Hey Y'all! It's been a bit since I've written a post on the careers page! My inspiration for this actually came about an interesting way.. trying to up my Instagram game! Since this blog is a place for sports fans AND people wanting to go into the sports industry, I want my Instagram to be the same! Which meant that I went on a following spree and found people working in sport to follow and keep up with on my Instagram as well! Through this process and off of what I've learned from talking to professionals in the industry, I've come up with my top 5 areas of interest in the sport industry. -- And yes I'm aware that my degree doesn't exactly match up perfectly with some of them... but making that life decision at 19 is hard!
I actually have struggled with the "What do you want to do?" question when I've been asked. I feel lucky in a sense because most people who stress when asked that question are stressed because they genuinely don't know what they want to do. In my case it's the opposite. There are multiple areas and things that I want to do in the sports industry, so to pinpoint one thing.. well that's hard for me. I know I need to figure it out and I know I need to follow that one path, but when there are multiple things you want to do, and you'd be 110% happy with any of those options, it makes it hard to limit yourself and pick just one. For now, I'm sticking with the sports/sport venue events, but we'll see what the future holds!
Below are my top five areas of interest! Maybe you'll find some inspiration on how to answer the "What do you want to do?" question from my list too!
1. Sports/Sport Venue Events
I may or may not have put this as #1 because I'm excited for my new job... but even before that I've always been interested in special events at sporting venues! I went on a tour at Busch Stadium about four years ago, where we met with the Director of Special Events and everything she talked about doing from weddings to soccer games to World Series galas caught my attention. - Whether it's working the special events at a venue or the events that take place during games/seasons, I love it all! Since the events are still taking place either during a game or at least at a sporting venue, they still revolve around the game(s) I love but include the event planning aspect as well. -- If you're interested, Google special events for professional sporting teams and do some research on it!
2. Student-Athlete Development
Ah, the area I fell in love with completely unexpectedly at Mizzou.. I never once gave this area any thought until the associate athletic director of student-athlete development was my professor for a course. The more I heard, the more I wanted to try it! - This area is still surrounded by sports because you work with the athletes, but it has a lot more service to it than most areas in sports. Within this career path you can assist athletes with career development, community service projects, professional and personal development, and other areas too! Helping athletes decide on life after college and how to make the most of their time as a student-athlete is a side of college athletics that most people don't get the change to see. If the right opportunity presented itself I'd jump back into this in a heartbeat! -- If you're interested, Google student-athlete development at various universities. Or if professional sports are more your interest, try rookie programs in the NFL or NBA.
3. Sport Journalism/Media
If y'all read the blog you can quickly figure out that Samantha Ponder is my idol.. and during my Instagram following spree I followed quite a few sports reporters/journalists. Guess what? All of their jobs look like so much fun! I probably should've gotten a degree in communication, journalism, or marketing if I really wanted to pursue this.. but you never know what opportunity can pop up for ya! - Getting to travel the country to various college football games, or follow a baseball team throughout the season sounds like a perfect career! Especially when they get to do serious reporting, but also cover clubhouse jokes or fun stories.
My one college regret? Not getting more experience in sports marketing. I can't say with 100% certainty that I'd love this career path because I haven't done much with it. However, I have friends that have and when you watch marketing directors/employees at collegiate or pro sporting events it looks like something I would really enjoy! Getting to decide on promotions, between inning games, what music plays during games, advertising for games, or new ways to get people to games (check out my post on Mizzou's new tailgate concert series in the article here!) seems like a pretty fun and ever changing job!
5. Team Operations
Yet another area that I don't have much experience with, but have talked to people who have.. team operations. So I originally thought this was like a manager for a team, but it can be a lot of different things. The area I'm interested in would be scheduling and travel for teams. Sport teams have travel coordinators that work with airports, pilots, hotels, catering, travel to and from stadiums, etc. which again would be an ever changing job! This position can also include scheduling appearances for interviews, autographs, hospital visits, school visits, or other community service events too. Maybe I'm interested because of my love of traveling.. but I think it sounds fun!
As many of us know yesterday could have easily been referred to as "Black Wednesday" for ESPN and the whole sports media world. Keeping a close eye on Twitter the last couple days has taken up a lot of time for me! Of course there have been college recruiting stories, MLB updates, and the coverage of the NFL Draft, but seeing all of the names ESPN let go was definitely the big story. I'm not a sports journalist, I don't claim to be, and don't really want to be, so other than knowing Dallas Braden won't be popping up on Sunday Night Baseball anymore *sigh*, the only tie I have to these lay offs are as a sports fan and someone going into (a different part) of the sports world. I saw a lot of sports reporters stating that they went into sports journalism because they loved reporting, journalism, and sports. Not because they thought it was an easy path, great pay, or job security. Hmm let my thoughts begin..
By some coincidence a friend shared an article on Facebook about the 10 best and 10 worst Master's degrees of today. Guess what was #2.. on the 10 worst list.. Sports Management. It was a little surprising, but I kind of expected it to be on the list somewhere to be honest. When I kept reading I saw the three key points.
