(This is a guest article by Mark Washo)
I host a weekly online Sports Management chat as an Adjunct Professor for Sports Management Worldwide where I’m able to invite guest speakers from within the sports industry to participate. Over the past few months the students have learned from executives at many top teams, companies and agencies.
I also have been on the sports conference circuit in the past year, participating in numerous sports business panels. Whether I am sitting on a panel or facilitating chats, I hear the same reoccurring advice about how to break into the sports industry. Here are some tips from recent calls to help give sports job seekers a head start.
1. Network, network, network- build your pro sports Rolodex
- One of the most important things you can do when trying to break into sports, is to build your Rolodex of professional sports contacts. Learfield’s Mary Lee Gilliland comments “Job seekers should seek out events and opportunities to meet as many sports executives and people working in the industry as they can. The first place sports executives look when they have open positions, is within their own network. I receive dozens of e-mails a year from my friends in the business asking me if I know of candidates that would be qualified for their open positions.”
2. Ask for informational interviews
- Another great way to build your Rolodex of contacts is to ask for informational interviews. Chris Canetti COO of the Houston Dynamo states, I am surprised to learn many people are intimidated to approach sports executives.” Meanwhile, I can tell you that I rarely get approached for informational interviews and would be more than happy to grant them.” Do not be afraid to ask for an informational interview.
3. Attend sports marketing conferences, seminars and job fairs
- More and more companies, resources and websites such as SportsNetworker.com now exist to aid you in your job seeking efforts. Chris Keeney of Lone Start Sports encourages students to attend as many industry events as possible, “a proven way to build your sports contact Rolodex is to attend sports marketing conferences, seminars and job fairs.
4. Intern or volunteer
- Every sports executive I talk to mentions the fact that they have volunteer opportunities at their team. Beth Cunningham of Northwestern University and Brian Flenner of Ohio State both indicate they need help both days of game as well as in the office during the week. “If you volunteer and do a great job, you will further your efforts towards breaking into the industry”, encourages Beth Cunningham.
5. Resumes and cover letters need to be as professional as possible
- Drew Young from the Philadelphia Eagles has reviewed hundreds of sports job seeker resumes warns, “If your resume is not professionally done, highlighting your strengths and background you will get passed over.” Also if there are typos, miss-spelling or poor grammar, this also can dismiss you as a viable candidate.” Therefore, make sure you have at lest two or three other people review your resume.
6. Prepare for interviews (job interviews and informational interviews)
- Interview preparation includes researching the executives you will be interviewing with, familiarizing yourself with the teams ticketing and marketing programs, and the overall team itself. Ralph Rosello reminds job seekers “you should prepare educated questions, since every interviewer will give you an opportunity to ask questions.”
7. Utilize Social Media tools to build industry knowledge and relationships
- “There is a wealth of knowledge out there on social media networks and communities just waiting to be tapped” says John Guppy from Gilt Edge Soccer Marketing, a sports social media expert. “Social media has also broken down many of the barriers to starting, developing, and maintaining relationships. While I don’t recommend harassing sports executives on Twitter, if used correctly, tools such as this do represent a way for a job seeker to raise their profile in the eyes of an individual and begin to establish a connection.”
8. Stay persistent a “no for now” is not a no forever
- Matt Difebo from the newly formed Difebo Company tells job seekers, “Breaking into Sports is NOT an easy task. However, once you get in the sky is the limit. I have seen too many potential sports job seekers get discouraged and give up; only to miss opportunities that would have come their way.” If you follow all the tips presented in this article, and stay persistent, over time you will land a position with a professional sports team.
9. If at first you cannot get it, consider gaining sales experience
- The final piece of advice for you to consider is that if for some reason you cannot land a position in sports, the next best experience you can gain outside the industry is sales or revenue generating experience. In all sports businesses revenue generation is king. Therefore if you can learn how to generate revenue, no matter what profession or industry, you will be valuable to the sports industry.
Mark Washo is an 18 year professional sports executive and author of Break Into Sports Through Ticket Sales. He is the current President of the Washington Freedom. Mark has experience in Minor League Baseball, the NBA, MLS and now Women’s Professional Soccer. Please visit www.breakintosports.biz to learn more.
