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VOL. 45 | NO. 41 | Friday, October 8, 2021

Want a job in pro sports? Yeah, so does everyone else

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Ever dreamed of working in professional sports? Who wouldn’t want to get up and go to work for their favorite sports franchise? Every day would be fun and exciting, and you might even meet a few of the players. Sounds amazing, right?

I’ve met a number of folks over the years who’ve spent the majority of their career in the highest levels of professional sports, including basketball, golf and baseball. And I’ve noticed common themes. They all work extremely hard. They all travel – a lot. And, they’re all thrilled to be working in pro sports. It was a life dream that they each worked toward for many years.

David E. Cooley, UCLA’s director of alumni career resources and a longtime Los Angeles resident and career coach, has often worked with clients who also have an interest breaking into sports. His advice is simple:

• Your love of sports alone will never get you the job. In fact, it might be seen as a negative.

• Get as much education and experience as you can in the sports arena.

• Be prepared to work your way up from the bottom.

This point regarding working your way up in professional sports is well-taken. A Memphis Grizzlies alumnus shared that everyone he’d met in a senior leadership position in professional sports had started at the bottom, often as interns.

That’s probably great news if you’re a recent college graduate. But it can be trickier if you’re more seasoned and have commitments like a mortgage or a family. If you have a lifestyle you need to maintain, you’ll want to do diligent research into pay. Positions in pro sports often pay less than equivalent positions in other industries.

Pay is low because so many people want these jobs. Candidates will take less money to get them, which means you likely will have to do the same in order to be competitive.

Also keep in mind that your perfect job in professional sports might not be in your city, so you’ll want to be open to moving – and to working for another team.

The last key to finding a job in pro sports is networking. Your reputation and who you know will help you to bypass the piles of applicant resumes.

Keep in mind that this foot-in-the-door approach is not for every industry. In fact, I’d rarely recommend it for any other situation. But, with so many applicants for these positions, you often have to be more flexible in order to be competitive.

My intention isn’t to detour you from your sports career. It’s to provide guidance on where to begin and what expectations to set.

Angela Copeland, a career expert and founder of Copeland Coaching, can be reached at copelandcoaching.com.

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