1. Early-career pay: $43,900
2. Mid-career pay: $67,200
3. Projected job growth: 7%
Okay, so not exactly things that should make everyone run to get their sport management degree, both Bachelor's and Master's.. but that's where the post title comes in, For the Love of the Career.. or for the Money? - And with these quick numbers let my thoughts continue.
So if I'm not going into sports journalism, why does my first point matter? The combination of these two things made me realize a few things.
1. Even with the sports industry thriving and bringing in lots of money, people working for one of the largest sports related companies in the world are being laid off.
2. Knowing this, those let go were, publicly, gracious to the company and their time spent with them (via tweets), and those not affected by the lay offs were stating that they are in sports journalism because it's their passion.
3. I've known the salaries can be low for sports industry professionals, but I feel the same way as these sports journalists who are going to continue because it's their passion and are thankful for what they have learned from their experiences.
4. I need to control my shopping habit because $43,000 a year won't support that lifestyle ;P
I've decided to follow my passion, knowing that the starting salaries might not be as high as other industries, that it's going to take a lot of work to get to the top, and that even though the sports industry is bringing in crazy amounts of money it is a competitive industry and jobs aren't guaranteed (similar to the ESPN situation). I love the sports world and even after seeing such a devastating blow to ESPN's employees and average salaries I, like all of the journalists mentioned earlier, will continue with my education and career in the sports industry because it's what I love.
No matter if you choose the money, the passion, or the job security I wish you all the best! And who knows, maybe one day we'll all realize we can achieve all three of these things!All jokes aside, the question that we all need to ask ourselves is this. What is most important to us, money or following your passion? Now those lucky ones who are passionate about engineering get the best of both worlds, but that's not how it works for everyone unfortunately.. If you've visited my Learn More page, then you might have seen my reference to the "Find something you love to do and you'll never work a day in your life" quote. Now don't get me wrong, money is nice and I have been called high maintenance a time or two in my life.. but when I think about my career I would much rather enjoy it than be miserable just to bring home a big check. So if you're reading this and you're thinking about going into the sports industry, ask yourself the question of what is important to you? While you're at it, make sure you consider the long, unconventional hours and how busy you're schedule might be. To me, those things are exciting and do not outweigh the environment and atmosphere of working in athletics I enjoy so much! - No matter what industry you're about to enter, or are in, the question of what is important to you applies though!
P.S. If y'all are still thinking I'm crazy for taking the time and money to earn a Master's degree remember that I'm gaining experience through my athletic graduate assistantship and that if I continue in collegiate athletics a master's degree and GA experience are the best ways to get your foot in the door. I have my reasons, I'm not completely crazy ;)
Happy Tuesday! I've been a little stuck and unsure on what to write about in the past week. It may be because of temporary writers block, or maybe it's because motivation is lacking when your team is 3-9.. but I decided my next post should be another networking post! It's not a how to, it's an example of networking actually working! The best part? It worked for me! If you read my networking series from a few months back you have read about: Networking, What is it?, Where and How, & Keeping Your Connections. Which are all helpful, but if you're like me, you probably want real life examples. Well here ya go!
Earning a degree in the sports industry (like many others) is oftentimes not enough to land the big time job you're hoping for. You need experience. Probably more importantly, you need a network. And even with these three things, it's going to take time landing where you ultimately hope to land. I've been aware of this from the get go. You'll notice a pattern in my posts on my College Life and my Careers pages, getting out of my comfort zone and/or taking extra steps. I HAD to get a job in college, but I didn't HAVE to get three.. I also didn't have to make sure every job/internship I took was related to my ultimate career goals, I could have just worked in retail for 4+ years (probably making no money because, let's be real, I'd spend it all at wherever I worked..). I've been deliberate with my job/internship choices, volunteer choices, and organization choices, and guess what? I feel like it has paid off! As you saw in my Attention! I'm Moving post, I'm heading to the south for graduate school in the fall (YAY!!) - Since making that decision I applied for a few graduate assistantships and have accepted one (YAY again!!). I'll talk about that position a little later on, but for now lets move on with the networking payoff.
One of the GA positions I applied for had a traditional approach; application, cover letter, resume, references. The other, well I emailed them my resume and asked if they had an opening and was interviewed shortly after. Seems like they took way different approaches right? Well maybe, but the common denominator in both? References and experience. Anyone can fill out a job application and cover letter. (Okay cover letters can be a huge pain, but if you do your research and put in some effort, anyone can write an impressive cover letter!) What you can't "fake" is your experience and your references. If you lie on a resume, shame on you and good luck.. It's pretty easy to know by talking to someone or reading a job application to determine if their experience is what they say it is, so let's all just agree to keep our resumes accurate alright? - So I kept my resume accurate and answered the interview questions honestly, but what I think got me offers from both positions..my references! (AKA, my network!)
Let me take a step back with some background. I intern with Mizzou Athletics and the GA positions I applied for are at University of South Carolina, within Gamecock Athletics. Both SEC schools, which means they know their counterparts at the opposite school. The director of ticketing at USC knows the director of ticketing at Mizzou, and the director at ticketing at Mizzou knows his coworkers at Mizzou Athletics. You can see where I'm going with this right?