So relieved to see this! I have been deluged by ‘how do I break into sports?’ Now I have a good place to direct all such queries 🙂
Great post and I can attest to all of these! Tomorrow I’m moving to New York to take a job with a Minor League ball club. I got it after attending the MLB Winter Meetings and the MiLB/PBEO Job Fair. Don’t be afraid to reach out to people beforehand either. I interviewed with 2 MLB teams, because I emailed them prior to the meetings.
Best of luck to everyone!
Anita: glad you enjoy it. There are a few more posts on her on how to break into sports as well in the “sports careers” section of the site.
Megan: Congrats on the new sports job in NY. Which team are you going to be working with? Also, were there a lot of people from the job fair who were as successful as you, or were you contacting some of these potential employers before hand and just meeting up with them at the job fair?
It’s great to see an article that directly touches on how to get into sports.
One more addition to the list for me would be to seek out opportunities in smaller clubs/teams that are local to your area. Chances are they need the help and like you said, you may be able to get into a volunteer or PT role and work your way up.
I see many people go for a MLS job straight away if they are interested in soccer, when a NPSL or PDL team that is in their town is looking just as hard for great talent, and could be a very successful jumping board for them in the future.
Thank you for the article; it was just the information I’ve needed. I’ve been out of college for a long time and I’m looking to find out how to get into sports and this information is a great help.
NO JUMP BASKETBALL ASSOCIATION
We are NOT looking for MONEY. We ARE seeking supporters
and sponsors to help us accomplish our goals. To your associates,
1. Forward this letter and emails to perspective owners.
A. Promotion and advertising for SPORTS, in general,
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and logos and mentions on TV. and radio, once league
is up and running. Check out team names. Bio, Chem, Physics.
FYI: My no. 1 interest, since honors physics in high school = particle physics.
YOUR 100%, TOTALLY OWNED
PROFESSIONAL BASKETBALL TEAM FOR;
FREE PLUS A LITTLE HARD WORK.
OR $9.85 million and WE, do all the work.
YOUR HARD WORK: Newbees Team
1. Pay all salaries, fees, licensing, insurance, rentals
clothing, transportation, housing, misc fees, etc.
associated with pro-team ownership
2. Provide national and local TV., league advertising
at least, until league, is fully formed.
3. Pay standard 7% gross franchise fee, post 1st. season.
4. Provide practice gym, with office for coaches and
GM., for three teams to practice.
5. Are always subject to, and must abide by, league rules.
6. The league retains, first right of refusal.
A. Rates of returns are a little difficult, but would be based
upon sale of 7 to 8k season tickets and attendance
of 12k fans per game. Concession and TV. revenue
would, of course, be significant. YOUR, access to
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B. The list of start ups, that still exist, during the depression
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encouraging. YOU know that we must FIGHT our way
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state, city, company, large investment portfolio, or club,
please, if you are interested, send us a letter or e-mail of
interest, ASAP., to be used to encourage other potential
owners. AT THIS POINT, YOU ARE UNDER NO
OBLIGATIONS AND CAN WITHDRAW AT ANY TIME.
Please respond within ten days of receiving this letter.
D. Through out the history of professional sports, it has been
those of us that are over 40 yrs old that were its main support.
For the first time in history, it is now our turn to play.
We want seniors in bed, in the hospitals, to shot hoops with
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upgrade = 3.7 The Heat??? Celtics will crush them.
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We’re not so sure, but, THERE IS, ONE WAY, TO FIND OUT.
Please remember, that more than 50% of all people in this
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F. Please contact us, within, ten days. Just a letter or e-mail of
interest. You are under NO obligations, as a result. We intend
to solicit multiple investors, for each team.
571 217-5815 email@example.com
founder/ceo: d. dahbu
ps: PLUS 15% franchise ownership.
Counter offers considered. Please forward this, to other
potential owners, if you are, unable to help provide jobs,
for those that gave birth to, all of us. Thank you, so very
much, for your consideration, thus far. First responders,
will have, tremendous, advantages.
This is really helpful to me. I have feared taking up any sport, I didn’t know where to begin or what people would think of me.
Your blog has inspired me and I now realize that every great sports person starts from scratch, not knowing what they are doing.
Thanks for the great guest blog.
Good article, thanks – but one thing, on Point 5 you say “…you have at lest two or three other people “. Think you mean at least. The irony!
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