Understanding the Power you Have in Your Sports Career

northwestern masters in sports administration

When you decide to enter the workforce employers have all the power.

They decide what they want in an employee and whether you are a match, determining your future within their company with great impunity.

The balance of power is all in their hands.

But prior to entering the employment cauldron you hold that power, how you choose to use it will directly influence your later ability to match up with employer wants and needs.

If you are unsure what power I am referring to, it is the ability to choose where you go to school and what you study. This choice, combined with your effort and your personal accountability, sets in motion your future opportunities.

The question we are asked often is, how do you choose amongst the plethora of sports management undergraduate and graduate programs?

For the sports industry I suggest a four-pronged research approach into: faculty, curriculum, alumni and location.

Faculty: Who are they and how active are they in the sports industry? Have they spent their lives in research dens, dark to the world happening around them, or are they adjunct professors active in the industry by day, teaching by night?

Curriculum: What is the focus of the program? What options are available? Do you get excited when you read course descriptions? Look for red flags amongst the course offerings. If you want to work in sports marketing, but there are no classes focused in that area, I’d call that a red flag.

Alumni: The ability to leverage your graduation from a respected program with a well-connected alumni is more powerful than you think. Your goal is to gain employment post-graduation, and if your program graduates successful sports industry mavens, you have built in connections in the marketplace.

Location: Being in the right area will provide opportunities for internships and introductions to local sports businesses, paving your way for future employment. Of course, there are wonderful online programs and relocating isn’t always an option for some, but when it is, keep this in consideration.

When you apply this filter to your research, one program in particular keeps appearing – Northwestern’s Master’s in Sports Administration.

“Chicago is a powerhouse for the sports industry with many opportunities for our students to obtain valuable internships, externships, entry-level positions, or the opportunity to move up into upper management across a broad spectrum of positions in sports-related industries,” says Douglas Bakker, Adjunct Professor in the Northwestern MSA program.

“Our faculty bring real world experience – we are all adjunct faculty meaning that we have real life experiences that can be shared in each class session that is relevant and current. The industry is consistently changing and by having faculty that are directly experiencing that every day, it allows the classroom to come alive with real life case studies on a weekly basis.

“Finally, the Northwestern brand is a powerful one that allows future employers to be confident that a Northwestern MSA student received a quality education and met the academic standards expected of a Northwestern degree.”

Many who envision careers in the sports industry become blinded by the idea of working for a professional team. In fact, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban one famously ranted that no one should major in sports management, since there are only a few hundred sports teams and not enough jobs.

Cuban, like many, had a very narrow focus into what the sports industry truly represents. Northwestern students are introduced to a much wider world of sports opportunity.

“One of the great aspects of Northwestern’s MSA program is that it can really open the eyes of our students to opportunities within the sports industry outside of working directly for a team.  We find that many of our students find that their niche in a sports-related field, whether it be corporate sponsorships, marketing, social media management, analytics, or other avenues that are addressed in our numerous elective offerings,” adds Bakker. how to prepare for your sports job search ebook

Most collegiate programs that provide a sports related curriculum have a certain career path emphasis – some lean towards sales, others more towards the economics and financial side of sports – Northwestern has a slightly different approach offering a multitude of options so that the students can craft their own experience. It’s about choices.

“The Northwestern Masters in Sports Administration program allows a student to go in many different directions and does not push a student towards a certain track.  The variety and breadth of our core classes and electives allows a student to discover the industry that best fits their strengths and desires,” informs Bakker, himself an associate athletics director at DePaul University.

“However, many of our graduates tend to travel down the career path of sports-related marketing and sponsorship management.  Our faculty profile is strong in this field and therefore the resulting education and connections that can be made provide intrinsic encouragement to such interested students.”

The vast majority of graduate school attendees are also hard at work, building up their career portfolio while hoping an advanced degree will heighten their career ceiling. The Northwestern MSA program allows for this personal growth by scheduling all of their classes at night and on weekends.

By enrolling in the Northwestern MSA program you are buying into the power of the Northwestern brand, which is far reaching and brings opportunities with it.

“There is rarely a week that goes by that my inbox isn’t abuzz with potential internships, job opportunities, weekend volunteer or networking opportunities that we pass on to MSA students. Many of these opportunities come from the connections we have made in the Chicago area, but also from our growing alumni base.

“The value of a Northwestern degree cannot be overlooked and the Northwestern brand has the ability to open many doors for our students that may otherwise been shut.”

The choice is yours.
By Brian Clapp | April 19, 2016
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