One of the GA positions I applied for is within the same department I intern for at Mizzou, therefor my direct boss and the head of USC's department know each other well. I know that there had been emails and phone calls exchanged between the two departments before and during my interview process. I guess they went well, along with my interview, because I was offered the position! - The more surprising example of a network and networking coming through was with the other position. I already mentioned that it was kind of a nontraditional application process, but after submitting my resume to them and scheduling an interview I learned that they had reached out to Mizzou Athletics before interviewing me, and without me giving them any references. This might scare some people, but surprised was more of what I felt! They called their counterpart at Mizzou and asked about me. Well, I don't know that person, BUT he reached out to the director of the department I intern for and after speaking with her, he called USC back and recommended me! - If this isn't a prime example of a network and networking paying off, I don't know what is! - After the recommendation and two interviews, I accepted the position! They never asked me for a reference list, they just reached out the one time, interviewed me, and looked at my resume.
So my point for all of this is that throughout college (and post grad life..) I've built a network, and worked my butt off for my bosses and coworkers to establish good relationships and tried to impress them with my performance. I believe that I have been successful in doing this. The most, take a step back and saw woah, part of this for me is that someone I've never met, in a high level position reached out to a coworker, took her word, and recommended me to people in high level positions at another university. I had heard of instances where things like this happened, but never witnessed it first hand. To have it happen to you, and help you achieve one of your goals, is definitely a moment where you realize your hard work has paid off. - Believe that if you work hard, be a good person, and establish relationships, it will pay off. There have been plenty of long days, unappreciative people, sleepless nights, and coffee filled mornings where the "is this worth it?" thought has came to my mind, but I can tell you that when you see it all paying off, it is one of the most rewarding things you'll experience!
I'd love to help y'all out with networking or anything career and college related! Leave a note below or reach out on my Learn More page!
Anybody have a hard time getting themselves to focus on the task at hand ONLY, not the 19 other things on your mind at this very moment? I'm sure we've all been in situation like this. Well, I've put together a list of things that I do to help me focus and get to work! It doesn't matter if you need to do homework, meet a work deadline, or blog your heart out, these tips should help you!
1. Turn your phone off.. or at least put it somewhere that you can't see the screen :)
Hi, I'm a millennial and I am on my phone constantly. - Sound like anyone you know? I'm going to guess it sounds like most of us. I'm not here to grill anyone on their phone usage (I'd be the biggest hipocrit in the world if I did..), but when I really need to be productive I put my phone in my purse or turn it upside down at the very least. If I don't see the notifications pop up on my screen I don't feel the need to grab it every time it lights up. I try to put it far enough away, or on a soft surface, so that I can't feel it vibrate or hear the notification sounds go off too. - It should not be this hard or take this many steps, but realistically, this is something more than just the millennial generation has an issue with. - I don't do this all the time, but when I really need to get things done I do and will only check it once an hour or two in case of emergency or someone needing something. Your brain can focus better without the constant sound alerts, screen notifications, and vibrations. If you're struggling to stay focused, just try it.
2. Make a to-do list.. carefully..
Sometimes I have a two page long to-do list, other days I have five bullet points each with one word. Sure, some of this depends on workload, but it is also different strategies being used. It sounds backwards, but if I have a strict deadline or stressed, I make pretty detailed to-do lists. They include nearly everything I have to do in a day (or sometimes week). This might stress some people out, to lay out everything that needs done by a certain deadline, but what stresses me out more than that is when I'm nearing a deadline and remember a whole other set of tasks I have to do. My long lists travel with me and sit right next to me when I get to work so I can check things off as I accomplish them. Ah, satisfaction.
My short, compact lists are used for when it's just things I want to do. For instance, most things with my blog are not must do items, but I'd like to get them done by a certain time. This week my to-do (for Girl Meets GAMEDAY) looked something like this:
3. Take breaks.
Yep you read that right, in order to get work done you must take breaks. Have you ever had a big exam or work project you were pressing to study for or finish? Did you get to the point where you thought all your energy and time had to be focused on that one exam or project? How'd you do when you reached that point? I'm going to guess you got even more stressed, maybe even felt sick? When I do this to myself I get stress headaches (that usually turn into migraines), sick to my stomach, hot, sometimes even panicky.. basically nothing good or fun comes from it. Now, I am (usually) the queen of procrastination and am definitely not the spokesgirl for the "get your stuff done well before deadlines" campaign, so I totally understand this last minute push to get things accomplished. I've learned though that focusing on one thing for too long actually hurts your progress. Start studying or working a little earlier and allow yourself 5-15 minute breaks every 45-60 minutes.
