By Dr. Howard Gauthier
Ryan is a senior in college and will be graduating in May with a degree in Sports Management. This past semester he took a sports management class where the professor shared six strategies that students should use in order to break into the sports management profession.
As Ryan explored each technique, he found that getting a job in the sports field can be difficult for many people. He found that there are various methods that can be used in order to get a job in the industry. Below is an overview of the six strategies his professor shared with the class.
- Informational Interviews – An informational interview is a technique used by people who are looking to gain knowledge and insights into a particular profession. In college sports, the interviewee will contact someone who is employed in a management position such as an athletic director or an associate athletic director. The interviewee will schedule a meeting and will be prepared with a list of questions to ask the manager. This technique is good if you want to gain more insights into the industry. It is also a great way to begin networking within the profession.
- Master’s Degree – Consider going back to graduate school so you can pursue your master’s degree in sports management. In some instances, a graduate student can be hired as a Graduate Assistant. This type of position will pay a stipend and will provide you with invaluable experiences. If you are in graduate school and don’t have a graduate assistantship, you should volunteer your services and begin to gain experience within the industry. This is a great way to break into the profession and to gain experience. A master’s degree is becoming a necessity for moving up in the profession.
- Volunteer – Another great way to break into the industry is to volunteer your time and services in an athletic department. There are always opportunities in game management, security, ticket sales, and marketing. This would be a great question to ask in an informational interview – Are there any opportunities to volunteer in the department in order to gain experience? Who should I contact? If you do volunteer, make sure you do a great job; your reputation is at stake and you will want a letter of recommendation or a reference some day.
- Internship – If you are a current student, seek out an internship. These are usually in conjunction with your studies and provide credits toward your degree.
- Entry-level Job – Many athletic departments will hire students and part-time employees to work at home sporting events. Ask the ticket manager, the marketing director, or the sports information director if they hire people for part-time positions at the home contests. Again, if you are hired, do a great job. Make yourself invaluable. You just might find yourself being hired in a full-time position within the athletic department.
- Network into a job – As you have probably discovered, networking is the key to getting a job. Utilize the above opportunities and techniques to get to know people and then stay in touch with them and build friendships.
Remember, ultimately the job will go to the candidate who is prepared and who effectively executes the basics of the job interview process. In all you do, you will want to EXECUTE FOR SUCCESS! If you need to learn the fundamental skills of the job search process, check out the book “Getting Hired in College Sports”. It is used by many sports management programs to help provide their students with the job search skills that are necessary for them to compete in the highly competitive sports industry.
Howard Gauthier is an Associate Professor of Athletic Administration at Idaho State University. He is a former collegiate athletic director and collegiate basketball coach. He is also an author of 9 books. Check out his book, Getting Hired In College Sports – 2nd Edition at www.SportsCareersInstitute.com.