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5 Ways to Deal With the Frustration of Breaking Into Sports

Trying to land a job – any job – can be a challenging experience. And when it comes to the sports industry, that challenge can easily turn into frustration.

I get a lot of emails that express that frustration such as, “I feel like I can’t break into sports because there’s nowhere to go!” Or, “I feel like my biggest challenge is getting my foot in the door.” Or, “I’ve had two internships with two different professional sports teams and I still can’t find a paying sports job. I must be doing something wrong!”

If you can relate, and I think most of us can, I’ve outlined 5 ways to help you deal with your frustration.

1. Understand you’re not alone. You can find solace knowing everyone else pursuing a sports career is having difficulty just like you are.

2. Change your routine. Many times we get into a rut based on our daily routine. Making a simple change like getting up an hour early in order to work on your career goal will help ease the pain and bring clarity. Small adjustments can make a big difference when it comes to your career.

3. Make to-do lists. You know there are certain things you need to do in order to land a job in sports. Things such as conducting informational interviews, tightening up your resume, learning how to answer tough questions, etc. But for whatever reason, you’re not doing them. One of the easiest and effective ways to get things done is to write down exactly what you need to do. Put it in your calendar. And like Nike says, “Just do it.”

4. Create a small group. There’s a good chance you know other people who are trying to find a job either in sports or another industry. When you find these people, it’s a good idea to meet with each other, even just one person who, on a weekly basis. Use each other as a sounding board to test some ideas. A small group presents a great opportunity to let off some steam, gain confidence and find encouragement from one another.

5. Keep your eye on the prize. And don’t give up! The number one reason people fail to land jobs in sports is not because there aren’t enough jobs. They fail because they let the frustration get the best of them and they simply quit. Don’t let that happen to you! It’s your choice. Create a vision of the outcome you desire in your head and use it as fuel to keep going.

I hope these quick tips help you. Let me know if there’s anything specific you find challenging. I’d love to help any way I can.

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20 Responses to 5 Ways to Deal With the Frustration of Breaking Into Sports

  1. dmfreedom May 23, 2011 at 11:13 am #

    Interesting post. I think that things like social media have made it easier than ever to get jobs in sports. Increasingly my advice to people who want to break into the game is to manage the social media of an athlete or team BUT….

    Be realistic. You have to start at the bottom. If you’re going for an ‘N’ sport (NFL, NBA, NASCAR etc) then you’re going up against the best of the best, but if you choose a slightly more niche sport you can built an impressive CV much more easily.

  2. ChrisMcKinney May 23, 2011 at 12:26 pm #

    @dmfreedom I agree! As much as some folks may not like to hear this, the best way to get your foot in the door — with any company in any industry — is to give away your expertise for free.

    It’s like sampling. The biggest companies in the world do it: Coca-Cola, Starbucks, Internet plugin-type companies, etc..

    I built my other business using the same strategy: by giving away free grand opening events to Wells Fargo, Staples, and AT&T. Now we do all their grand opening events and make a crap load of money.

    With this company, SPORTS LAUNCH, same strategy is in play. I give away some free content, speak for free, and at some point, there will be a tipping point.

    Launching a career works the same. If you don’t know anyone (with hiring power or influence), the best way to meet them is to figure out what you’re great at and how it can benefit the companies you’re targeting and let ’em sample it. (Perfect for Social Media.)

    My suggestion is to go for the big-name guys when you do it. For one, they expect free stuff, so it’s easier to approach them. But mainly, you want the halo effect. I know a company that gave Emmitt Smith a big media room, basically for cost. He was able to parlay that into a big payoff. 1) His teammates; and 2) Prospects/Emmitt Fans

  3. tejones May 25, 2011 at 9:04 pm #

    It seems like I am constantly pointing folks toward your article Chris. good stuff!

  4. SteveatGameFace May 28, 2011 at 8:11 am #

    @ChrisMcKinney @dmfreedom Chris, I’m sorry to disagree, but I think the worst thing a college graduate can do is willingly give away their time and talents for free to try to demonstrate value to a company. Frankly, it is counterintuitive. Why would a team see value in your skills if you don’t even have the confidence to expect to be paid for your work? You sound like a very special person that found a way to overcome this fundamental limitation of the ‘free’ model. Because you are special, not everyone can follow your example…

    As a comparison, teams PAY Game Face to find them talent. Why would they do that? None of that talent works for free. They have demonstrated their value by paying their dues, but they got PAID to do it. I agree with you if you are referring to college students and excellent, well-planned internship programs. Otherwise, I’ve said all I can on this topic…

  5. joemcgrathjr May 30, 2011 at 7:01 pm #

    I was hired on March 21, 2011 to work for a sports team as an Account Executive which then after I was hired made the decision to outsource their ticket sales which I was hired for. At this point I have been laid off since May 5, 2011 and have been stressed and frustrated and was declined for unemployment. I still help the team out on game days doing operations and player appearances. If anyone has contacts with a team’s hiring full time in operations and or customer service please contact me

  6. SteveatGameFace May 31, 2011 at 8:47 am #

    @joemcgrathjr If anyone can help, Joe, please do. He and I connected and I would have assisted him to the best of my ability. Unfortunately, right now we aren’t seeing many jobs in customer service and/or operations.

    You’ll need to check Joe’s references, but he is worth a conversation.

    Steve M.

  7. Tvalcorn June 9, 2011 at 5:42 pm #

    Chris this is such a great article and I only wish I had found it 3 months ago! I tried breaking into the industry for such along time before someone gave me similar advice. I applied for job upon job upon job before someone finally suggested that they would love to have me work in a voluntary capacity with them. I threw my self in 100%, helped out at a national benr, met countless numbers of my childhood heros. However the best thing to come out if giving up so much if my time for free is that they aw my work ethic, my passion for sport and my determination to reach my dreams. Now, 3 months after I finished with them I have been asked to join them in a paid capacity. I have quit my interim job, and thrown 100% in once again…
    Patience, passion and networking… Thats what ive learnt…
    Good luck to everyone trying to get a foot in the door, just show your dream company how invaluable you are to them and keep a positive attitude.

  8. SteveatGameFace June 9, 2011 at 5:56 pm #

    @Tvalcorn …and relevant skills. Without skills, you won’t get a job…

  9. ChrisMcKinney June 9, 2011 at 6:01 pm #

    @Tvalcorn Way to hang in there, Tvalcorn! Love to hear success stories of perseverance. You have a bright future. Continue giving 100%. Keep in touch.

    – Chris

  10. SteveatGameFace June 9, 2011 at 6:06 pm #

    @ChrisMcKinney @Tvalcorn I love your enthusiasm, Chris. Sometimes I can be too buttoned up I guess. Thanks for lightening the mood.

  11. DougPotter15 June 14, 2011 at 2:49 pm #

    I love #2 on this list, as any people get into a routine and soon feel their life is stagnating. Changing your routine can create a psychological sense of accomplishment that can lead to increased self-optimism.

    Piggy-backing off changing your routine, I would like to emphasize a term thrown around a lot and quite frankly, quite corny, but truthful: Going above and beyond. Especially in the world of sports, going above and beyond will open doors you never thought possible. If you talk to well established sports professionals such as @ChrisMcKinney, they will tell you that they got to where they are today because of hard work and dedication. Nobody will hire you because you talk yourself up, you must back up your words with actions noticed by others.

    Networking, researching, working for free, and making sacrifices are all crucial aspects of breaking into the sports industry.

    Great tips Chris!

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