This is a topic that’s relatively close to me because my younger brother is a huge sports fan and has participated in several sports internships (he is quite the Intern King). Whether it’s golf, tennis, baseball, football, basketball, sports medicine, sports management, sports marketing, or becoming a sports agent that you are into, sports is definitely a great world to become part of but also a hard egg to crack. I compiled some information to assist students in finding the sports internship of their dreams.
I asked my younger brother who is actively working/interning in the Sports Industry his thoughts on Sports Internships, “Right now with the economy where it is, the sports industry is looking for inexpensive help. With ticket prices and sponsorship slowly declining they are looking for innovative ways to get the sport to the fan for cheaper while still creating a profit. It’s the perfect time for interns to help out and get a beneficial learning experience.”
1. RESEARCH YOUR FAVORITES. Get on the internet and start conducting some research on your favorite players, coaches, analysts, agents and read about how they got started. Make notes on companies that they worked for, lessons they learned along the way, their personal suggestions.
2. REACH OUT LOCALLY. In most businesses you are required to work your way up from the bottom and sports is no exception. I suggest calling your local teams and finding out if they have any part-time job openings or internship openings during the school year or the summer. This is something that you should do as early as possible – even while in high school if possible. I’m from Tampa, Florida so my younger brother contacted the Tampa Bay Devil Rays (now the Rays), the Tampa Bay Lightning, Tampa Bay Storm (arena football), and the Clearwater Phillies (our minor league team).
3. DON’T BE PICKY. You want to get a foot in the door so if you get a call to be the towel guy in your local baseball team’s clubhouse, take the position. It’s all about forming great relationships with the players, coaches, managers, operations staff, etc. You never know when these relationships will come in handy. My brother, Jonathan, started interning at the local Clearwater Phillies stadium just helping out and doing operational tasks. It wasn’t what he wanted to do but it was in the sports industry and it helped him build his contacts.
4. TIME TO DO YOUR HOMEWORK. When sports students create their version of the “Intern Queen’s Dream List” they have some heavy research ahead of them. Because baseball is done on a seasonal basis and not by semester it requires some looking into very far ahead of time. Most baseball teams run internship programs during Spring Training or during the regular season. Many teams have programs where the students housing and expenses are covered for the entire season. Because of college credit reasons, many students cannot participate in these programs until they are juniors or seniors. Also note that sports interns often have to work more hours than interns in other companies. Your “Intern Queen’s Dream List” should have 10 dream companies nationally that you’d like to work for (teams, organizations, companies, etc) and 10 smaller-scale sports businesses. You need to write the contact phone number for each of these companies.
5. GET ALL OF THE INFO. When you reach out to these companies you will call and ask to speak with the internship coordinator. You can also check out the company website. Make sure you get all of the information (application deadline, location, housing situation, hour requirements, salary if any, etc.)
6. ATTEND SPORTS CONFERENCES. The sports business has several conventions throughout the year that are great for meeting the right people and networking. Check out any sporting events that are going on in your city or nearest metro area. Call the convention and ask if they have student prices. If they don’t – perhaps you can cover the event for your school newspaper and get a press pass. Just being at these conferences/conventions makes you look like an ambitious, enthusiastic individual.
7. LOOK BEYOND THE TEAM. Yes, it’s many student’s dream to work for a sports team but sometimes that doesn’t work out. Have a Plan B and look for other options in your area. When my brother couldn’t work for a professional sports team at his school (University of Central Florida) he explored the city’s other sports companies. He found that the Golf Channel and AAU (Amateur Athletic Union) were right in the area. He ended up taking a Spring internship at AAU Sports and got to attend tons of sporting events and got the experience of helping put them together. Jonathan also did some research and came across the Orlando Sports Commission Internships, he participated in that one as well. By participating in all of these different types of internships he was able to learn all aspects of the sports industry.
8. DON’T GIVE UP. If your internship in sports doesn’t work out, make sure you don’t give up hope. If you have your dream list in front of you – you should have at least 20 companies locally and nationally that you could apply to intern with. If one opportunity doesn’t work out, it wasn’t meant to be at that time, go onto the next. Jonathan (my brother) was super excited this past year to have an internship for the Spring of 09 with the Arena Football Team in Orlando. Well, it turns out that Arena Football got cancelled for this season. Did Jonathan give up ? Nope. He looked back at his dream list, and looked at other possibilities for sports-related internships in Orlando. He had reached out to the Orlando Sentinel (the major Orlando newspaper) and asked if they had sports internships available. They didn’t have any internships available but what they did have was PAID freelance writing positions for the sports department. Jonathan is now a PAID Sports writer for the Sentinel. That just goes to show what a positive outlook can do for you.
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Article by, Lauren Berger, dubbed “The Intern Queen” after participating in fifteen internships during her four years in college. She built her “Intern Queen”brand in May of 2006 and recently teamed up with Quarterlife to create the Quarterlife Internship Program where students can get FREE access to internships in the entertainment and journalism fields. Berger also provides Internship Advice and Content for students.