How to get an internship in sports management?

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Caleb from the University of West Florida asks:

I am graduating next fall with a Sports Management degree and need an internship to do so. I have my resume and cover letter done, along with my bio. I just need some direction on what to do next. Thanks!

Thanks for your question, Caleb! You’re not alone.

Many students face the task of securing and completing an internship for credit to fulfill graduation requirements. Let’s treat this like a typical workout:

SportsIlovesportsWarm Up

You mention that your resume is complete. Just to be sure, have someone at your school’s career services office critique it. It would also be a good idea to ask some of your Sports Management class professors to give it the once-over. Find professors with more recent industry experience, as they’ll be most likely to know what employers are looking for.

You also mention your cover letter is done. Whoa – hold up! While you can have a template for a cover letter to work from, you can’t use the same cover letter to apply for each internship. You’ll want to customize each cover letter, not only in the most obvious way (putting the hiring manager’s name and title on it) but also in less obvious ways… like referencing specific skills and qualifications mentioned in the internship posting, relating your own experience and convincing them you’re the best choice for the position. There are plenty of great cover letter resources out there – some are gathered here.

About your bio… do you mean LinkedIn profile? LinkedIn is a great place to connect with alums and employers in sports management. “Follow” companies to see their latest openings and industry-specific discussions and “LinkIn” with alums (again, your career services office can help).

While we’re on the topic of application materials, make sure you have your professional references ready to go. This doesn’t mean having a few people in mind. It means having already gotten their permission, and having a nice, clean reference sheet ready to hand to employers after an interview, if asked. You should have three references, including name, title, company, contact information (email and phone number) and even a bullet point about how you know the person/what you’ve worked on together. Including that information does the interviewer a big favor. They now have a starting point for conversation when checking your references, and that certainly can’t hurt!

Workout

As for searching for your internship, your career services office can help. Think close to home – does your school’s athletics department host interns? Are there other local teams, agents or management companies that do what you want to do? Also think nationally – there are many websites devoted to sports internships, but WorkInSports.com is widely considered to be the leader. You can search for internships in several job titles and cities.

Apply! Apply! Apply! Block out, say, a half hour a day to apply for every new internship you like. Don’t eliminate yourself from the position by not applying. Be aware of deadlines. Follow up. Don’t despair if you don’t hear back right away. Just keep applying.

Cool Down

Now, some forward-thinking thoughts about your future. Sports is a highly-competitive world, and sports management is no different. Which area of sports are you most attracted to? Managing players or teams or facilities? Delving into ethical or legal issues surrounding sports? Something else? Consider super-charging your education with something like a Business of Sports certificate. These types of intensive educational experiences can help you narrow your focus, and they also typically connect you with industry leaders by hosting class speakers, taking students on facility tours, etc.

Best of luck in your internship search!


About the Author

Christine Mahoney

Coach Christine Mahoney is the Internship & Career Coordinator at the University of Colorado Boulder’s new College of Media, Communication and Information (formerly the Journalism & Mass Communication program). Christine is a certified Global Career Development Facilitator and member of the National Society of Experiential Education. Prior to finding her calling helping students connect with employers and launch their careers, Christine taught broadcast journalism courses at CU Boulder for nine years. She is a former award-winning television news anchor/reporter, where she worked in markets including Denver, Sacramento, Las Vegas and Michigan.

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