4. Exercise. (P.S. don't tell my family I said this!)
I used to hate hearing this. I thought there was no way this could help or hurt your productivity. I was wrong. - I'm not a morning person, so working out before work is not something I do (at this point..), but even exercise after work, between classes, or towards the end of the day, makes me feel like I can accomplish more. And I usually do accomplish more. When I had late morning breaks between classes and worked out the rest of my day went SO much better. There were times I couldn't workout until later in the day though, which is fine too! It might not have affected my productivity as much, but my stress level went down. Which typically meant I could get a few more tasks done before bed, or calm down and sleep better. - If you have a lot to do or your stressed and need to be productive, take the time to exercise. It sounds wrong, "take time out of doing the work to do something else so that you can get more work done", huh? But really, it makes a difference for me at least!
5. Play some music that YOU enjoy.
Play some music that doesn't distract you, but gives you a some background noise and helps you focus, whatever type of music that may be! For me, some days that is country, some days it's throwbacks, and some days it's 2000s rap. Don't judge! While I was studying for the GRE I listened to a lot of alternative pop from the 90s and 2000s (Lifehouse, Goo Goo Dolls, The Fray ), it was soft enough that it calmed me down and was music I could listen to without (always) singing along. If I have a tedious task at work that doesn't really take much brain power, I'll listen to music I sing along or dance a little to. It makes the task fun that way! -- Find music that works for you, whatever genre that might be, and use it as a way to calm yourself or to get through those tasks that you don't really want to do.
Alright, you've heard the five steps to being more productive and the reasons behind them, so tell me what you think! I'd love to hear your original thoughts on the article and your thoughts after you've tried some of these!
As always, leave your questions and comments below!
As I'm finishing my graduate school search, looking ahead to my future career in sport, and loving the conference tournament portion of March Madness I got to thinking, could I ever work for my favorite team's rival?
Naturally I can't simply say yes or no!
it's the same place I work?", which led me to thinking that Minor League Baseball might be an okay option, or college athletics. My thoughts continued to adjust and change, but never have I EVER thought about working for the Cubs organization or KU Athletics. Quite honestly, I still don't want to it..
Now I'm sure some of you are thinking "grow up *hard eye roll*", but my response to that is *hard eye roll right back at you!*. Sports are interesting because in a way, they keep the child in you, they keep games and playing in your life. Sure some people are super mature sports fans, but who do you have more fun watching games with or talking about sports to, the people who get wrapped up in the game with crazy superstitions and favorite players, or the people more worried about their cheese tray looking perfect and how hard fans and media are on players? (Disclaimer: A well planned and executed Super Bowl party is always a hit, and athletes catch too much flack sometimes, BUT trust me when I say I'm still the child at heart sports fan over here!) -- Yes, my career is going to be in sports. Yes, I know that sports are a business. (That realization came when Albert Pujols went to the Angels.. ) And yes, I know that in my case where work and my favorite hobbies are directly correlated I have to be able to separate the fun and the serious. However, I LOVE sports, everything about them, wins, losses, fans, atmospheres, highlights, #NOTtop10nominees, off-seasons, stadiums, traditions, fantasy sports, celebrations, disappointments, rivalries, ALL. OF. IT. So, to think that I can just switch off my love for sports, my love for my teams and their traditions in a split second after this question is asked is crazy! Of course my immediate response is NO I could never work for a rival team, but when my career will be in sport, I have to be rational as well.
The examples of the Cubs and the Jayhawks are obviously my least favorite teams, but the Cards and Mizzou have other rivals as well. When I think about it, the Royals have always been a team with a fan base that didn't like us and we didn't like them. The Reds were that way for a few years as well, it's better lately. If you asked me if I could work for the Royals, I think I could. Really, any MLB team except the Cubs I wouldn't even think twice about. I'd be grateful for the opportunity. If the time comes where I apply for a job with the Cubs and have a shot at getting it, I'll reevaluate and let you know my final decision.. haha.
When I think about working for Kansas, well, just no. I think that's the beauty of college traditions and college sports though. It has been engrained in my head that we, as Mizzou fans, hate Kansas no matter what. We haven't played them in five years, but want to know the highlight of my week this week? Kansas losing to TCU in the Big 12 tournament. Watched the game on my work computer, immediately checked Twitter after the loss, and then went to Rock M Nation where the banner of the home page said "Breaking News: Mizzou still in conference tournament, Kansas is not." - Yep, we've been taught this way. Since moving to the SEC the fan base has been steered toward viewing Arkansas as our new rival, but they will never be Kansas. When I think of Mizzou's rival, I will always think Kansas. - All that being said, I don't know that I could ever step foot on the KU campus and 1. not feel like a traitor, 2. be happy. I think I might have to head back out into the job market..
I'd love to hear your thoughts and opinions on this! Who is your rival? Do you think you could work for that organization?
Oh yeah, & two more things - #GoCards and M-I-Z!!
Yep, I was a guest speaker last week, and I still can't really believe I agreed to it.. I'm not talking a small group of 5-10 people either, there were around 60 people in the room, yikes right? Oh, and the projector and PowerPoint that I was supposed to use? Yeah, they didn't work until the last 10 minutes.. Needless to say it was an interesting first experience! Even though I was the "teacher", I learned a lot!
