How to Turn Your Dead End Job into a Sports Career
To survive, and hopefully thrive, we work, we earn, we spend and we enjoy. This isn't just the American way, it’s the human condition, and there is nothing wrong with it. Unless you are working somewhere you can’t stand to be.
Most people dream of a special career that they love, so why do we all so often miss that dream?
When you are young, you can point to the future and say, ‘that is when I’ll make my mark’, but sometimes life changes, and the next thing you know you aren't in that dream career, you’re just trying to get by.
The day will come where you will look back and lament the decisions you didn't make. Maybe you’ll blame others, maybe you’ll blame yourself.
None of these things help.
It’s time to look forward.
Thousands, possibly millions, of people dream every year about sports careers, it’s time to craft a simple plan to turn your dead end job into something special.
Phase 1: Analyze Yourself and Your Skills
Even if you’re career has consisted of a long list of nothing jobs, the fact is, you've learned and accomplished more that you know.
Put on your positive thinking hat for a moment and start really digging in to who you are.
- You have a dead end job – well what have you learned there? Don’t get lazy and mumble nothing, like eeyore would. Have you learned sales? Marketing? Human resources? Managing people? Hiring? Firing? Budgeting? These are all skills that are applicable in almost any industry.
- Start writing down accomplishments, really think – how have I impacted my dead end industry? Did you increase sales or revenue? Did you improve efficiency? Did you generate additional business partnerships?
- If you went to college, look through your old books or course work, sometimes they can refresh your memory for something you've learned and possibly loved once. These are skills! They may be rusty, but they are concepts you are familiar with and can be redeveloped again.
This is just phase one, but after even just this exercise you should start to have a picture of what kind of sports career might be suited for you.
Let’s say you've discovered that you have some solid skills and experience in sales, and that when you really think about it, that’s what you enjoy doing because you like to connect with other people. You just aren't inspired by what you are currently selling.
According to Bart Foley, Vice President/General Manager of ROOT Sports Northwest sports careers in media sales are a real possibility,” It’s actually not that difficult to get into television or radio ad sales. Most college graduates are gravitating toward other fields like technology and thus, it’s never been easier to get started. There are support positions like Sales Assistants and Sales Coordinators that work behind the scenes and those too are great places to learn the ropes.”
When we are stuck in a dead end job, everything seems insurmountable so we just keep plugging along, willing to accept change will never come our way.
Not anymore. Change is coming for you.
Phase 2: Understand the Skills Necessary
Sometimes the most important skill isn't something you can learn in a classroom.
“I'm looking for people who are hungry, passionate and willing to do whatever it takes to get the job done,” says FuelTV’s Steve Becker.
“I'm a Coordinating Producer, but I'm not afraid to do intern or Production Assistant work if it's going to help get the job done. You can teach people how to log, pick good highlights and sound bites, etc., but desire and willingness to do whatever needs to be done are traits that are inherent and those are the people that I want on my team.”
But there are skills that need to be learned, and that is where our job board can be particularly helpful.
The most obvious use of a job board is to find job openings (pretty smart of me right), but the real power house opportunity is to research what is happening in your desired section of the sports industry.
After Phase 1 you've rediscovered what skills you have, now you have to figure out what the industry wants and needs.
Here’s how it works:
- Do a keyword search over at WorkinSports.com in the area where you have skills. If you click the link you’ll follow a keyword search for ‘Sports Marketing’.
- Start opening up job descriptions, but don’t concern yourself with location, these aren't necessarily jobs you’ll plan on applying to.
- Read the job skills/requirements and begin writing them all down in a master list
- 5-7 jobs should be enough to get you started.
- Compare the skills employers are looking for, with what you already have
This step is about confirming your strengths and pointing out your weaknesses. You may find out, you have what companies are looking for. Or you may find out you need work in certain areas.
Really focus on the tangible skills, like a certain software or technology, because that is where you can make up the gap easiest.
For example, if a job is requiring 10 years of experience and you have three, there is not much you can do but keep working.
But if a job requires experience with a certain CRM system (customer relationship management) that you aren't familiar with, but you have worked with other CRM systems before, well then you can set a goal to start learning the new industry standard.
Which brings us to….
Phase 3: Write Out Your Goals
The first phases were about discovering who you are, now we’re going to put a plan together for who you want to be.
Here are some poignant sayings I had nothing to do with:
- “Write your goals down, if they are not written down they are just dreams” – Brian Kim
- “Man is a goal seeking animal. His life only has meaning is he is reaching out and striving for his goals.” Aristotle (I couldn’t find a link to his blog?)
