How to Stand Out When You are Applying for Sports Internships – Work In Sports podcast

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Hey everybody, I’m Brian Clapp, VP of Content and Engaged Learning at WorkInSports.com and this is the Work in Sports podcast… 

Before we get into our new favorite segment, the stat line, quick note — the final part of our four-part series on social justice in sports told through the eyes of our young diverse aspiring sports professional panel…is Wednesday. 

I hope you have been listening. If not. Do it. Start with part 1. 

After this series is complete we’ll get right back into our weekly sports industry interviews — with a returning champion, Joan Lynch. Joan is the Chief Content Officer for WorkingNation, which means she studies the job market and has incredible advice. 

Her first podcast episode, last year at this time, was one of our most popular of all-time. Like, way more downloads than Leigh Steinberg, but not quite as many as Mailynh Vu. Which puts her in rockstar status. 

We’ve already recorded this interview and I have to say, I think it’s some of our best work — Joan knows her stuff, and I get all fired up, and then she brings insightful data, and I rant and rave — we are like a perfect yin and yang. So plan on tuning in, next Wednesday.

Alright… let’s get into 

The stat line…

The total number of jobs on WorkInSports.com — the number one job board for the sports industry — 17,286 — pretty much flat week over week.

We added 2,093 new jobs in the last week, an average of 299 fresh sports jobs per day during the last week. That’s a lot of fresh activity. 

Three cool jobs — 

#1

The South Carolina Stingrays are hiring a Marketing Coordinator – great entry-level job  — I’ll wait a few seconds for you all to google search to figure out what sports the South Carolina Stingrays play. 

If you guessed Minor League Baseball as I did, you’d be wrong, this is an ECHL hockey team – minor league sports are a great career starter, check this one out.

Go, Jamie Harrison! 

#2

The Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs are hiring a Director of Digital Media and Communications — The Iron Pigs President and GM Kurt Landes was on this show…and the Iron Pigs, the Triple-A affiliate of the Philadelphia Phillies are just 20.8 miles from my house. So if you get this job, let’s hang out. 

And job #3…

Fox Sports in Charlotte is hiring an Associate Producer for Marketing — so this is the creative side of marketing, the process of developing on-air promotions, in conjunction with the marketing team and creative directors. Very cool 

Check those three and 17,000 or so more, on WorkinSports.com right now… 

And that was the stat line…

So, rifling through the email, the LinkedIn, the private Facebook group…looking for great questions, and rising to the top this week is Jemele from Florida — I wish this was Jemele Hill, I’d love to have her on the podcast, but alas, I don’t think this is. 

“Hi Brian, I’m Jemele and I’ve been listening to your podcast for the last year, the advice you share is so easy to act on, so logical, but at the same time are all things I definitely was not doing, so thank you.  I feel like I’m making smarter choices now that will prepare me for my future… on that subject, I’m a college junior and I’m trying to get my internship set up for the spring semester. Obviously, these are weird times, but let’s forget that for a second and just focus on standing out from the competition. How do I, someone without much experience, stand out from the crowd for a prime, career-defining internship?”

Love this Jemele, we are definitely in the Spring planning season. I know it’s only October, but trust me, teams, league, and organizations are looking at their spring internships now. 

One quick note before we get into your question, I know you said to ignore the pandemic for now and focus on the merits of standing out – which I am down with — but I would like to make a strategic point first. 

I was talking a few weeks back with the Athletic Director at Stephen F. Austin, Ryan Ivey, great guy, we were on a panel together. And he pointed out that all these schools that canceled fall sports, will be running double in spring. He was gearing up for what will be a grueling spring where they will have to run double the work they normally would.

Now, since our conversation, Stephen F Austin has come back to action and started competing — but many schools haven’t. If you looking for the intersection of need and opportunity, college athletic programs this spring could very well be the best place to look for experience. 

Ok, now let’s get into things you can do to stand out from the crowd for internships.

1: Build a target list

Now is the time to focus on the potential companies or organizations you’d like to intern with. Usually, interning happens close to you on campus, or if you are commuting, your home. So you should be able to create a list of local sports-focused companies, minor league teams. Pro teams, marketing agencies, etc, that are in range. Start there, and prioritize your list based on how well this organization aligns with your career goals. 

Like, if you are in Atlanta, and want to work in sports marketing — check out Rashida Gayle’s TwentySix Marketing agency. If you are in Atlanta and have no interest in marketing, don’t.