Let's back this up a bit, why was I guest speaker? Who was the audience? What did I cover? All valid questions with quick answers.. except the first question. I'm still trying to figure that out myself ;) - The audience was made up of college students within my major. I covered my college experience, ranging from internships to classes and organizations. So why was I a guest speaker? My former professor asked if I would come and talk about my experience to younger students. Many of them have questions about jobs, classes, internships, volunteering, networking, organizations, and the travel that I had done as a student. Since I am a very recent graduate of the program, she thought they'd gain a lot from my experience and hearing a recent students point of view. My first response to my professor was, "I'm not that interesting, they'll be getting out of class early..", but she insisted that my experiences would be great for the students to hear.
Alright, so what did I learn?
1. Public speaking is not the worst thing you're going to have to do in your life. It isn't! So stop thinking it is!
- I admit, I got very nervous and probably prepared way more than was necessary, but once I got there and started talking it wasn't bad! I'd never spoke in a situation like this. A meetings? Yes, but never in a class room or as a guest speaker. I just decided to jump in. That's my suggestion, just jump in and do it! Chances are you are going to have to talk in front of people more times in your life than most people would like to, so practice when you can!
2. Knowing your material is key. Expert status isn't mandatory, but I can only imagine how easy it is for those people to talk on their subjects!
- How many people have had to present something and decided to "wing it"?
Read over it once?
Fill in information on the fly?
Yeah, I'm going to say nearly everyone! Don't lie! I'm one of the lucky ones, I guess you'd say, because all of my major specific classes were about sports or event planning, two areas I'm very interested in. When we had to do presentations, if I didn't prepare, I could pull out examples from things I'd seen during my internships, or what ESPN had been reporting on lately. For some of my non-major specific classes, that wasn't the case. I remember doing a presentation in chemistry lab that I did not prepare enough for. Luckily the TA was very nice and asked basic questions. Our group struggled along and got an okay grade.
The point is, when I was talking about my college career and experience it was all things that I know like the back of my hand. I could talk confidently about it. When you can do that the presentation is more believable and it's way easier to talk about in front of people!
3. You aren't going to reach everyone. That kid with snacks and headphones that showed up ten minutes late, in no rush? Yeah don't even try.
- Some people don't care, and that's okay! As I looked through the classroom I saw a lot of things, note takers, nodding, and faces of engagement (which was great!), but I also saw the people on their phones, blank stares, and some resting B faces where you don't know if they are intrigued or annoyed. - I can have a pretty serious RBF and not even mean to, so I try not to judge ;P - After the class some came up and talked to me and others bolted as soon as they could. Unless you're talking to an audience that bought tickets to see you, most likely not everyone is going to be there because they 100% want to be. Ignore those faces or actions and focus on the people who are engaged.
4. Plan for technology to fail. Not just a minor fail, like full on fail, nothing you planned on is working. Better to be pleasantly surprised than disappointed.
- I had a PowerPoint created with main points bulleted and a few pictures to references, but guess what? I couldn't use it.
Fine, I could just pull it up on the desktop and at least I could use it for reference right? Wrong.
They tried to fix the projector during the class, which of course meant that they needed the desktop and all the cords plugged in to it. Yep, I stood in front of a class with no screen, PowerPoint, or notes really. Thank goodness I had gone over my presentation a couple times prior to the class so I had an idea of the flow without any notes or slides to help. I always say, "Technology is great....when it works".
5. Put forth some effort and energy. Sounds cliche, but I have my reasons!
- Do you like listening to monotone speakers? Probably not, so why would you want to be one? It's also more fun to listen to someone who is smiling, moving around, and showing some personality right? I sure think so!
I was uncomfortable at the beginning and with the tech issues I fumbled around for a minute, but then realized that I had to cover the information one way or another so mine as well dive right in! Being familiar with the information helped with this, obviously, but I tried to move around a little and not make everything roses and champagne. I included some funny horror stories and made some jokes about myself. Put yourself out there and put some energy into it!
Five years ago I would have found every excuse NOT to speak in front of people. Three years ago I would have said maybe with a group. One year ago I would have been shaking and beat red, probably making it as short as possible. Now, well I still shake a little and I definitely have "flight" thoughts before I have "fight" thoughts, but I'll do it! After I spoke last week I was actually thankful that I did it. Even though there were not that many people that had questions or talked to me after class I still felt good knowing that I had helped that small percentage that asked questions and had taken notes. Some have even emailed me since I spoke with questions or asking for advice.
I'd love to hear what y'all have learned from public speaker! Or if you still have those "flight" thoughts when the opportunity presents itself!
When I think about the connections I’ve made and the relationships I have maintained I can’t come up with a clear and concise answer for how to keep connections. There are a lot of factors that go into maintaining these relationships. Location is huge and how you connected is pretty big too. It is always going to be easier to maintain connections that are in the same town, or relatively close to where you are located, than staying connected with people who live far away. It can be done, but it is just a little more difficult. I’m going to break this down into a few sections and hopefully my experiences will help you all, or will at least be a reference for ideas for you!