- “If you don’t know where you are going, you might end up someplace else” - Yogi Berra
- “Your goals are the road maps that guide you and show you what is possible for your life” – Les Brown, American speaker and author
Forgetting all the puffery for a second and getting back to data – according to a a study conducted by Gail Matthews, Ph.D., at the Dominican University, individuals with written goals achieved approximately 50% more of their goals than those without written goals.
In phase two, we discussed the discovery of skills that are needed in various sports careers. Now we can turn that discovery into specific measurable goals, like:
- Over the next three months I will learn Microsoft CRM
- I will take an online class to learn Final Cut Pro editing by June
- By Thanksgiving I will learn how Google Adwords works and the strategies behind it
- In the next three years I’m going to acquire all the skills necessary to find a job behind the scenes in sports broadcasting
Goals are something you can’t give up on, no matter how hard it gets to see the finish line, “The biggest piece of advice I can give is the biggest cliche there is - don't give up,” says NFL on Fox Sideline Reporter Laura Okmin.
“I don't remember how many tapes I sent out before I finally got my break, but it definitely wasn't my first or my 10th. I made 10 thousand dollars for my first job in Montgomery, Alabama working sports on the weekends and news during the week. It took a long time to crack that door open but I was there just one year until I moved up to Chattanooga, Tennessee. That first door was the hardest to push open. I'm so thankful that I kept pushing.”
Already you know who you are, you've discovered the skills you need to enhance and you have a list of goals to get you to the ultimate destination.
Now we have to get you up to speed in the sports industry.
Phase 4: Time to Study
Part of succeeding in any industry is understanding what is special and unique about it. If I walked into a Physicians convention tomorrow I would not be able to converse with anyone there, I’d stand out for the wrong reasons.
Being up to speed in the sports industry does not mean you know who won the big game last night, or came in second in your fantasy football league. It means you understand the business going on behind the operation.
Start reading trade magazines and blogs, there is a bevy of free information out there that you need to start being familiar with in these sectors:
- Sports Law
- Sports Broadcasting Rights
- Ticket Sales
- Sports Merchandising
- Sports Technology
Educate yourself in these areas if you are going to break free from your dead end world. Being able to speak intelligently about the issues facing various parts of the sports industry will set you apart in the interview phase. Plus, it will give you confidence because you've taken the time to learn what is current.
One of the underused methods of learning is by commenting on blogs. Most people comment on ESPN or other major sites to be insulting or to try to show how smart they are. Because of this, commenting gets a bad rap.
Try going to a blog you've read for a while and ask a question in the comments. You’ll be amazed how many times you get a thought-provoking answer. Look at our blog, I wrote an article titled “Entry Level Sports Jobs with Real Growth Potential” while it only got 8 comments, I responded to every single one in great detail. You’ll be amazed to see the intelligent responses you can get from commenting and asking questions.
Truth is, this very post was inspired by a Facebook question from one of our fans who asked, “I’m 30 years old and I hate my job –what should I do?”
I started writing out this huge response…and then I stopped and said, “I’m going to write this up for you in a blog post, stay tuned, I’ll email it to you.”
Phase 5: Volunteer
Interning is the absolute best way to start finding your way in the sports or entertainment industry. At an internship you’ll get hands-on experience and work next to people you can learn so much from. Internships are the new job interview, and your best opportunity to prove your worth to a potential employer.
But what if you are already out of college and can’t get an internship? Volunteer.
If you want to get into coaching – approach a small college program and offer to volunteer.
If you want to be a scout – identify some lower level area scouts for your favorite team and see if you can shadow them for the day.
If you want to work in sports television – contact the main desk and see if they need any volunteers to log tapes or watch and record games.
When you are volunteering you become a recognizable face in the organization you choose. It’s not ideal, and can be taxing, but if you leverage the opportunity the right way it can have great results. Here’s what I mean:
- Take the time to network with the people around you
- Do every task to the best of your ability; don’t think anything is below you
- Show passion
- Once you've established yourself a bit and people know who you are, start asking questions – how do you break in full time? What type of positions are the hardest to fill? Do you ever hear of full-time jobs at other places?
You’ll be surprised how many people will help you if you have the right attitude.
The idea here is to give you hope and motivation – don’t just sit in your dead end cubicle wishing you were doing something you loved. Follow this simple plan and you never know, it just might set you free.
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