We received a special treat last month when local magazine Tiger Rag featured the ladies of LSU Football in their April/May issue. We had so much fun doing the photoshoot in Tiger Stadium and being included in this article together. The author focused on each of our unique stories about how we started with the LSU Football program, and it was interesting to read the different paths we each took to work for the same program.
You can read the full article – A Woman’s Place: The Ladies of LSU Football – here!
This made me think about some of the frequently asked questions I receive about working in sports. I was part of a Sports Summit last fall for the Manship School of Mass Communication, and I met a lot of LSU students who are trying to work in the media and/or sports industries. I started receiving emails pretty regularly about the topic, so I thought I would put together a series including tips about working in sports and the media with advice on how to get started in these fields.
Today, I am sharing with you five tips on creating open lines of communication that helped me land a job working in sports media. I think this goes without saying, but communication is essential to getting any type of job. It is not only important to communicate, but to communicate correctly.
While I was still in college, I sent my resume reel to all of the stations in Baton Rouge hoping for a job. I didn’t get hired by any of the stations, but I unknowingly made a forever friend in WAFB-TV Sports Director Steve Schneider. I never interned or worked for Steve, but when my resume came across his desk he reached out to me. We met for lunch where he gave me great advice, and six months later KNOE-TV in Monroe, La. called me to come interview for an on-air position. I sent my reel out to at least 100 stations while applying for jobs, but I never sent it to Monroe. Steve heard of a job opening there and sent in my reel without me knowing.
Two weeks later I was the weekend sports anchor at KNOE.
My first internship was with FOX Sports Houston after my sophomore year of college. I received the opportunity to interview based on a recommendation from reporter Emily Jones who works for FOX in Dallas. To this day, I still have never met Emily in person. She was roommates with my sister-in-law’s sister at Texas Tech and my sister-in-law told her sister about me and her sister contacted her old roommate, Emily. Follow that?! I got the internship, and ten years later I still keep in touch with a lot of the people I interned for, including a guy who would eventually offer me my first full-time job out of college.
You never know who might be that person who helps connect you with an opportunity. Getting a job in broadcast and sports is about knowing people. Having a good resume and reel is extremely important, but that is not the only thing that is going to get you a job or even just an interview. It is imperative to network and connect with others in the business. On the flip side of that, remember that you will rely on others for help so be sure to make a good impression that sells yourself in a positive way. I have found success due in large part to the various people who have personally helped me and who have given me opportunities. Then, it was my job to make the most out of those opportunities.
Don’t wait for someone to find you or for the career center at your university to hook you up with a job or interview. Working in sports media is all about the hustle, and you will do a lot of the ground work on your own. This is something that I tell each student that emails me. So, you decided that you want to work in sports, but what is it that you really want to do? Marketing, sports information, broadcast, etc.? Decide on a couple of areas you are interested in, and then find people who are already in those positions. Look at company or university directories to find out who is in charge of what. E-mail them or call them and find out how they got their position and if they know of any opportunities that can put you on the same track. Ask questions (but don’t ask for everything to be done for you…more on that later), do your research and make connections and relationships.
I am a product of a thank-you note writing mother, and I handwrite notes for almost everything. While you don’t necessarily need to go the snail mail route (even though it does leave a good impression), always follow-up after an interview or if someone took their time to help you. I received a handwritten note from one of the Miss LSU contestants thanking me for being a judge, and it left me with a lasting positive impression. I always try to answer every email where people ask me questions or for advice, and I put a lot of thought into each response and sometimes even offer to meet with people. When I don’t ever hear back from someone after taking my time to answer, it doesn’t leave a very good impression with me. I have also had quite a few students interview me in-person for school projects or reach out to have me answer questions for them, and sometimes after I answer the questions, I will never hear from them again. Don’t do this. Show that you are appreciative for the help you received and for having someone spend their time on you. People’s time is valuable, so don’t take it for granted.
When I graduated college I had a job interview lined up in New York to be a researcher for CBS Sports. They said it could be a phone interview, but I thought I would show initiative and go up there and also try to apply for some other jobs. Y’all, I walked through New York City handing out my resume and reel to network stations (insert hysterically crying laughing emoji here). Most of the places wouldn’t even accept it, but I walked to all of the networks trying to leave my unexperienced resume reel in their hands. I don’t know if I watched too much Sex & the City in college or what, but I honestly thought that might work. It’s funny to look back on it now, but it also makes me proud to know that I was willing to try anything because I wanted it so badly.
Getting a job working in sports and the media is not easy, but if you put yourself out there and are open to different opportunities then you will have a better chance of landing something.
SIDENOTE: I didn’t get the job with CBS, but I did run into a contact at the CBS offices I knew from being a runner for SEC on CBS as a student, and he helped hook me up with another job down the line. See how this networking thing works? That contact was Craig Silver who is the producer of the SEC on CBS. I still keep in touch with him, and he is one of my all-time favorite people in this business. I love when LSU games get picked up for the 2:30 pm slot on CBS in the fall, because that means I will get to see Craig in our offices.
FIND AND GIVE SUPPORT
As a women in sports, it is important to find other women who share the same type of passion you do. I wrote a whole post on finding women who get it, but I am so lucky to have shared a big portion of my career in sports with the women featured in this post. When coaches start working at LSU they always tell us how there isn’t a group of women like us at any of the other schools they have coached at. Since I have worked for LSU I haven’t known it to be any other way. Having the support system of the ladies in our office directly relates to the success I have experienced so far in sports.
It is also important to find others in media, because (and I am being real honest here) sometimes it can feel like a knock-down industry filled with comparisons and competition. The quicker you find other women doing the same thing as you, the quicker it is to let this type of negative stuff go and focus on what is really important.
As I wrote this extremely long post, I realized there are so many more tips I can share that I basically wrote multiple posts for this series already. Let me know if you have any questions or if there are other areas of advice you would like…or if you would just like a shorter post!