You Got the Job in Sports; Now What?

About Justin Pipes

Justin Pipes is a graduate of Baylor University ('14) with degrees in Sports Sponsorship & Sales (S3) and Finance. Justin has experience working at the NBA and Baylor IMG. Justin is currently working for the Memphis Grizzlies in their Corporate Partnerships department as a coordinator of activation.

You graduated from college. Networked with all the right people. Beat out thousands of other candidates. You landed a job in sports!

Now what?

With all of the articles out there about what to do to get a job in sports, I thought it would be helpful to share some of the things I have learned in my first year of working in sports full-time.

Out of college, but not out of class

harry truman“Not all readers are leaders, but all leaders are readers.”~Harry Truman
College is just the beginning of the true learning journey. You’re still in class, being evaluated compared to your peers. You just may not realize it. If you are content with just being in sports, no need to read any further. But, if you are interested in management and eventual executive leadership, learning will help separate yourself from your peers. Typical resources (SBJ or IEG’s Sponsorship.com) help you stay up-to-date on sportsbiz news. Pick up the local business journal. Read a leadership or sales philosophy book. Learning about the local community and improving your sales and leadership skills will separate you from the rest of the class.

Group projects aren’t over

Whether on an inside sales team, interning in corporate partnerships or working in another department at a sports property, collaboration and working together are critical. Remember those peer evaluations? They’re even more important here, because if you play well with others, you get to stay in the game. But, if not, you may be looking for another team soon. I interact with other departments to get partner activation plans executed. Our plans for new initiatives will affect multiple departments.  As a student-fan, I had no idea how much teamwork went into executing partnership plans, but suffice it to say you must be able to perform effectively in a team.

Dress for success

dwddRemember all of those times you dressed up for career fairs or special speakers in class? You wanted to make a great first impression. You wanted to communicate your professional approach to whatever opportunity might become available. If you came in t-shirt and shorts, trust me, they noticed. That’s a tough first take to overcome. Professional dress is still important. You want to impress upon new co-workers, supervisors, clients, and prospects that you mean business. Studies from the Harvard Business Review show that dressing well is associated with success. They advise you don’t have to buy the most expensive clothes, but that a switch from Dwight Schrute (The Office – my favorite TV show ever) to Don Draper (Mad Men) might be in order.

Be willing to ask for advice

We can’t make it in this business without some help from others who have been there and done that. With only a year under my belt, I found it fitting to ask some other industry professionals what newly minted sports business professionals should do to be successful.

Go the extra mile!

Eric Sudol, Vice President, Corporate Partnership Sales & Marketing with the Dallas Cowboys, offers this great advice:

“One of the most important keys to success for a recent college graduate in the sports industry (and arguably any industry) is to be willing to do anything.  This means not being above any job to garner a foot in the door, going the extra mile to assist wherever, and maintaining an exceptional and humble attitude.”

Don’t be afraid to ask questions!

wesWesley Streitenberger, Manager, Affinity Sales at FC Dallas, shares that to learn you have to ask questions:

“The two things I think that can really help a recent college grad in any industry would be (1) Not being afraid to ask questions and (2) Realizing that the best way to learn is from experience.  The more you do and the more you ask, then the more knowledge and experience you gain, and will continue to!”

What about you?

We haven’t covered everything you need to do after you get the job, for sure. We’d love to hear more from you. What advice would you give to someone that just got a job in the business of sports?

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