College students choose divergent paths when deciding how to navigate the halls of higher education. Some live in the library, polishing their impressive GPA while others party hard, earning semi-passable grades. Many hold a part-time job, a few work full-time and some earn no paycheck at all, relying on some combination of parents, scholarships and loans to pay their way. For those hoping to eventually secure a job in the sports industry, gaining experience through on and off campus sports jobs is a must. A myriad of sports job opportunities are available to students willing to work hard and take the initiative. Sports-related college and university employment helps build resumes, and makes internship and professional job candidates more appealing to prospective employers.
Write local. If sports journalism is in your future, there is no substitute for practical experience. You’ll learn valuable information in class but hands-in-the-dirt reporting and writing will validate your career choice and beef up your resume. The majority of colleges and universities still serve up news locally though some may only be delivered digitally. Become a member of the staff – paid or unpaid – to learn how news is collected, organized and distributed. Even if the sports staff isn’t looking for new contributors, accept any position and work your way into the sports department. Aside from the school news department, applying for a position at the town’s paper is a viable option. It might be called an internship or it may be a low paying part-time job but, either way, you’ll take away a lot about the news business. Learn the importance of networking while you’re at it, the true way jobs are secured in today’s market. Universities are full of creativity; there are many ways to hone your writing craft while earning your degree.
Visit the Intercollegiate Athletics office. College is its own insulated community with students doing much of the grunt work. But you don’t have to don a hair net and flip burgers to make some cash. For those interested in sports management, the Intercollegiate Athletics office is the place to be. Whether you’re working in ticket operations or calling potential donors, you’ll understand the basics of running a sports organization. Even working a stadium concession stand or handling team equipment gives you basic event and personnel management learnings. The Intercollegiate Athletics office is a phenomenal place to explore your options. There are different opportunities to try and, if you prove useful and reliable, there will be chances to move up. Hire into the office early, move around to pick up various skills and build out your network to secure your sports industry future. And who knows? You might land yourself a full-time paid position in the office post-graduation.
Hit the radio waves. Broadcasting majors will realize that the working world brings with it years of weekend and overnight radio shifts. It takes time to earn a primo spot on a major sports radio network. Sports radio hosts can expedite that process by using valuable college years to build up a resume and better their skillset. College radio stations are somewhat pliable, allowing students some flexibility in creating a line up and running the show. Get involved in the college radio scene as anything from an overnight shift sound engineer or sports score update host. This type of real world experience does wonders when applying for internships. And nothing dissolves broadcasting nerves better than being on-air regularly. Campus radio is a boon for broadcasting students but it isn’t the only option. Consider applying with the team that broadcasts the action on game day. Most schools have broadcast teams for football and basketball but larger universities do play-by-play for less visible sports as well. On-air or behind-the-scenes, use these platforms as another way to prepare for your post collegiate professional career.
Create your own content. Is your campus so small that they can’t support sports teams or a college newspaper? While it’s rare, there are schools of higher learning that – gasp – are strictly about education. Don’t let that prevent you from using your college years wisely to develop your professional sports skills. New media makes content creation easier than ever. Sports broadcasting buffs start their own podcast covering their favorite teams and sports leagues. Aspiring journalists create free or cheap sports blogs via Blogger and WordPress. And sports management professionals that want to get into an organization’s front office can scout on their own free time, taking road trips to games and studying players’ strengths and weaknesses. Photographers can also attend regional games and, while you might not have a press pass, take pictures of the events on the field. Content creation in college may not earn you much, if any, cash but it fills a resume and stocks a portfolio that you can present to potential employers when it’s time to grab an internship or full-time position.