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3 Simple Ways to Gain Sports Industry Experience

sports industry experienceIf you’re pursuing a sports career, one of the most frustrating things you will hear from prospective employers are these two dreaded words: “Experience Required.”

I always thought, “How can I get experience if no one hires me?” It never made sense to me until I started hiring college students and young professionals for a marketing company that I own. With my reputation on the line, we have to weed through hundreds of candidates to find the right fit for my clients.

Whether we’re organizing an NCAA Final Four promotion for Staples, or a simple grand opening event for Wells Fargo, I have to ensure that the people we hire will represent my clients in a highly professional manner.

Experience Relevant to the Job

One of the ways we’re able to rip through all the resumes we receive is by looking for specific experiences relevant to the job we’re hiring for. This tactic helps us uncover some of the best candidates. Sports employers do similar things. They’re looking for resume clues that will lead them to the most qualified people. One of those clues can be found under the “Experience” header.

So, if you’re like the thousands of other aspiring sports executives in need of industry experience, I’ve outlined three simple ways you can get it. Pick one. Or do all three.


Volunteering may be the quickest and easiest way to gain sports industry experience. It may also be the most effective because you can target specific events that match your career goals. Find out where the next sports conference will be held close to where you live and contact the event producer. Or contact event sponsors. Let them know you’re willing and able to help out any way you can.

Volunteering is also an excellent way to network with potential employers. Ask lots of questions. Work at a high level. And above all, do such a bang up job that the person in charge will write you a testimonial.

Organize a Tournament

Putting together participatory sporting events is one of my favorite tactics for gaining experience. For starters, you can make some $$. Secondly, you can lose some $$. That’s the beauty if it. It’s a challenge. And you’ll learn far more rolling up your sleeves and making a ton of mistakes. Just make sure you document what you’ve learned — both the positives and the negatives — so when the day comes and you’re face-to-face with a hiring manager, you can better explain how you can add value to the company.

As for what kind of tournaments you should produce… start with the kind you’ve participated in. 3-On-3 basketball. Golf. Soccer. Doesn’t have to be a huge event. Just plan, promote and execute. And take a ton of pics for your portfolio.

Event Staffing Firms

There are event staffing firms that are dedicated to the sports industry. Seek them out! Some of them partner with sports properties like NFL Experience and NBA Jam Session. Or go direct to sports marketing agencies like Octagon and IMG that hire entry-level event staffers for sports properties they manage.

In some cases, depending what market you live in, you can go to Craigslist dot com and find opportunities there. Target events that excite you. (No kidding!) Whether it’s tennis, or motorsports, or bull riding, find what you love. You’ll always perform at a higher level when you’re working in a stimulating environment.


Another simple way to gain sports industry experience is through internships. I didn’t include internships because it’s common knowledge, especially for college students. However, because some internships are highly competitive, it will be in your best interest to already have some industry experience under your belt before you start the application process. Experience will help you stand out from the crowd. It will also give you a competitive advantage during the interview.

Chris’ Keys

  • Take pictures of the events/projects you work on
  • Get testimonials from event director, participants, sponsors, etc.
  • Record what you learned in a notebook
  • Build a portfolio using the items above (this will be utilized during the interview process)

Do you have any other ideas to gain sports industry experience? Leave your comments below or tweet us!

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