Connections near you:
Connections in the same city, or within an hour or two, are the simplest. You should stay in communication with them and talk about common things in your area. Some examples are listed below:
Professors: Let’s start simple. Even though professors might not be the first people that come to mind when thinking of networking connections, they deserve to be talked about. Professors can connect you with alumni or other people in academia; they can (and probably will) be references for you either for graduate school or for employment in your future. Talk to your professors, establish a professional relationship with them, or at least with a few of them. I have been fortunate enough to attend conferences with a couple professors and have had them as advisors for student organizations I was in leadership positions of. (Speaking of conferences and student organizations, BE INVOLVED! More on this coming soon to the “college life” page!) – This semester I am not in class with two of my professors, but I make it a point to stop in their office once a week and at least say “Hello! How’s your week been?”. I usually ask them about something happening on campus or something they are involved with as well. In turn, they ask what I’ve been up to, how classes and work are going, how graduate school searches and applications are going, etc. and we stay really connected. Use your professors and advisors as resources!
Industry professionals that are in your area are also not too difficult, but are a little more of a stretch if you don’t see them every week. My advice for this would be to just randomly check in with them. If you can visit their office, great! If it is a simple email, that’s great too! – I had an adjunct professor one semester that worked in the Athletic Department for the University. I saw this as an amazing opportunity to pick her brain about her job and the path she took to get where she is. The first or second week of classes I talked to her and told her about my interests and goals (at the time I was not very specific with what I wanted to do, but knew I wanted more experience no matter where it came from). She is an amazing woman and has helped me so much since that day! I talked to her regularly before or after class and when the semester ended I job shadowed her a couple of times. She told me about some volunteer opportunities within the athletic department and with her specifically. I volunteered to help immediately! After that semester I emailed her when school started the next year to schedule her and her coworker as guest speakers for my student organization I was president of at the time. From there, I asked about more volunteer opportunities, which ultimately led me to interning with her for the past year. I have learned so much and found an area of sport that I enjoy more than I ever thought I would! I’ve used her as a reference for graduate school and asked for advice for graduate assistantships as well. This all happened because I introduced myself, shared my interests, and asked how I could gain more experience.
Not every experience will turn out this way, but you never know if you don’t try. Miss every shot you don’t take right? :)
Connections not near you:
Connections outside of your city or area, this one is incredibly difficulty to make suggestions on so instead I’m going to just tell you about some of my experiences, even the bad ones!
First, I, along with my executive board, planned a networking trip to Nashville, Tennessee in Spring of 2014. We visited the Nashville Sounds (Triple A Affiliate of the Oakland A’s), Nashville Predators, Vanderbilt Athletics/IMG Representatives, Ryman Auditorium, and the Nashville Sports Council. (Keep in mind that from this trip my networking experience was a little different because for two months prior to going I had been emailing these people to set up tours, meetings, parking arrangements, and whatever else needed to be planned. You can absolutely have this kind of experience too, but at the very least you can see how I handled some of these relationships afterwards.) After we did all of the tours and meetings I hand wrote thank you notes to EVERY person we spoke with. Just to give you an idea, the Predators had 10 people in our meeting room at one point, they ALL got a thank you note. (See my post on how to write professional thank you notes here!) I also added most of them on LinkedIn. I say most because some of them I either didn’t personally talk to, or I felt I didn’t get to know well enough to warrant a LinkedIn connection notification. I think it is important to not use LinkedIn by adding a professional after hearing their name one time, you should have a relationship and feel confident that when they see your name they will know who you are.
As time has gone on I have not stayed in contact with some of them for various reasons, but there are still two or three people from that trip that I keep updated on what I am doing and they keep me up to date on job opportunities or experiences that they think I’d be interested in. Some of the ones who I have not stayed in contact with are because they have switched jobs (out of the sports industry), I’ve lost their contact information because of a job change, or simply because they don’t respond or seem disinterested. It happens. You won’t be able to keep close connections with everyone you meet. Those who I have stayed in contact with though I try to email about once a semester or more if there is something that I really want to talk to them about. I also keep a close eye on them on LinkedIn. Recently one of the men I met from Nashville Sports Council took a different job in a different area of sports. I liked his job change on LinkedIn and researched the company. When I send him my next email I will ask about the move and the new company. I don’t just want to talk about myself with these connections, I also want to talk about them and what they’ve been up to.
Second, there is no such thing as a bad connection. It’s kind of like publicity; they say no form of publicity is bad publicity. The more people you know in and out of the industry the more educated you are and the more chance you have to learn of new things going on, companies, job openings, volunteer opportunities, etc. With that being said, there are some times when taking a step back might not be the worst idea. I had established a professional relationship with someone in a leadership role of a professional organization that was within my event planning interest area. This person often emailed a few of us job, networking, and educational opportunities. Which was great! However, after trying to bring this person to campus to guest speak and failing to schedule it, the situation became a little tense. I think it was unfortunate that schedules did not work out and that communication was difficult because of busy schedules by all parties. After a somewhat negative email being received I replied with an email where I tried to be as professional as possible and basically say “I’m sorry that schedules are not working out, but we are unable to have you on campus this semester. Please understand this and maybe we can try again in the fall.” After that I did not hear from the individual and I thought that perhaps my professional relationship with them and their organization was over. Recently I received an email from the same person with information about an upcoming conference and when I replied saying that I unfortunately could not attend because of work, I received a reply that my unavailability was not a problem and if I needed any help with post graduation life to please let them know. – I believe that by trying to handle the situation professionally and taking a step back the connection is still there. If I would have replied negatively or rude I think the connection would no longer exist.
