Four Ways to get the Most out of Your Sports Internship
A small spot in your lower back, an area you aren’t used to feeling much of anything, now trickles with a slow stream of liquid nervousness.
The warm tingle of excitement is rapidly turning to a heart-beating, shallow-breathing, borderline anxiety attack where the best possible result is just getting through the next five to ten minutes without passing out.
If this is how you feel leading up to your first day at your sports internship – good.
If you didn't feel nervous you’d be cocky, and cocky doesn't present itself well. When results matter we automatically feel nervous, and while women claim to glisten I’ll be the first to admit I sweat, my heart races and my breathing shallows.
Sports internships are the first step in your future, where the journey really starts. Sure, classroom experience is important, but internships are more valuable because of the level of interaction. In an internship you aren't just listening you are performing, and that performance can lead to a job after graduation.
[bctt tweet="In an internship you aren't just listening you're performing, and that can lead to a job #sportsbiz"]
Now that you've brushed the sweat aside, regulated your breathing and slowed your heartbeat down to a normal pace – it’s time to make sure when you walk through the front door you walk back out with every possible advantage.
Gain Career Clarity
You are still in control – remember that.
Just because you selected this internship, went through the interview process and were accepted for the role doesn't mean you are bound to this exact career path. The only thing you are bound to is working to the best of your ability while you are present - but if you hate the job, the environment, the pace or the actual work, you have the power to make a left turn in your career path.
Part of this entire internship experience is gaining your clarity, so if the only thing you gain is a deeper knowledge of what you don’t want to do – that is still a win!
Many people force themselves into a career because they think that have already gone so far down the road that they have to follow through. You don’t.
Don’t be afraid to change your route if the warning signs are there. If not, you’ll look back someday from the job you hate and wish you had.
[bctt tweet="Four Ways to get the Most out of Your Sports Internship #sportsbiz"]
Network, Network, Network
Nothing is more annoying than an intern that ignores their assignments and instead focuses on hob nobbing with everyone in the building.
Networking is a secondary part of your internship role, the first is proving yourself and your ability to complete tasks of all shapes and sizes, well. That said, networking is incredibly important so we are going to teach you how to do it right:
- Identify who makes sense to network with: It may seem cool to go talk to the sports anchor or reporter, but if your dream is to be a director or producer that is probably a waste of time. Find out who the decision makers are and target them, even if they are lower on the cool factor.
- Learn the rhythm of the business: Your first week or two should be spent observing and figuring out the slow periods of the day which represent the right time to approach someone you have targeted.
- Prove yourself: If you build up a reputation of quality work, that becomes your warm introduction to someone who may not know you otherwise. For example, if you start small talking with the VP of Marketing your first week on the job they won’t have a clue who you are and it can get awkward quick. But, if you work hard and successfully deliver on a few projects, now when you approach a target they may have heard your name mentioned and the conversation gets easier.
- Be specific: Avoid cheesy small talk, “Hey did you see the big fight Saturday night?” doesn't work. Your networking target has friends in the building that they small talk with - you aren't one of them. Approach them differently – “Hi, I’m Brian I've been interning for a few weeks here and I was wondering if I might be able to discuss some marketing questions that have come up. I really want to learn as much as I can from this experience.” You've subtly flattered your target without slobbering all over them – this stuff works.
You should expect walk out of each sports internship with at least 3-5 well developed new contacts. Now it’s on you to keep those relationships alive. Stay in touch, not over-the-top, just touch base monthly with some valuable update or question they can help you with.
Experience and Resume Building
This is the ultimate goal. The whole reason you are taking this sports internship is to learn things you can’t in the classroom. It goes without saying you should work hard, perform your tasks to the best of your ability, show up on time, present yourself well… yaddy yaddy yadda.
What I want you to focus on is thinking of your achievements in terms of your resume. What things are you achieving that will look impressive during future job interviews.
This conversation happens all the time:
Person A: “I’ve just graduated and I don’t know how to build my resume, the only thing I have done is internships – can you help?”
Person Me: “Sure, what did you achieve on your internships?”
Person A: “I don’t know... stuff.”
Person Me: “I’m sorry I think we have a bad connection…we’re breaking up…I can’t hear you anymore…”
The burden is on you to gain valuable experience while on your sports internships and to take meaningful notes on your achievements – no one else will do this for you.
[bctt tweet="Sports internships are the first step of your future, don't waste the opportunity #sportsbiz"]
Find Your Point-of-View
No matter what career path you decide to pursue you'll have to determine how to approach it. An internship should help:
- If you want to work in sports sales, your internship should help you decide your style for approaching and dealing with clients
- If you want to work in marketing your internship should help you determine your methods for messaging, if you like digital or print, if you are more technical/analytical or creative etc.
- If you want to work in broadcasting, your internship can help you decide if you are more comfortable with a “just the facts” style or a more glitz and glam over-the-top attitude towards presenting news and information.
Being exposed to various viewpoints will help you form your personal perspective about how you will approach the job when it is yours.
Internships are an external evaluation of what you learn in the classroom, they either contradict what your professor’s jam down your throat, or they validate it. Either way, sports internships are much more than just a requirement to graduate and an excuse to leave campus.
Take them seriously and they will help set you up for true success, blow them off and pay the price later.
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