So You Wanna Work in Sports?

Yesterday I decided to take an extended study break and check out an awesome networking event hosted by the Hamilton Bulldogs. Although I’ve pretty much set myself up job-wise for the next year, I’m still so interested in seeing what else is out there, and generally, I find listening to other people’s career stories so inspiring and motivating (the perfect kind of study break during exam time, right?)

The event was hosted by the Hamilton Bulldogs, and featured  a bunch of speakers from the Bulldogs, Niagara Icedogs, the Niagara Sports Commission, Global Spectrum, The Aspire Group, and more (but sadly, no one from MLSE). We were given the opportunity to listen to everyone’s career stories, with a chance to network and apply in-person to some of the organizations’ open positions at the end. Oh and the best part, our event ticket also gave us access to the Bulldogs’ game later in the evening.

Now I’m not fully focused on working in the sports industry, although I’m beyond excited for my summer internship with a national sports organization and I dream about working in the NBA – I’m trying to keep an open mind as I also love the fashion, beauty, lifestyle industries… the list goes on. And although I didn’t actively participate in the networking aspect of the event, I definitely gained some valuable insight in what working for a sports organization would entail. And since I know I’m not the only one interested in this industry, here are the top five pieces of advice that execs had to give to the audience:

1. WORK IN SALES: Apparently the easiest jobs to find in the sports industry are in the sales department, so if you’re dedicated to working for the NHL or another major league like that, these positions are a great starting place. Now I’m not totally against sales, but I’m so passionate about public relations and the projects that accompany that type of position that I can’t see myself sacrificing those interests simply for a chance to be exposed to the big leagues. However if the sports industry is your one true passion, the execs strongly suggested using a sales position as an access point.

2. GIVE IT YOUR ALL: Going off of my last point, if you do decide to find a sales job in sports because you so badly want to work for your favourite team, don’t just treat the job as simply an opportunity to “get your foot in the door”. I mean, perhaps deep down this is what the position means to you, but if you want to excel and get people to notice you, you need to put 110% effort into the job that you’re doing so you can work your way up to your dream position.

3. DON’T BELIEVE THE HYPE: So you wanna party with LeBron, tailgate at the Super Bowl, and/or enjoy box seating with major executives at every game? Well, working in the sports industry just isn’t for you then. Many of the speakers at the event emphasized just how unglamourous the jobs in this industry can be, mentioning long hours and little (and oftentimes zero) salary. Obviously they ARE looking for passion and a love for the team and sport, but at the same time, this is because that passion may be the only thing driving you when the job starts to get tough. So if you’re looking for a lax, 9-5 office job, you better start checking out other industries.

4. MAKE THE CALL: There is a huge difference between the amount of open jobs in the sports industry, and the amount of people that want to work in the sports industry – so if you really want that job, you better make it known. An interesting tactic I had never considered before was following up your application with a phone call (regardless of whether or not the job posting advises against it). Now this advice came directly from the Vice President of Sales and Marketing for the Bulldogs, so I’m sure it’s credible, but only time will tell if I have the courage to make this move the next time I’m vying for a position.

5. NETWORK….. NETWORK, NETWORK: I’m sure you’re as sick of hearing about this as I am, but if everyone claims networking really is THAT important, surely it must be true, right? I think we have it really easy at this day and age, what with Twitter and LinkedIn practically GIVING us the connections – all we have to do is build the relationship. I think one of the most valuable things you can remember when networking is not just “what kind of job can this person give me”, but just generally consider “what can I learn from this person?” Networking isn’t something you do just when you’re actively searching for a job, hence why I wanted to go to this event. Relationship-building is an ongoing process, and you never know when those connections from the past will help you in the future.

The thing I loved most about this event was how passionate each individual was about their job, seeing this definitely made me feel excited about my future – particularly about what this summer will bring. So, now that you know the nitty gritty details, do you still want to work in sports?

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6 thoughts on “So You Wanna Work in Sports?

  1. Thanks for the post! As someone who is looking to work in (amateur) sports, I love reading any tips and tricks that get out there. Love your point on networking- I got my most powerful internship to date because the woman I ended up working for was my gymnastics administrator from my first coaching job ever- at 14!

  2. Love this! I work in sports and I think a lot of people don’t realize that it’s really freaking hard. I work for the U.S. Olympic Committee, and during the Olympics and Paralympics I was working 50-hour weeks and starting my days at 3 a.m. It was incredibly cool, but I basically had no life, lol.

    And yes to networking. I’m still so bad at it, but I got my current job largely because I had a bunch of mutual connections who talked me up. So even if you’re not networking in the “hey, here’s my business card,” sense, it’s a huge help to just have friends in as many relevant places as possible!

  3. If you’re looking for more networking events,and are close to Toronto, I’d highly recommend beerworking (also provided beer is your thing). I recently wrote about it and it was one of the best events I had been to. It was mostly young professionals but a great group and a great setup.

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