Sports management is a highly competitive field, but it's not impossible to get the job or internship of your dreams working for a pro sports team, college athletic program, or other sport business organization.
"It's about building your networks, about having an academic foundation in the sport industry, and about getting experience. If you have those three things, you should be able to break into this industry and be very successful," says Dr. Eric Schwarz, chair and professor of sport business at Saint Leo University.
Internships are just as important for sport business graduate students who come from other industries as they are for undergraduates, Schwarz adds. Follow these steps to land an internship.
1. Get involved
Before you even start looking for a sport business internship, you'll need experience outside of the classroom. One way to start building relevant experience for your resume is through volunteering. You could help with game-day operations at a local stadium, coach a youth sports team, work at a summer sports camps, or help at a local sports tournament.
To get involved, contact a local college or high school athletics department, or contact a local sports organization's business office to learn about volunteer opportunities. You may even come across paid part-time jobs such as working in the ticket sales booth, helping the marketing staff, or working as a weekend sales associate at a sporting goods retailer.
Networking is extremely important for obtaining jobs or internships in the sport business industry.
Schwarz recommends students start networking by asking their professors about whom they know and could contact for informational interviews to learn more about working for specific organizations.
Also consider your college's alumni network.
For example, Schwarz says during the 2013 Super Bow, seven Saint Leo students volunteered at the NFL Experience and also visited the New Orleans Saints' and New Orleans Hornets' business offices. This experience was made possible through connections with two Saint Leo alumni—one who was vice president of ticket sales for the New Orleans Saints and another who was an account executive for the New Orleans Hornets.
3. Know where to look
Use sport business online job boards to find out the types of positions that are available, the requirements for the positions, and application deadlines. Then take the courses, learn specific computer software, or get the out-of-class experience needed to land your dream internship.
Schwarz says TeamWork Online is the central place to look for jobs and internships in professional sports, while the NCAA marketplace is the best place to look for college sport business jobs and internships. Other industry-specific job search websites include Bluefishjobs.com and WorkinSports.com.
In addition, you can target your internship search by going directly to a league's, team's, or school's website (look for an employment, careers, or HR department link). And don't forget about semi-pro sports teams, local and national sports associations, and sporting good corporations, too.
Try these internship and job search websites to start your search:
- Arena Football League internships
- Major League Soccer internship opportunities
- NASCAR internships
- National Association for Sport and Physical Education internships
- National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics
- NHL internships
- NFL Summer Internship Program
- Special Olympics internships
- U.S. Olympic Committee internships
- NIKE, Inc.
4. Apply, apply, apply.
Sport business internships are highly competitive. Several internship programs have fall deadlines (some as early as September), so remember to apply early.
Paid internships that require a bachelor's degree may provide good opportunities for students enrolled in Saint Leo's MBA sport business concentration degree program. Apply to as many internships that interest you.
If possible, broaden your search to include internships across the country—or even across the globe—so you can find an internship that best suits your career goals and interests.
Have you had a great internship experience? How did you land the position?
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