LSU held spring commencement last week, so I thought this was a good time for the next installment of my Working in Sports series. Earlier this month I shared different ways you can create communication which could possibly lead to job or other learning opportunities. When it comes to working in sports and media, jobs can be hard to come by because there are a lot of qualified individuals looking to fill a limited amount of open positions. So, you need to make sure your work in college is enough to help you land that job.
In short – you have to hustle, but it’s a fun type of hustle. One of the most important ways to hustle is to get experience. Here are some ways you can gain experience while you are in college that can help jumpstart your career in sports or media after graduation.
I can honestly say, I don’t know if I would be in the position in my career today without having a student job while I was in college. I worked for the LSU Football team for all four years I was at LSU, and I know my student-experience directly translated into me getting my current position with the Tigers. Student jobs are incredibly important to start your career because 1.) you are learning different aspects of a specific industry, 2.) you are gaining valuable experience and 3.) you are constantly networking. At LSU (and I am sure most other universities across the country), there are student jobs specializing in almost every career field, including sports and media.
My advice here – if you want to work in sports or media, start in college. Put together a list of possible jobs you are interested in, see who is in that position at your university and simply reach out to them. Ask if there are any opportunities for student jobs or volunteering. If there are none available or they are full for the semester, ask for some advice on what you could do next. Keep the lines of communication open if you feel comfortable with who you are talking to and follow-up with them. Students reach out to me all the time, and while I don’t have any jobs I can offer working with me, I try to point them in the direction of those in charge of other jobs that might interest them. Again, it’s perfectly normal to ask for advice, but don’t ask someone to do all the research and work for you.
My professors in college always talked about being a one-man-band for our first TV gig. I didn’t necessarily think this would happen to me, but then I found myself in Monroe, La. (market 135…yes 1-3-5.) doing everything from shooting, editing, writing, producing and anchoring in a regular day’s work. To this day it still the most challenging job I have ever had, and from an experience standpoint it is one of the most rewarding jobs as well. I would re-watch my newscasts on the weekends and couldn’t believe that I did all of it!
When you go to apply for a job in broadcast, make sure you can do it all. If you want to be on camera, you still have to know how to do each and every piece of putting together a newscast off camera. You have to make yourself versatile. “Do it all” means a lot more now than when I graduated college almost a decade ago because of the ever-expanding world of social media. Learn how to properly use social media and how to communicate to potential employers how this skill could benefit them.
When it comes to working in sports, the same thing is true. You will need to know how everything works from sports information to recruiting to operations. There is the business side of running a team, the social side of communicating with fans and the interaction of staff and players to name a few.
The more you know, the more valuable you will be to a potential employer.
GET AN INTERNSHIP
If you want to make working in the media or sports your career, then you need to have internships on your resume. Experience within both the media and sports industries is vital to getting a professional job post-college. A degree and good grades is great, but they don’t mean everything without working experience.
For media, internships are where you will collect clips for your resume reel (that’s up next!). Also, you will learn the ins and outs of producing content for the news, including writing, stand-ups, editing and so many other things. Getting an internship doesn’t mean you have to move to Los Angeles or New York City to gain the best experience. If you can, go for it! If you can’t, stay local. You will learn the same base of skills, and sometimes you will find you have more responsibilities at smaller stations to produce content. Since I grew up outside of Houston, I had summer internships at FSN – Houston and KPRC, the NBC affiliate in Houston. This way I could live at home.
If you know you want to report on sports, I also suggest hanging out with the news team a time or two during your internship. A lot of entry level new positions require sports people to also work some news shifts. This way you will have experience working in both areas.
In sports, internships are where you will learn what really goes into running a program or team. It takes a lot of people to run a successful sports team, and you will have the opportunity to work in different departments to a.) see how each entity works together and b.) find out what area interests you most.
Resumes are needed to get any job, but a resume reel is definitely unique to broadcast. This needs to be where you highlight what you can do on and off camera, including stand-ups, editing, producing and anchoring. Show it all. When stations are looking at resume reels, they could be looking at hundreds of people to fill one position. Your impression will be made in about the first 30 seconds, and then those watching will decided if they would like to continue watching your reel. Start out with quick clips in a variety of different backgrounds followed by a package that you shot, wrote and edited.
For fun, and because I want this site to be about sharing my experiences in the hopes of helping others, you can watch my first resume reel here. This reel includes clips that are easily a decade old, so it can be slightly embarrassing! But, it’s my first reel and will always be my first!
You can find my current resume reel here. I am in desperate need of a resume reel makeover. While I am not currently looking for a new job, it is always nice to have one updated. Mine right now is from 2012, so I think this needs to be a priority for me this summer.
You never know when you will meet a person that could help connect you with an opportunity down the road. If you hear of an opportunity to work on something that is in your career field, volunteer to do it. Sometimes these instances could be paid (cha-ching!) and sometimes they could be for free, but still do it. It is all experience you can use for your resume and sometimes even possibly for your reel.
I volunteered as a runner with CBS Sports when they would come to Baton Rouge to put on the SEC football game of the week. I gave up my beloved gamedays and tailgating to work, and that was ultimately the right decision. They continued to employ me after I graduated college while I was looking for a job. I also randomly volunteered with IMG Sports do some work for the University of Houston and ended producing and reporting some on-camera work for one of their shows.
Take every opportunity you can. Even if it ends up not being what you might have expected, make the most out of it.
I think I have one more list of tips to go after this one. If there is anything specific you have questions about or think something should be added, please let me know! I would love to start a conversation about this. And, since I did graduate college almost 10 years ago, I know looking for a job has definitely changed, so I would love to know how I can help in that regard!