Where Do You Fit in the Sports Industry? Work In Sports Podcast

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

A couple of housekeeping notes before we get into today’s sports career-focused question — want to welcome the newest member of the Work In Sports team, Laura Wilhelm! Laura just recently joined us as an account executive, and she’ll be working directly with me to help sell some of our products focused on helping others advance in their career.  

We have our sports career game plan, focused on the strategies and tactics necessary to get hired in the sports industry. We also have our student game plan, which is similarly focused on career and professional development, but for any industry. 

And we’ve also developed an entire suite of new tools to help sports employers hire the right staff more efficiently. As I know from going through the hiring process with Laura — hiring is tough — talent acquisition managers tell me all the time, we get tons of applicants, but most are not qualified. 

Well, we took that advice to heart and thought, how can we help sports employers find the most qualified candidates more efficiently. And we’ve done it. 

Laura will be reaching out to sports employers and helping introduce them to these new tools that can really help them hire more efficiently and effectively — so welcome Laura, and if any of these products sound interesting to you, your organization, or for your school or university — reach out and I’ll connect you with laura! 

Or you can talk to me – it’s not like I won’t talk to you — I’m a talker, that won’t change. I just need help and laura is a boss. 

Ok, today’s topic — 

Lots of people with time on their hands have been asking me — how do I find out where I fit in the industry?

Here’s a specific version of this question from Bart in Minnesota —

“Hey Brian, big fan of the podcast thanks for your continued help and guidance. I’m a college sophomore and I love sports, but I have no idea what to do for my career path. Can you help me understand the future of the sports world, and where I may fit in it?”

Jeez, Bart, that’s a heavy responsibility. 

First off, you don’t meet many Barts nowadays — I had a great friend in high school named Bart, but I don’t think I know too many others. Bart Scott? I don’t know him, but that’s the only other Bart I can think of. 

Ok, back on topic — 

Finding your fit in the industry is an important topic — I started a few months back trying to make one of those cool diagrams, not an infographic, more of a choose your own adventure – based on sports careers.

Like one of those — do you like to talk to people — yes or no — follow that path, then different questions from there, with the idea it would land you in a category or bucks that could help you explore this area. 

It got too hard. I may resurface that idea later…but really when you start to break down all the possibilities, it’s like an ice cream headache waiting to happen.

This is the advice I believe in wholeheartedly — this is a personal decision, that is ultimately up to you, BUT I’ll help guide some. 

The first idea — go to our site WorkInSports.com and enter in keyword searches for terms. NOT job terms, rather entry-level terms. 

Search for the word “associate” — this will return a myriad of potential opportunities that are entry-level or close to it. 

I just did the search and came back with 1,852 sports jobs out of nearly 12k on our site.

As I look through the openings I see:

  • Associate Product Manager
  • Associate Artist
  • Advertising Operations Associate
  • Production Associate
  • HR associate
  • Pro Tennis Operations Associate
  • Social Media Associate

The list goes on… read these job descriptions, and see what stands out to you. When I was coming up I knew I wanted to work in Sports TV, so I could lean that direction in my job search. For you, if you are unsure, you need to get where I was, and the best way to do that is by exposing yourself to the opportunities that are out there. 

Read what a social media associate does — check out an Associate Product Manager, or associate in operations, or events… start to do this research and picture yourself in these roles. 

Some may be focused on live events, and maybe that isn’t the right choice right now — or maybe it is, you’re a sophomore, by the time you graduate sports and fans will likely be a thing again.

Find where your personality fits. One thing I learned as a manager is that everyone who works for you is different and you have to lean into their skills.

I had some staff that wanted to be in the corner, left alone to think and work. I had others that needed to be the center of it all to really thrive and feed of the energy. Figure out where you fit, if you are more reserved and love math, look at data-driven roles. I’ not pigeonholing people and careers, just typing to give some thought to it all. 

If you don’t find the jobs you like doing the associate search try others — use the word coordinator or assistant play around finding entry-level roles and see what you naturally get excited by.

Now as for the future of the industry — I think you should go back and listen to the interview I recently conducted with Josh Walker from Sports innovation Lab — the sports fan is changing. Not just because of COVID, but because our wants are developing. 

We want digital experiences, more robust in-arena experience, more experiential uh, experiences. 

The idea that Josh presents is of a Fluid Fan who migrates through many different types of experiences – you can be a Yankees fan, but never buy tickets to the game. There are other ways to reach that fan and create revenue-generating experiences. 

Traditionally sports teams generate revenue two ways — sales, and broadcast rights. Expand. 

But, sports needs to diversify and COVID made that very clear. What else is there? That innovation and expansion of the event into new realms is the exciting future of our industry. The more young professionals can push these boundaries and explore new ways of maximizing the sports experience — that to me is the future.  It’s bigger than just, we’ll launch an artificial intelligence studio, it needs to be bigger and broader and all-inclusive. 

That’s the future of sports if you ask me, start looking at sports as a technology business, not just an entertainment one. Think bigger.

Pretty exciting if you ask me!

I hope that answers your question Bart – thanks as always for listening and I suggest you connect with Laura Wilhelm the newest Work In Sports staff member on LinkedIn so she can tell you how awesome of a boss I am… I kid I kid… kind of.

Stay safe out there everyone!

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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