Third, don’t overlook academic connections. During one of my conferences I attended I was approached about graduate school. To be 100% honest, I was about as against going to graduate school as a student could be! Even being against it, I engaged in conversation about it anyways. After hearing their pitch and doing some thinking I realized I might actually want to pursue it! The first program director that approached the group I was attending the conference with was from a university and program that really wasn’t for me, however I was very nice and inquisitive about their program. I decided to approach some of the graduate students attending the conference and ask their opinions about their program and graduate school in general. They led me to the director of their program and we had a great conversation. I gave him a business card and was very honest by telling him I really had not done much research on graduate programs, but was extremely interested in the program. He also gave me his business card and told me to contact him with any questions or if I decided to apply to their program. My professor, attending this conference with my group, also had a conversation with the program director regarding my potential interest in graduate school as well as my background and experience (another example of why connecting with your professors is important!). I’ve since then reached out to the director and applied to their program. Fingers crossed! --- To expand on this, the graduate students I met there and discussed all of this with are now people I talk to regularly and have helped me so, so much with my graduate school search! They may be more of friends, but they're also networking connections and have played an important role in my career and academic advancement.
We've covered what networking is, so how do you do it and where do you do it?
A. Confidence, practice, persistence, friendliness, professionalism, on and on..
From past experiences I know that networking can take place in an expected setting such as conferences, networking trips, classrooms, or guest speakers, but it can also happen in unexpected places. I attended the Wedding MBA Conference in Las Vegas a few years ago and while a group of us were out one night a woman in a restroom asked where we were from. After telling her we were students attending a conference she told us she was from New Orleans and would love to bring some Mizzou students down to her event planning company as interns. She gave us her business card and we spoke a few times after the conference. Another example would be when one of my close friends attended an event in South Carolina a few years ago and while we were on the plane back to Chicago the man next to him started speaking to him about his connections with professional sports teams in Kansas City. They stayed in contact long after that and discussed multiple internship and job opportunities in the KC area. Networking can happen anywhere!
The point of these stories is, yes you should put yourself out there and attend events that are going to obviously be good networking opportunities, but you should also be prepared at any time to talk about yourself and express your desires and plans with people. You may just be sitting on an airplane when you get your shot!
Now, to go back to the "how" part of this article... that is a little more difficult. To start, here are my key suggestions based of my successes and failures with this:
1. Learn how to talk about yourself.
2. Research! (Even if it is just a little, tiny bit)
3. Don't be something you're not.
4. Business Cards! Personally, I think they're more beneficial than taking resumes, more about this below :)
1. Learn how to talk about yourself. This is something I still struggle with honestly. Are you talking too much? Do you sound too confident? Too uncertain? Unimpressive? Are you clearly expressing your goals? - It's a lot to consider and worry about, especially in a situation where a small mess up could be harmful to your future. Take a breath. No one knows you better than you do!
I've tried to set goals for myself when networking.
1. Get my main career goal out there to the person
2. Mention one or two facts about my experience or past
3. Compliment them or ask about something they've done
4. Give them contact information
First goal listed is the whole point of networking! If I'm in a place with other sports industry professionals, I say the departments I'm interested in working in. If I'm with event planning professionals I talk about how much I'd like to do events for sports teams or playoffs (etc.). If I'm with academics, I mention my goals of graduate school and becoming a professor after working in the industry for a while. If it's a mix of people that may or may not help me with my career, I still mention a career goal, but don't get as specific unless they ask. At that point it's more about gaining a contact and getting your name out there, not so much a job or (immediate) opportunity.
Secondly, I mention a fact or two just to show that I do have experience in the industry and that I am working toward my goal, not just dreaming or wishing. This is followed by complimenting them or asking them about their role or background. I'll get into this more below. Lastly, make sure you give them contact information! I am AWFUL with names, so if I don't write it down or get a business card, I probably won't remember your name no matter how hard I try. Give them something with your name and a way to contact you so they don't have to work so hard to remember you!
