I always say sports has been my first love. This made choosing my college major and overall career path incredibly easy. I am fascinated by the team-to-fan relationship. Why do fans love a team? What keeps fan coming back to games? How do you strengthen that relationship? How do I continually improve this? These questions run through my mind every time I see a team’s social media post, an in-game promotion, or even watching the way execs handle fan conduct. As a junior at the University of Nevada, Reno, I’ve been lucky to be exposed to a ranked NCAA basketball team, the introduction to a new USL team, a NBA-G League partnership affiliation, and an overall growing sports market.
And the sports marketing field is one of the most desired and competitive industries for college business majors. This unique field is sought after by so many students because not only does it keep you on your toes, it allows you to have fun on the job. However, it can be challenging in college to make yourself stand out from a crowd of thousands of students who all want the same job or internship. As a student, you need to be willing to put in time and hard work to see it all pay off after graduation.
Here are tips and tricks to make yourself stand out in the sports marketing industry as a student.
Create Your Value
Be as valuable as possible. Be able to offer something that no other student can offer. It can be determination, hard work, or an actual skill. Instead of saying “I passed out fliers,” say “I helped distribute promotional material to our target audience.” Flip every negative you have into a positive, and be willing to learn from the mistakes you have made. You want to be wanted and in high demand.
Don’t Just Take Opportunities, Make Them
Create your own opportunities. Reach out to people. Ask them if there are any opportunities for shadowing available at the organization. Email sports professionals in your area and ask about their journey in sports. You never know who might be looking to hire. I wouldn’t be writing this article right now if I hadn’t reached out to Sparkle and Sports expressing my interest. Be willing to ask for what you want and ready to do whatever it takes to get there.
Make people remember you. Make networking more personal. When you meet a professional in a position you want one day, make yourself known. Ask them to get coffee so you can learn more about their position. Ask to give them a call to understand the sports marketing world better. Rachel Golden of the Sacramento Kings actually said she prefers personal meetings and is more likely to want that individual on her staff in the future. Also, don’t be afraid to use your “student card.” Tell people you are a student and are looking to learn. Generally, professionals are willing to help students out as much as they can. And above all: follow-up, follow-up, and follow-up.
Use Social Media
Be as innovative as possible, and understand how social media can help you do this. Always remember that LinkedIn can be your best friend. Fix up your profile and start connecting with people that can help you in the future. When you connect, get to know them and be sure to send them a personal message. Twitter can be made professional too. Shout out and tag people and places you like. Posts things about the team you want to work for or players you’d like to highlight. Dustin Toms of the Sacramento Kings really emphasizes the ability to keep up with data and trends to overall help an organization. In summary, create and foster your online presence.
Separate Yourself From the Sport
It is perfectly fine to want to work in sports because you are a sports fan, but you need to understand the organization or the sport on a deeper level. Be able to tell an employer what intrigues you about the industry and what you want to see done better. Sophie Ozier of the Arkansas Travelers was one of first people to tell me that I need to be able to back up being a fan. In an interview, whether for a position or in an informational interview, tell employees where you can see improvement and how your skills apply. Make sure you are able to connect on a marketing level just as much on fan level.
Set Real Goals
If you set a goal to work for the Golden State Warriors as Director of Marketing after graduation without having any marketing experience or connections, you are likely to be shot down. Set realistic, yet still optimistic, goals for yourself. Once in the sports marketing industry, build yourself up in your current position and connect with your coworkers. Absorb all the information you can from these professionals and when you are ready to move up, take the right steps to get to a higher position.
As mentioned before, the sports marketing field is extremely difficult to break into. You need to grow your network now and rack up experience now. Show a team that they need you. Make sure you set yourself up as a student to smoothly transition into the real world.