College Sports: A Way to Kick-Start Your Sports Future
College Sports: A Way to Kick-Start Your Sports Future
By Brian Clapp | February 04, 2015
This article is a guest contribution from J Mike Walbert
One of the most important features of your college education is to build a solid foundation for a future in the profession of your choice. If you want to build a career in the sports industry, you can start acquiring the tools you will need while you’re still in college. At this stage, you can pick up a whole arsenal of relevant skills and experience!
As a college student or recent graduate, you may find it difficult, or even impossible, to get the job of your dreams right away. But that shouldn't be your true goal, getting the sports job of your dreams takes time and experience, so set your goals a bit lower initially. Break in. Learn. Network. Explore various career paths. Then reset your goals for something bigger.
But that is the future, right now you need to focus on goal #1 - Break in. Here are a few ideas and strategies on how you can prepare for the sports industry while you’re still in college:
Play/Work for Your College Team
Playing sports at the collegiate level is tough, but not impossible. Just remember, if you are talented enough to make it in collegiate sports don't just perform, learn. You'll have a unique opportunity to see how the business of sports operates from the inside. If you aren't skilled enough to make the team, don't fret, working in the athletic department as a student can help define your talents and give you experience too.
Get the Right Education
As with higher education in any field, the right degree can give you the expertise you will need to become a star in the sports industry. Consider pursuing a Master’s degree in Sports Management it's a great way to differentiate yourself from the crowd of sports fans who think knowing who won the MVP of the 1993 NBA All-Star game qualifies them for a job.
Informational Interviews and Networking
Careers in sports management, communications and sales can become easier if you know more about what is involved. Conducting informational interviews is a great method to learn more about the sports industry from people who are actually employed in it! Contact athletic directors, sales managers or coaches and ask them questions about the industry, how they broke in and what skills you need to succeed.
All sports businesses love some free labor! Approach local organizations and sports teams or volunteer to help out your school��s team with public relations, sales, security, event planning and other areas that will build on your existing talents and experience. They are likely to appreciate your efforts and it’s a great networking opportunity too!
Pursue an Internship
An internship with a sports organization can help you gain more experience and usually gives you school credits too. If you’re effective at managing tasks assigned to you, you might also find that the same organizations offer to hire you after you’ve graduated!
Start Looking for Part-Time Jobs - If you can start working in the field while you’re still in college, you will be able to approach employers with a well-padded resume when you venture into professional sports. Look for entry-level job openings and part-time positions, so you can keep adding experience and references to your CV.
Entry-Level Sports Jobs that Can Give You Valuable Experience
Whether you’re looking at working as a team’s manager, commentator or reporter, you’ll face a variety of hurdles along the way. You will need to start working in any capacity that you can so you can get closer to the job you want in the future. At the same time, you need to consider which entry-level sports jobs will actually benefit you more than the others.
Sales might not seem very appealing, since there isn't much financial benefit at the start (you may earn about $10/hour and a commission), but you are more likely to be hired full-time if you can show that you can sell. In time, you could advance to working on corporate sponsorship and other well-paying areas. Group sales, marketing and promotions are the best way to draw crowds, which is where the money comes in for the organization.
Public relations is another aspect of professional sports that can give you your big break with a potential employer, like NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle, who started his career by working in public relations for the Los Angeles Rams. There are many entry-level jobs and volunteer positions available in public relations, where you can gain experience with media guides or press releases for sports leagues, organizations and clubs.
If you can prepare, organize and handle events exceptionally well, you’ll be set on the path to a permanent career. Most organizations place heavy emphasis on events that attract crowds or corporate sponsors, so show them your management and organization skills and add extra value to your job application profile, all in one go.
The Bottom Line - Start Right Away!
According to Traci Campbell, Promotions Assistant at CBS Radio and Event Presentation Assistant for the Dallas Cowboys, it is hard to gain jobs in professional sports even if you have prior experience. It’s important to keep networking and contact teams or organizations to offer your services. She says, “If you are already out of college, then start emailing and calling. Be persistent, but not annoying”.
Despite the fact that the sports sector has been unaffected by the recent economic downturn and job openings have increased, competition is super-high and there are hundreds of applicants for every open position. If you want to work in pro sports, get used to taking on odd jobs and dealing with various kinds of people.
Attend games and social gatherings where players and managers are present, network with professionals and gain insight into the dynamics of the trade when you observe the way that they interact with each other and people around them. In order to meet your goal, you need to start preparing as early as possible!
About the Author:
J Mike Walbert, is a Texan with a deep passion for sports. He claims to be wedded to Texas Tech and routinely expresses his love for the team. When it comes to rooting for Texas Tech, you can consult Walbert for some interesting ideas. Walbert particularly recommends Red Raider Outfitter to Texas Tech lovers for exciting sports merchandise.
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