Six Strategies For Breaking Into The Sports Industry

By Dr. Howard Gauthier

Kelsey is excited because she just completed her last final exam of the semester and is graduating next week with a degree in Sports Management.  She’s nervous, however, because she’s discovering that the job market is very competitive and she’s having a difficult time finding a job in the sports industry.

To help with the job search process, Kelsey’s sports management professor discussed the job search process and provided six tips on how to break into the sports industry. These tips have provided Kelsey with a focus and a strategy for her career. Below is an overview of the six strategies her 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 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 good question to ask in an informational interview – “are there any opportunities to volunteer in the department in order to gain experience?” If you do volunteer, make sure you are very professional in your actions; 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 so you can get to know the people within the industry, 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 competing 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 or his new book Execute for Success at


Helping You Get A Job In Sports

2nd edition Image

In Getting Hired In College Sports you will discover:

  • The types of jobs that exist in college sports
  • How to plan and navigate your career
  • How to create an effective job search campaign 
  • The proper way to create an effective resume, cover letter, and sales pitch
  • How to properly brand yourself
  • Techniques and strategies to prepare for your interview
  • How to properly prepare yourself for the five types of interview questions 
  • How to properly follow-up after the interview in order to influence the decision of the hiring manager

Only $23.95 Click Here To Purchase 

“I have recommended this book to many aspiring sports administrators.  This is a must read for anyone who wants to work in athletic administration”

-Bill Fusco
Director of Athletics
Sonoma State University




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