Stories from sport industry professionals
Academia gives a student the tools to succeed, but how one utilizes the tools creates the level of success for graduates. Preparing for that dream career or dream job in some cases is the easy part, and upon graduation everyone needs that first break or bit of luck to make it in the sports industry. What if successful people in the sports industry had an outlet to share their career wisdom?
Throughout my career, I have always enjoyed guest lecturing, mentoring and doing countless number of informational interviews. In some ways, I find it inspiring to know how hungry the next generation is to get into this wonderful career of sports. The genesis for the idea about a blog about cool sports jobs all started one evening last winter while guest lecturing for the Sports Adminstration program at Ohio University. I think the exact quote was, “Dude, you know everyone and have tons of contacts, you should start a blog and interview people on our behalf.” The students implored me to use my connections and access to tell the stories of successful people in the sports industry and, more importantly, how they got from point A to point Z. It is easy for students and young grads to imagine that dream job, but understanding the path and appreciating all of the zigs and zags is a whole different game. Of course, it goes without saying that any advice a young person can obtain for breaking into the industry (and maybe just as important being successful once they have caught the first break) is invaluable. My goal for the blog is to share stories from those that have succeeded and pay it forward.
I have been fortunate to be a part of the sports industry for 20+ years and in a crazy variety of roles. My career has touched many people and many industries and I have been blessed to bounce different directions. When I graduated from the University of Kansas with a degree in Economics, I never expected to work for the Sprint corporate sponsorship group activating major properties like the NFL, U.S. Ski Team, or the PGA of America. Somehow, that led to sports marketing jobs with the largest architecture firm in the world and an industry-leading concessionaire. Being a huge believer in giving back and karma, I have always enjoyed mentoring, guest lecturing and trying to help the next generation of sports industry experts break into the world that can be so enjoyable.
Some question why I find it necessary to stay in touch with every person I have ever met in life, but I find it very beneficial. Once I committed to starting a blog about “cool” sports jobs, it was critical to have a strong network of friends and colleagues scattered about the industry. I felt it was important to interview a wide variety of people within the industry to appeal to a wide audience of students with a wide spectrum of dreams. The blog is broken up into categories so it is easy to search within collegiate, professional sports and goods & service providers. Hopefully, the blog has both inspired and motivated folks to realize those dream jobs are possible; maybe it has even provided a road map on how to reach that destination. It can be tough to break into the sports industry, where every job is in extremely high demand, so hearing authentic stories from real people doing real jobs was the main focus of the blog. My hope is there is a piece of advice or a quote that makes a small difference who read the blog. As Tom Bowen, AD at the University of Memphis likes to say, “Life is not about waiting for the storm to pass; life is about learning how to dance in the rain.”