Excelling in high school and college typically is just the start of preparing for a sports career.
More than many careers, out-of-school activities can play a key role in building a strong sports career resume. Internships, extra-curricular activities, part-time jobs, projects, and general passion for a sport can go a long way toward landing a job in the competitive sports career field.
Take the time to read about the various sports management programs profiled on this site and on colleges and university sites. If you can’t find a sports management program that is a good fit, you may be able to complete a more traditional field of study while picking up experience out of school.
When making your college decision, find out about what types of internships and extra-curricular activities are available to give you a head start in your sports career.
When it comes time to land a sports career job, this experience will be very helpful. When you sit down with an interviewer, these efforts will help separate you from others. Beyond that, these experiences will help you learn more about your own strengths, likes and dislikes, and motivations. In many ways, they are perhaps as important as your schooling.
That said, it is important not to over-commit to these activities. You do not want to commit so much of your time that you fall behind in school or only put forward a small amount of effort in these other areas. Different people have different optimal workloads. Do some self-evaluation if you feel like you’re not doing your best in some area and decide to cut back on an activity if necessary.
Many students interested in sports careers play sports at the high school and college level. Obviously on-the-field experience can be valuable preparation for future coaches, athletic trainers, athletic directors, and others. In fact, the teamwork learned in playing sports and the commitment required can help a person advance in many careers.
But if you’re not athletically inclined, there are still plenty of opportunities at the high school level and certainly opportunities at the college level. Teams require managers, trainers, and graduate assistant coaches. The sports information department typically needs students to assist in keeping statistics and writing press releases. The school paper may need a sports writer. These are just a few of the opportunities available.
Find out about the opportunities at a college through the athletic department. If you’re still in high school, ask a teacher or coach about what opportunities are available. Tell the teacher or coach about your interests and they should be able to find some areas in which you can help out.
Many sports management programs offer excellent internship opportunities but if you’re not in a sports management program, many teams and leagues offer internships that you can learn about through this site, their web sites, or with a phone call.
If you’re a business major who hopes to one day run a minor league baseball team, perhaps your hometown team has internship opportunities in the summer.
Your university athletics program also may offer internship opportunities.
While a job will not get you college credit, it will provide you with some money. More importantly, it will provide experience. I list this as a separate category from internships because professional sports teams often need a lot of part-time or seasonal help.
Find out about the opportunities that are available. A great fit will offer some idea about the joys of working in a sports career. If it happens not to be a great fit, you will at least discover some more about the types of jobs you enjoy.
Your university athletics program, hometown recreation department, or high school may offer part-time or seasonal jobs that fit into your schedule. Officiating games can be a great experience and provide some extra money.
Also, keep in mind that you will start at the bottom. Some of this work may be mundane, but take pride in it. One day when you’re running the team, you may come up with a new idea that only occurred to you from exposure to a job at the bottom of the ladder.
Let your passion for sports shine through in your own ideas. Through blogs, fantasy sports sites, or even your own business. Blogs give you the opportunity to put your ideas about a sport out there. While they were still in high school and college, friends of mine launched a business selling a heavy bat for baseball players to warm up with. If you have a great idea that you believe in, go with it.
One thing I would advise in this area is to take a professional approach. Part of school is making mistakes, but once you attach your name to a project, you’re reputation will begin to be on the line. You certainly want to get off on the right foot.
This should not be a tough assignment. Read books about your favorite sport. Attend games. Do statistical analysis. Do the things you enjoy. All of this can help in your sports career.