Pretty simple process here. Align yourself with the best opportunities that are within your range geographically.

2: From there — start networking. 

Ok, you have your target list of 5ish companies or organizations. Now you can network within those organizations and start to build connections. This is being intentional with your actions!

Don’t go too high and start trying to connect with the team president on Linkedin — look to people who have been in the sportsbiz for 5 years or less. They can empathize with your situation and are more likely to help and connect. 

So if you want to work in sports sales, look for account executives, sales coordinator, inside salespeople, and a Group Sales manager or something similar. If you want to work in analytics — look for an analyst or data coordinator. 

Two things you should do — identify the potential people to network with, AND look at their Twitter.

If they are Twitter active, try to understand their personality. Are they all business? Do they share advice and guidance? Are they only retweeting stuff?

From this, you can start to refine your networking targets again, by personality. I use this technique with the guest booking for the podcast! 

I highlight people that make sense, but then I check them out on Twitter to see if they have a “sharing” mentality. For example, Chris Grosse, Associate Athletic Director for Marketing at Penn State…great guest! How did I know he would be a great guest… his Twitter profile! Dude is prolific, likes to share, way into sports business, and marketing. I knew he’d be great, and I was right. 

You are trying to find out who would be a good networking relationship, so check their Twitter and see if their personality is a match.

Then, connect with them on LinkedIn and add a personalized note — Hi Melanie, I’m Brian a college junior at Georgia Tech studying sports management. Your role with the Atlanta Falcons fascinates me, I’d love to connect and continue learning about your experience. 

BOOM.

Now, be visible in their world. Make your name known. When the time comes you are applying for internships at their org – you can reach out and say hey, I just noticed this internship at the Falcons – I’m going for it! Do you have any advice?

Don’t ask them for a recommendation or referral, just mention it low key, ask for advice, and how they respond and engage.

You have someone on the inside, that’s how you stand out from the pack. 

3: Informational interviews

Let’s go on step further — you’ve targeted organizations, identified great people to network with that align with your career goals, and have the personality to match. 

You’ve started to build the relationship and connection. What you can ask for now, is an informational interview. 

Reach out via Linkedin — Hi Melanie, Brian here, we connected a few weeks ago and I’ve been really enjoying the content and thought leadership you share. I’m trying to learn as much as I can about the sports industry and set myself up for success in my career. Could I possibly get 15 minutes of your time on the phone or zoom to ask a few career-focused questions?

Notice, in that outreach, you’ve given very specific parameters. 15 minutes,. Phon or zoom. Questions on sports career.

You’ve told the other person exactly what to expect, and their time commitment. 

This type of activity serves two purposes — you deepen the connection with the person when you talk to them directly…AND you learn about the industry. 

Ask smart questions that help you. Don’t ask superficial questions like who do you think the team will sign in free agency? Ask how did you get your first job in the industry? How important is building my personal brand?  

Now, imagine again, you have this really strong connection, you’ve learned more great stuff about the industry, and because you asked really smart questions you’ve shown yourself to be someone with great potential in the industry.

The internship comes up — you have a really deep connection from inside the organization. 

Same outreach as before — don’t come out and ask them to help you get the internship, ask if they have any advice for you so that you can get the job. Stress how excited you are by the opportunity, would love to b part of the organization and can’t stop thinking about it! Do you have any advice?!

Sell your excitement, people are more apt to help if they feel your passion.

4: Focus your resume

You may not have a lot of experience, but make sure what you do have is tailored to this internship opportunity. Study the internship description, isolate what the skills are they are looking for. Do they want writing experience? Sales experience? Customer service? Marketing? Looks for parallels in your life that lin up with thee needs –waiting tables is a customer service job. Working in promoting your club at school is a marketing job.

Highlight what you do have that aligns with the available roles, rather than worry about what you don’t have.

5: Build a personal website

your resume is 2 dimensional, it doesn’t really let the hiring team know anything about your personality. A website highlighting your professional work, and your personal interests, can go a long way toward the organization believing you are a match for their culture. 

Include a link to your personal website, and your LinkedIn profile, as part of your resume. 

Alright, that should do it for this topic – Jemele great question. Good luck with your internship search. Make a plan to vote. Tune into Moving Forward on Wednesday. And wear a mask. 

I feel these are all reasonable asks. 

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.

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