Internships are a commonly advised route for people looking to "break into" the sports industry. And one way to educate yourself about internships is to talk to others who have completed sports related internships. But what if you do not know such people? Well you are in luck, because I do know some recent interns willing to share their thoughts on this topic.
In addition to writing about sports careers and my "day job" as a marketing professor at Sonoma State University, I occasionally teach in the University of San Francisco's Sport Management Program. (Full disclosure: I'm also an alum of the program.)
The students I am engaged with currently at USF are approaching the end of their Master's Degree program and have already amassed an impressive list of internships and full time positions with sport entities like the Oakland Raiders, Cal Athletics, Stanford Athletics and Positive Coaching Alliance.
I recently asked them about advice they would have for others entering the sports industry, starting with a question about their internship experiences.Each respondent's name is linked to either their Twitter account or LinkedIn profile, if you would like to learn more about their careers. What follows is a sampling of the responses received from the next generation of sports leaders
What did you learn from your internship experiences?
Andrew Kohler People working in professional sports (interned with NHL's San Jose Sharks) are extremely dedicated to the work they do and could probably make more money working outside sports, if they wanted. Also, interning is a great way to get invaluable experience and exposure to the industry. It may be the only way to get such entry-level experiences in many cases.
Casey Miller People hire people. Be easy to get along with, genuine and teachable. If people enjoy being around you and you work hard, you may go further than someone more skilled than you. You spend a lot of time together.
Roshan Gupta I learned how to ask the right number of questions at work - not too many about instructions - and not too few so that I make mistakes. I developed a sense of intuition about the right number of questions to ask.
Mark Gosen In my internship I learned to use my time effectively. This is done by taking on as many tasks as possible and creating your own tasks when there is down time. This will lead your employer to look to you when a task needs to be completed and will help you build a strong foundation at an early stage of the internship experience.
What was interesting about their responses is that they did not reflect on the specific roles they played or experiences with specific tasks as the most impactful element of their internship experiences. Instead, most of the lessons were about the interpersonal nature of their professional development: working with others, professional self-presentation and the value of networking - things that are easier to learn from experience than in a classroom.
Part 2 of this article features responses to questions "What do you wish you knew about the sports industry three years ago that you now know?' and "What is the best career advice you have ever heard?".
Be sure to read it to gain additional glimpses into the experiences of these young sports business professionals.