2. Research! There are a lot of people who want to be the Special Events Director for the St. Louis Cardinals and Busch Stadium. She receives emails upon emails daily stating interest in a job or internship. So, when I met with her during a tour of Busch Stadium I made it a point to introduce myself during the tour and while walking from place to place held conversation with her. It was mostly two or three of us with her during these conversations, but at one point it was just her and I speaking. The Cardinals had hosted a soccer game that past summer during the season and the outfield had been really torn up, some people had blamed poor play from outfielders on the field conditions caused by the soccer game. I realized that she was the one who booked this soccer game, so I asked her if they had any soccer games scheduled during the upcoming season and if they had received any backlash from scheduling that game. (Please realize if you ask a question like this you have to be tactful and ask politely. Saying "so did someone yell at you because the soccer game tore up the field during the season?", is NOT going to get you very far.) She was impressed that I followed the Cardinals and the events the stadium was putting on so closely. We discussed my question as well as my career goals and my background for at least 15 minutes afterwards. I have attended multiple events where she recognizes me and greets me. My detailed question made me stand out from those who stayed quiet. If you want more examples of this I have plenty, just comment below or email me! :)
3. This is simple. Don't be something you're not. Don't say you have three years of work experience if you don't. Don't say you're president of a student organization if you're not. Don't say your GPA or GRE score is higher than it is. These lies and bending of truth will come out sooner or later. Just be you! If you aren't happy with the you that you can present then look for more opportunities to build your resume and gain experience!
4. Business Cards - I LOVE business cards and I LOVE designing business cards! You can do so many cool things with them and they are so convenient! I used to take resumes with me on networking trips, but it is awkward to hand this stranger a resume as a way to stay in contact. It's also hard to carry resumes with you without bending them or tearing them. I love that I can just pull out my business card holder and hand them a very professional business card with all of my contact information. I would suggest getting business cards to anyone! If you want help with design or content just comment below! I'll try to push a post out about that very soon as well!
As always, if you have questions, comment or email me! Hope this helped!
Part III on maintaining networking connections will be coming soon!
The phrase "it's not what you know, it's who you know", is not just a phrase. Nope, not at all. It is the truth. Yes, you need to have a degree, possibly more than just your Bachelor's, but experience and who you know count for a lot more than that expensive piece of paper does.
Picture it like this, your degree is your invitation to the dinner party, but your connections (made via networking) are what actually get you in the door. Want to take it further? Your experience with these networking connections are what get you a seat at the main table.
So what is this magic way to get you at the table? Well, it isn't magic. It isn't guaranteed. You actually have to work at it and put forth effort. Networking is a way for you to get your name out there, sell yourself, make an impression. It really can be as simple as a short, but impressive, elevator pitch that leads to job shadowing or a new mentor. It can also be more complex, you may have to talk to this person multiple times in multiple ways before they start to remember you. Either is okay!
My short answer for "what is networking?", would be that networking is communicating professionally with another person. Good networking is communicating professionally with another person where you share information about yourself and learn about the other individual as well. This exchange of information leads to sharing of contact information, staying in touch, and, in the best cases, asking for advice, mentoring, or job advice/recommendations. Connecting with professionals is a great way to build your personal network and promoting your personal brand, or reputation, in a way that can help you land an internship, job, or opportunity to connect with other professionals that can help you in a variety of ways.
Hopefully this brief recap of what networking helps to explain a little of the what and why. Part II covers where and how to network.
Want more information? Comment below & we'll get back to you!
When you think of thank you notes most people think of writing them for gifts or because people attended something of yours, but once you are in college and start looking for a job they become more than just a thank you. When you're looking for a job or networking with people, following up with a thank you card is one of the best things you can do, it makes you stand out! Taking time out of your day to hand write a thank you note to a potential employer or networking connection shows that you care and truly appreciate their time. It is evident to me when I have walked into a professor's, mentor's, or industry professional's office to see a thank you note I've sent them displayed on their desk or wall. If they are willing to display them in their offices, they clearly mean something more to them!
Step 1: Make a list of recipients
If you have attended a career fair, networking trip, or gone through multiple interviews, you probably have more than one person that you need to write thank you notes to. I make a list of all of the people who need to receive them and check them off as I finish them. This way you don't forget someone when you are halfway through writing and you can check them off as they are ready to send!
Step 2: Acknowledge their time
After addressing the person I am writing, my first line typically includes how much I appreciated their time and when it was. For example, "I wanted to say thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to talk with me a few weeks ago." You can expand on this with the specific date or location if you want.
Step 3: Address what you talked about
Did you talk about their job? Schooling? Volunteering? Whatever the meeting was about, mention it in your note. If they have a busy schedule or had several similar meetings recently it will help to remind them of you and your specific interaction with them.
Step 4: Tell them what you're taking away
If someone took the time to meet with you they, more than likely, want to help you and hope that something they said will be useful to you. By mentioning what you learned from them, it shows that you listened and are applying things from the meeting to your life. An example could be, "Now that I know you're company hires interns for each semester, I plan to apply for an internship the next fall semester!" - It is also important to remember that if they can see you have learned something from their meeting, and are actually using it, they will be more likely to help you again. If you ask them for advice and then don't pay attention or apply what they said, it may be viewed as a waste of time.
Step 5: Close with a "thank you" or a future plan
I always use a closing line of, "Again, thank you very much for your time!", or "I appreciated your advice and hope to stay in contact with you moving forward!"
These steps are the five that I have followed when writing thank you notes and have worked well for me, but they may need adjusted to work for you! You can always add to these steps, I usually do, but they are good building blocks for thank you notes!