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WIS Podcast: Working in College Athletics w/Auburn Assistant AD Dan Heck

By iHire | September 29, 2021

This month, WorkInSports released the Inaugural State of Sports Hiring Report, publishing the survey results and takeaways of 340 job seekers in the sports industry. We also looked at the landscape of one of the biggest employers in the field, college athletics, from the lessons they learned after an unorthodox 2020-21 COVID-19 affected schedule to how they have innovated working events today.

On our latest WorkInSports Podcast, we go a little deeper into the realm of college athletics as VP of Content and Engaged Learning Brian Clapp sits down with Auburn University’s Assistant AD for Marketing and Fan Engagement Dan Heck. He details his journey from a marketing graduate assistant at Central Michigan University to his current post running the Tigers’ marketing efforts in the football hotbed of the SEC.

The Draw of College Athletics

There is a “cool factor” to working in sports that has traditionally drawn a large pool of candidates to any job opening to be part of the action, and college athletics is no different in this regard. Flip on any football game across the country on Saturday and you’ll see packed stadiums of diehard fans cheering their lungs out to create an energetic atmosphere. Working in college athletics offers a chance to live in and provide that environment. As a marketer, Heck is responsible for putting on the gameday pageantry  and giving fans a connection to Auburn’s student-athletes.

For people like Heck, the draw of working in college sports starts with being a fan. Working behind the scenes,getting to know student-athletes and coaches as people while helping their programs succeed, the community atmosphere fostered by college towns, and the relationship between universities and the cities that house them are appealing for a fan.

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A Well-Traveled Career Path

As Brian notes in both his career and his college athletics connections on LinkedIn, moving up in the sports industry frequently means moving around. As the job market heats up and boards are flooded with positions in college athletics, there are opportunities across the country available for those who have the will to travel and meet them.

For Heck, his career moves thrust him into the national spotlight when he went from Central Michigan to the University of Arizona, and within a month of his arrival the Wildcats’ baseball team captured the College World Series. From that experience, he learned to be prepared to win so that when the final out was recorded, his marketing team could capitalize on the victory quickly.

The entire episode is full of pearls of wisdom from Heck, including:

1.    Gaining confidence and exuding competence in a room full of legendary coaches. .
2.    What the career path is like for people looking to break into college athletics.
3.    Engaging with a fanbase outside of game days.

Catch all of Dan Heck’s insights by listening to the full episode and be sure to subscribe to the WorkInSports Podcast wherever you listen so you never miss a topic!

 


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