As we have previously discussed, your career in sports will be heavily influenced by personal relationships. People move around and change jobs all the time because someone they know in the business recommends them for a new position. The trick is getting into the fold so that someday you too will be a networking superstar, facilitating your own horizontal and vertical career movement.
Although the jobs within the three principle sectors of sponsorship vary in their responsibilities and pay, securing a job is essentially the same across the board. To put yourself in the best position to break into sports sponsorship, utilize the following guidelines:
Get an internship – Perhaps the most valuable asset you can have on your resume is a sports job or sports internship. Not only will you gain invaluable industry experience, but you will also build a network of contacts that you can call upon during your search (see internships section for more detail).
Get a degree in sports business – While this is not necessarily possible for everyone, nor is it absolutely necessary, a degree in sports business can offer several advantages. Dozens of colleges offer undergraduate degrees in sports marketing and a slightly smaller number have Master’s degree programs. These include and are not limited to: University of Oregon, Baylor University, Rutgers University, University of Pennsylvania (Wharton), New York University, University of Southern California, University of Arizona, University of Central Florida, Ohio State University, and University of Massachusetts at Amherst. These programs not only offer academic preparation, but also offer opportunities to meet and learn from industry professionals. These networking opportunities are invaluable.
Network – It cannot be stressed enough that the people you know are what make the difference in your job search. Take every available opportunity to put yourself in front of industry professionals. Ask your own contacts if they know people in your targeted field or company. Call your contacts on a regular basis to keep them updated on your search and to ask them for help as needed. Network, network, network!
Be Flexible – Don’t set your heart on one particular job or company. Even more, don’t limit yourself geographically. The sports business is highly geographically diverse and your first great opportunity may materialize in your hometown, or in an entirely different region of the country. Being flexible and willing to do what it takes to get started may not work out just as you had dreamed in your head, but it will pay off in the long run.
Be Persistent – It’s important to understand that people working in sports business are incredibly busy. Your email or voicemail may get lost in the shuffle of everyday work. So don’t get discouraged if HR or your contact at a company doesn’t return your inquiry right away. Regular follow-up will demonstrate your persistence and commitment – two qualities employers of all kinds value highly.