For some it is a graduation requirement, but regardless of academic obligations, an internship can give your sports career the jump start it needs. There are a bevy of reasons why an internship is beneficial to your career in sports. Here, we’ll discuss three primary benefits: learning opportunities, networking, and competitive advantage.
The primary goal of an internship is to gain exposure to the basic inner workings of a company related to your career aspirations. Depending on your own skills, experience, your company’s size, needs and available projects, your responsibilities could vary greatly. Some internships, such as those at league offices or major corporations, are highly structured. These larger companies often have a set program with a predetermined start and end date. These sports internships are more likely to give you a broad view of the company’s operations by rotating you through several departments. Other internships are project-based and focus on a specific area of the business such as sales and marketing, finance, operations, etc.
Companies in all areas of the industry offer internships. The following is a brief list of organizations with structured programs:
Major League Baseball and affiliated teams
National Basketball Association and affiliated teams
National Football League and affiliated teams
National Hockey League and affiliated teams
Major League Soccer and affiliated teams
Major Marketing Agencies (i.e., IMG, Octagon, Velocity Sports and Entertainment, GM R*Works)
Collegiate Marketing Agencies (i.e., ISP Sports, Learfield Sports, IMG College)
NCAA Conferences and Institutions
Major sporting goods and apparel companies, e.g., Nike, Adidas, and Under Armour
United States Olympic Committee
National Governing Bodies (i.e. USA Track and Field, USA Basketball)
This list is meant to give you a starting point; a rough idea of the possibilities. There is no reason to be limited in your search. Whatever area of the industry you are interested in, there are bound to be countless internships available.
Some sports industry professionals argue that the greatest benefits an internship can provide are the networking connections you’ll make. One of the most common phrases thrown around the sports business industry is some variant of, “It isn’t WHAT you know; it’s WHO you know.” Employers like to hire people they are familiar with. An internship is the perfect way to make yourself a known quantity to a potential employer. During your stay with the company, you’ll likely have the chance to meet employees of other sports related companies. These contacts will prove invaluable, not only as your start your career, but as useful Rolodex entries to tap into throughout your career.
Finally, an internship will provide you with an edge over your competition. With so many young professionals trying to get into the industry, a quality internship on your resume will give you an instant leg up. However, it is important to keep in mind that countless others will also have internship experience. To differentiate, you’ll want to impress your employer and build solid references for your resume. Later on, we’ll discuss how to make the most of your internship, including some specific tips on how to stand out above the average intern.