The job titles and responsibilities in collegiate marketing agencies are essentially the same as those of standard agencies. To illustrate the nuanced differences, Chris Bloomfield, General Manager of the University of Washington property for ISP Sports, points to “passion for collegiate sports” as an absolute necessity. He also stresses a willingness to learn, work extra hours, and a strong outgoing personality as major pluses in an employee. Because these agencies are so closely intertwined with their respective university clients, the employees are expected to attend major games and competitions to oversee program implementation. This is a sharp contrast to standard agency jobs where day to day implementation is monitored remotely.
Collegiate marketing agencies are a relatively new phenomenon with rapid growth. While still competitive, you may find that getting your start in collegiate marketing is less difficult than a standard agency. If you’re still in college, find out if your school is currently partnered with one of the three major agencies. If it is, contact the group working there and find out if they have a need for an intern. If your school is not affiliated, find out how to get involved with the athletic department (AD). At big schools in particular, ADs are always looking for student interns and volunteers to help with game day promotions. Collegiate marketing experience is one of the key elements agencies look for in new hires, so “do whatever you can, whenever you can,” as Bloomfield stresses. Always keep in mind that collegiate marketing jobs, like other jobs in sports, are predicated on who you know. If you don’t already know people working in this field, get to know them by contacting them for informational interviews. You’ll be amazed at how willing sports marketing professionals are to share their insights and advice. They remember what it’s like to be in your shoes.
Salaries are also structured differently. Employees at all levels are guaranteed a base salary, which varies depending on the local market. Schools in a strong economic market have greater earning potential, thus granting a higher pay for the agency’s employees. Not coincidentally, schools in smaller economies also offer a lower cost of living, justifying lower pay. In addition to base pay, employees earn approximately 10% commission on all new deals. For example, if you were to secure a sponsorship deal worth $50,000, you would earn an additional $5,000 added to your base earnings.
Generally, entry level employees earn $25,000 to $30,000. Mid-level account executives bring in between $50,000 and $75,000. Property directors (general managers) can easily earn six figures, ranging from $100,000 to $200,000.