I couldn’t believe what I read today. It may be the worst advice I’ve ever heard for college students in sport managemet about to graduate. This poor advice included:
“Early specialization is a huge mistake. Selecting one area to pursue for your career path is ludicrous.”
Let me tell you what’s ludicrous: Entitled college students believing they deserve a job because, well, they have a college degree. The sad truth is that students have been sold a bill of goods by the student loan industry (and colleges themselves) promising the world, but instead delivering a mountain of debt.
If you don’t have a clear focus as to what you want to do in sports — and what specific value you can bring to an organization — you’re going to GET YOUR ASS HANDED TO YOU in the real world. Telling college grads not to specialize is like telling Andrew Luck or RG3 to put down the football and work on blocking and tackling.
Without having a specific direction, or a career path outlined, you’re like a tumble weed blowing in the wind, or a rudderless ship heading nowhere. You don’t need to spend $150K on a college degree in order to do that.
How are you going to market yourself for a job without a special identity?
What companies are going to waste time interviewing someone who brings nothing special to the table? Without an expertise, or at least the drive to become great within a specific area, why would anyone hire you? OK, if you’re in 3rd grade, sure, try piano, try soccer, try choir… don’t worry about specializing. But if you’ve just graduated from college, you are now officially in the marketing business. And you’re in charge of marketing the brand called “You.”
Here’s more bad advice:
“Forget about turning your passion into a job and focus on some basic business and interpersonal skills.”
Passion is one of the most overused (and misused!) words in the career development world. More than likely you’re passionate about many different things. Food. Sports. Music. Design. Whatever. But when it comes to your career (and you want to be happy), it’s crucial that you identify what kind of work lights your fire. Why in the world would you pick a career you’re not passionate about? That’s insane! After all, you’re going to spend 80% of your waking hours at work, or thinking about work, so why not choose something you love? It’s your choice. Not your parents. Not your friends. And certainly not your professors!
You Have To WORK To Get What You Want
Everyone is passionate about sports. So what. Who cares? What kind of work — behind the sports scenes — are you in love with?
When Mark Cuban bought the Dallas Mavericks, sure, he was passionate about the Mavs, but he was also excited about all the work he was facing to turn the franchise around. Before he bought the club, he would sit in the stands and identify 100 things he could do better than the current ownership. He was not just passionate about basketball, his passion was to do things better, to deliver more value to the fans. Because his passion was focused on the work, the Mavericks are now a model franchise in the NBA.
Telling students to, “forget about turning your passion into a job” is like telling Michael Dell, Steve Jobs and Bill Gates to, “forget about computers, forget about changing the world, forget about building something beautiful… stay in college and keep your options open.” That’s pitiful advice.
If you’re a college student, or a recent grad, figure out what you’re good at and what kind of work you’re passionate about. Then figure out which companies will pay you for doing that. Then, go market yourself to those companies.
Now that’s sound advice.