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The First Step to Launching Your Sports Career

sports careerIf your dream is to have a sports career, but have no idea where to start, you’re not alone.

I get a ton of email from college students and recent grads telling me they would love a career in sports, but don’t have a clue how to get started.

So I ask them:

“What do you want to do in sports?”

And the answer I get most is

“I want to work for [my favorite team].”

There’s nothing wrong with that as a goal. After all, I landed a job with my favorite team. (And BTW, if I can do it, you definitely can). But the thing is, that’s the wrong answer.

With all the media attention and the excitement surrounding the team, it’s easy to have tunnel vision. But you need to understand that teams only make up 6% of the entire industry. There are hundreds of employers connected to the teams. That’s where you’ll find the most opportunity.

A simple perspective…

In order to launch a sports career, there are only three things you must do:

  1. Set up a few interviews
  2. Get a couple of job offers
  3. Accept one of the offers.

Pretty simple, huh?

First Step To Your Sports Career

So, if that’s all you have to do, your initial focus should be on securing interviews. In order to do that, your first step is to answer this question

“What do you want to do in sports?”

It’s amazing how many people struggle with this question. Even Sport Management students and grads have trouble articulating exactly what they want to do.

But it’s a crucial question to answer because it gives you direction. Plus, who’s going to hire a person that doesn’t have a clue about what they want to do?

This tactic will help you…

If you’re having a hard time answering that question, this little power move will help you: Go to the library and pick up the SportsBusiness Journal, Brand Week and The Wall Street Journal. Inside those pages you will find details of business activity within the sports industry. Your job is to find a handful of articles that get you excited. Not from a fan’s point of view, but from that of a businessperson.

The second part of this tactic is a visualization exercise. As you read those articles, I want you to project yourself into those business deals. Imagine how you — the businessperson — could possibly fit into those business scenarios. Ask yourself these questions: Where could I bring value? What area of this enterprise could I spend a lot of time working — and enjoy the process?

Think beyond the team. Think beyond the sport. Think like a businessperson and take the first step toward launching your sports career by asking yourself this question:

What, specifically, do I want to do in the sports business industry?

So, what do you want to do in the sports industry?  Let us know in the comments below or tweet out to us on Twitter @sportsnetworker.  Who knows, someone reading this article could be the person to help you get a sports career!


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6 Responses to The First Step to Launching Your Sports Career

  1. scott_wooley March 14, 2012 at 12:18 am #

    Thanks for the article, Chris. Is it essential to have an internship before landing your first job in sports?

  2. karoutcm March 14, 2012 at 7:27 am #

    I agree with you. Having a clear project is  the project and tactics is fundamental.
    Nevertheless the students often do the same mistake… they are all focusing on their favourite team instead of trying to get an intership in a small team (semi-professionnal).
    Small teams are the best places for the learning by doing process…

  3. ChrisMcKinney March 17, 2012 at 12:05 pm #

     @scott_wooley Thanks, Scott. It’s not that you have to have an internship to land your first job in sports. It’s that an internship does a lot for your career: 1) You can sometimes test-drive different jobs; 2) get a look behind the scenes at different industries, and ; 3) Build your contacts; 4) Gain valuable experience.
    In some markets internships can be as tough to land as a first job. If you or anyone that reads this, I highly recommend creating your own internship. Organize a golf tournament or basketball tournament. Give some of the proceeds away to charity. Have the charities volunteers help execute the event. Another idea is to create a speaker series. This is even easier: simply invite sports executives to talk to your group. Take pictures. Get testimonials from the audience. And from the speaker about how much she enjoyed working with you. If you package it right, it can become a killer tool to sell yourself for your first job in sports.

  4. ChrisMcKinney March 17, 2012 at 12:09 pm #

     @karoutcm I agree, karoutcm. Small teams can be a great target. Too often minor leagues are overlooked.

  5. ChrisMcKinney April 4, 2012 at 6:22 pm #

    @jbarbarito @sportsnetworker Thanks for sharing, JB!

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