SportsBusiness Journal this week profiles the members of its 2014 class of Forty Under 40. In addition to sharing with you their individual stories, we’re presenting here collectively some of their responses to questions we asked them during their interviews.
Today, we present their answers to the following question:
What advice would you give to students who are hoping to work in the sports industry?
Renie Anderson: Everyone’s a sports fan, so the key is to specialize in a core competency; then you can take that skill set and apply it to sports. I could do my job anywhere, but I’m lucky enough to get to do it at the National Football League.
Nate Appleman: This industry loves hard workers. Maybe that isn’t much different from other sectors, but I know if you come to the table with a solid work ethic you will be successful.
Bess Barnes: Be the kind of person that people want to help.
Jessica Berman: Be diligent yet respectful of people’s time; always put your best foot forward.
Amy Brooks: Be intellectually curious, sell like a champ, and learn how to model in Microsoft Excel.
Jeremy Carey: Loving sports is not the same as understanding the business of sports.
Ethan Casson: You must be passionate, you must be willing to work hard, and you must be respectful of everyone along the way.
Kelly Cheeseman: Don’t pigeon-hole yourself in your early career. This business can take you many directions. To grow a career, you have to be open to many avenues. Get in, work hard, be patient and be a team player. You will grow.
Justin Connolly: Just get your foot in the door.
Eric Conrad: You might not be the smartest person in the room, and you won’t be the most experienced, but you can be the most prepared.
Rick Cordella: Just find a way in and don’t worry about the initial job, title or pay.
Jim DeLorenzo: Keep working hard. There are no handouts in the sports industry.
Dave Finocchio: Make yourself an honest-to-God expert about something related to the industry (other than league, team and player news). Lots of people want these jobs; you have to really want it to get in the door.
Jessica Gelman: Identify teams and leagues undergoing significant change (e.g., new stadium), then figure out how you can add value and have impact. That, and attending the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics conference.
Jonathan Gibson: It ties to a quote I once heard and is really relevant to any industry: “You live up (or down) to your expectations.” Expect greatness.
Alison Giordano: Don’t get set on a single path; there are different ways to get to your goal.
David Greenspan: Students often stress that they are big sports fans, but that’s not a résumé enhancer. Like all other law practices, we’re looking for great minds and great communicators and great people. It just so happens that many of our clients make their living in the business of sports.
Kirsten Hunt: Network. Opportunities don’t just happen; they are attached to people. Don’t look for opportunities; look for people.
Tucker Kain: Focus on what portion of the sports business you are really passionate about. Caring about sports is not enough. Learn the business, understand what goes into it, and work on developing skills that are most relevant to that area.
Joe Karlgaard: Lots of people go to conferences to walk the floor; find a different and more personal way to make connections, even if that happens on your own dime.
Ed Kiernan: You can never start looking for an internship early enough. Get your foot in the door, network like crazy, and work your butt off. Also, be willing to relocate wherever the opportunity presents itself — nationwide.
Chris Klein: Find something that you are passionate about, make sure to work hard, don’t cut corners, and remain true to yourself.
Josh Kroenke: The industry is highly competitive on and off the playing field. No matter what your first opportunity is in the industry, attack it with everything you’ve got and good things will happen. Also, don’t be afraid of what you don’t know.
Damani Leech: Read, work hard and don’t presume to know which part of the industry in which you can find happiness.
Andrew Lustgarten: Learn a skill set and not just “sports.” Analysis, sales and marketing are always valuable. Once you have that skill, apply it to sports.
Rod Moskowitz: Start at a very young age. That helped me find success, as it takes time to build a network and reputation.
Ahmad Nassar: Focus on developing a strong skill set, whether that comes in sports or not. Know that your first job is unlikely to be your dream job, and that’s OK. Just don’t let the detour become your road.
Will Pleasants: Get exposure to as many different sides of the industry as possible. At that age, you usually don’t know what you don’t know; you need to find that out.
Brian Schulz: Keep an open mind. Opportunity has an interesting way of rearing its head, so if you can, keep your mind open to different possibilities. You might think you want to enter this industry in a certain manner by taking steps that you have predetermined in your head, but open yourself to the fact that it may not happen that way, that it may happen a different way. Don’t be so closed to those moments when they come up; recognize them.
Donte Scott: Work hard, learn unique skills and stay positive.
Emmanuel Seuge: It’s one of the most dynamic industries to join now. The sports business as a whole is going to embrace the change happening in our lives — social, digital, and new ways to consume content — in the future. There’s a ton of innovation coming. It’s a great industry to join now, but you have to remember the history of it.
John Shea: Get as big a name company on your résumé as you can and start in an area you have a passion for.
Jared Smith: In this business, you’ve got to be willing to take an opportunity when it comes and jump on it. There are 10 people willing to do every job there is. You’ve got to be able to jump in and be willing to try. Find a way in, and you’ll find a way to get into the lane you want to get into if you’re skilled and qualified and trained.
Henry Stafford: Figure out what you really love to do, and find a job in that space. You need to love what you do to be great.
Josh Swartz: Network like crazy.
Lowell Taub: The people around you will take note if you work hard and work smart. They will also take note if you don’t.
Igor Ulis: It’s no secret that this industry is tough to get into. The way in is to prove you’re willing to do whatever it takes to succeed and to be vocal about that. We are big on promoting from within and have had very smart, highly educated people start at entry level jobs and work their way up. It gives us a chance to see them in action and has worked really well.
Araceli Villegas: Hard work, dedication.
Pete Vlastelica: Do something on your own initiative that’s designed to get the industry’s attention. Start a blog, a meet up, or a company. Understand that it’s always better to show than to tell.
Chris Wujcik: Enjoy what you are doing, where you are doing it, and the people you are doing it with.