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Managing Monday: Utilizing Unique Experiences To Land A Job In Sports

March 11, 2013

A few weeks ago I spoke to students at Marquette University School of Law about how I began working in sports.  Afterwards, I met individually with a 1L student looking for guidance on what type of sports career she should work towards.

The first thing I asked the student, was about her background.  Where did she attend undergrad?  What did she study there?  What types of organizations and extracurricular activities was she involved with?  The reason I asked these questions, was to get a sense of the experiences she gained in her undergraduate studies which make her unique.  What did she have that few others share?  To me, it is these things that make a person marketable and thus, the assets they should focus upon when searching for a job.

In speaking with this young woman, I learned that she completed her undergraduate studies at a university most recently known for its football prowess over the last five years.  She grew up around football, as her father is a former player.  Thus, while in college, she found herself working for one of the best football staffs in recent history.  She managed to work her way up the program, and ultimately found herself responsible for various aspects of the program’s recruiting, including watching film.

She explained the above very matter-of-factly to me, as if it was nothing special or impressive.  However, as she explained her background to me, my jaw was nearly on the floor.  Her background was amazing.  It is something few other men–let alone women–have.  Her knowledge of the game of football, ability to breakdown plays through film, experience recruiting players along with her intelligence make her an incredibly attractive candidate for a number of sports jobs.

After going through her background, I thought it was important that I asked her what she ideally would like to do in sports before giving her my ideas.  She mentioned that a career in sports media would interest her, as would a career being an agent.

Luckily, she named the one career I believe her unique experiences best suit her for.  In my eyes, this woman’s background make her qualified beyond belief to become an agent.  She knows how to recruit, which is the most important challenge any agent faces.  She can read and understand film, which is something most agents do not entirely know how to do.  And, she has the personality and smarts to be a successful businesswoman. 

After breaking this down for her, it was like we had reached an epiphany.  I was able to tell her how her very unique experiences make her an incredibly unique candidate for work as an agent.  The wool was pulled from her eyes, and she was quickly realizing that she had a marketable background.  She mentioned to me that she never saw her background as something very unique or exciting.  However, it certainly is.

The point here, is that we all have exciting and unique backgrounds that make us well-suited for certain jobs.  But, how do we realize which things in our lives that we might think are ordinary, but are really selling points for sports jobs?

The first thing I would suggest, is to make a list describing the various points of your background.  Go through the history of your background on paper, like I did with the young lady above during our conversation.  Write down what you think are even the most mundane things in your background.

After writing the list, brainstorm and write down up to three dream jobs in sports that you would enjoy working in.  Do you want to be an agent?  A general manager?  An NCAA compliance officer?  After brainstorming these jobs, write below them the specific experience and traits that these jobs require. 

Next, place the two lists next to each other.  How can each of your unique experiences address the needs that your dream jobs require?  Write a third list with explanations for each of the job positions you listed.

Ultimately, what you are doing here is verbalizing how your unique experiences address the needs of a job you want.  Knowing this will allow you to better succeed in an interview process.  Likewise, it will help you craft better cover letters.  At the smallest level, it will help you find a career that is best suited for you, your experiences and your interests.

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