Securing Sports Internships

A common question many internship seekers ask is: which internships are easier to come by than others? Internships with high profile companies such as league offices, professional teams, agencies, national media outlets, and sporting goods/apparel brands are going to be much more competitive than others. As previously discussed, it is critically important to build a good network and utilize that network to find contacts at the sports employers to whom you will apply. Hiring managers are exponentially more likely to interview a candidate whom they know, or is recommended by a colleague. These companies receive hundreds of resumes every day, and if they don’t know who you are, your resume will likely end up in a lost file cabinet, never to be seen again.

Just because a company, university, agency, league, or team does not advertise internships, does not mean they don’t need your help! To increase your chances, one strategy is to submit an internship proposal to a smaller company that may not have a structured program. There are hundreds of niche equipment/apparel brands, boutique marketing firms, and local media outlets that can always use an intern’s help and input. Because they are smaller than their king-sized counterparts, they may not have the time or resources to organize an internship program. Additionally, these companies are often in the start-up phase of business operations, which is a great learning experience for an intern looking to get their hands dirty and gain exposure to multiple aspects of a new company’s operations. To submit an internship proposal, simply follow these steps:

  • Research your targeted employer – Visit the website and other online sources to learn more about the company’s operations, their competitors, new products, services, or promotions, etc. Consider their weakness and opportunities. Use your own strengths to develop new project ideas that would benefit the company’s business
  • Find out who to contact – Use your network and resources to identify the right person to speak with about your proposal. Contact the department manager rather than Human Resources, if possible. This will improve your chances of having your proposal heard in the right context.
  • Prepare your pitch – If you plan to contact the employer via phone, be prepared to elaborate on your internship proposal. You can do this one of two ways. First, you can tell the person directly what your proposal is. To increase your receptivity, prepare two or three potential project ideas. Another strategy is to ask the person questions that will lead to a project idea. What are their needs? What do they need help with? Is there a research project that no one has time for? You can achieve the same means through a formal letter. If you choose this method, use a cover letter format to suggest two or three possible projects.
  • Follow up – If you do not hear a response, call your contact no later than one week after the initial conversation. Daily phone calls and/or emails will likely aggravate your contact, so be patient with the approval process and continue to follow up at a reasonable interval.

It is a good idea to have an initial list of at least ten athletics employers to target for an internship, but don’t limit yourself. The more opportunities you pursue, the better your chances of success.

To secure your internship, there are five basic steps you’ll want to follow:

  1. Utilize your network – Find out if you know any current employees at your targeted employers. This is always the best place to start. Contact the person and let them know you are interested. The person will direct you with the next steps that may give you a leg up on other applicants.
  2. Visit the website – Many sports-related companies have a special section on their websites devoted to internships. This is particularly true of teams, leagues, and larger companies. If you are looking for a summer internship in particular, be sure to check these sites early – even as early as the fall – to check for application deadlines.
  3. Submit your application – Follow the website instructions for submitting an application. Most will just want a cover letter and resume. Others will ask for essays, transcripts, and references. If there are no instructions, call the company directly and ask about their internship availability.
  4. Follow up – Some websites will state when the hiring decisions will be made, instructing applicants not to write or call with inquiries on the process. Otherwise, it is a good idea to contact the company two to three weeks after submission. It’s important to find a good balance of persistence and patience. Too many phone calls will irritate the employer, while too few may leave you in the forgotten pile of paperwork.
  5. Wait – The most painful part of any internship (or job) search is waiting to hear a response. Unfortunately, it is a necessary part of the process. If you do your research, put together an outstanding application, and follow up accordingly, chances are you’ll be rewarded with the quality internship you desire.


Sports Internships – Take Full Advantage