marketing

Try more terms that are associated with entry-level roles — not the job function, but the job term.

And read. Read Read. 

When I talk to college professors, sometimes I read through the curriculum they offer in their program to get a vibe for what they teach… and sometimes I read a class description and think, man that sounds really interesting and fun. 

If my instinct is, wow this sounds cool, that tells me that this opportunity would be good for me. That’s the attitude you need to take to this search — when you read something, if it sounds lame, move on, if it sounds cool, read more. 

Start to narrow down this process of discovering your fit in the sports industry – or better yet, discovering you.

Now, once you do that and you’ve isolated a role or type of role that really piques your interest — go find 5-10 more just like it. Now you know the role, so you can search by other terms to find more opportunities.

Once you do this, conduct a heat check. You’ve heard me discuss this before — but basically, you are going to go through these 10 jobs, list out all the skills they require to hire someone and figure out whether you have the skills for this role. 

Wherever you have gaps, your plan over the next 6 months – 4 years, depending on how close you are to entering the job market, is to fill these gaps. 

That is your game plan. Every decision you make now is focused on filling these gaps — every internship, informational interview, volunteer opportunity. You are going to be totally focused and strategic on learning exactly the skills you need to be a prime candidate for the jobs you have identified as your fit.

You may go through this and still change your mind in 6 months to something else… that’s fine! Just start the process over again! You will change you will zig, that’s OK! You aren’t locked in concrete. You are agile and able to aggressively move through your life and career goals. 

So that’s it, that’s your plan to discover your fit in the sports industry… and start to learn the skills you need for the job. 

Coming up later this week on the podcast I am super excited to have Kara Walker, Boston Celtics VP of Content Strategy and marketing — I am a die-hard Celtics fan and a content guy, so I plan on geeking out a lot. 

Thanks for listening everyone — remember to subscribe, share with your friends, tell your professors and give us a positive review wherever you listen to our show!

Get back to work!! 

Summary
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Work In Sports podcast host Brian Clapp shares his system for helping people discover their career fit in the sports industry.
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WorkInSports.cm
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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.

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