Get your foot in the door

 Posted on: November 28 2016

When an acquaintance finds out that you work in the sports industry, there’s a very good chance that his or her first reaction is, “Wow, that’s so cool.” Those of us in sports know that yes, it’s cool, but it’s also a lot of hard work. And it’s not all that easy to break into the business and find the job that you want.

You probably talk with school groups or hear from aspiring sports professionals who might drop you an email to ask, “I’d like to do what you’re doing. How do I get in the sports business?”

Well, we know that there are probably as many ways to get into the business as there are jobs. But recently Kathryn Smith, the first full-time female coach on an NFL team (Buffalo Bills), talked with writer Lyndsey D’Arcangelo about how she got into the NFL, and her advice for others who want to get into the sports business. Among other things, Smith said, “Get in where you can, and do what you can to the best of your ability. Work hard and be persistent, but also be patient because it’s not going to happen overnight.

“I know I keep saying this, and it sounds cliché, but it’s important: If you do the best job, that’s what’s going to help you advance,” she said. It’s all about who’s doing a better job, because ultimately teams just want to win.”

Smith also talked about getting as much experience as possible, whether it’s internships or volunteering or, in her case, going through the college football ranks. “Really, at any level, if it’s going to get you more experience and get your foot in the door, it’s definitely worth it.

“For me, I’ll always look at each opportunity as it comes up and see what makes the most sense, and what would be the best fit.”

While she’s talking about football, Smith offers good advice for anyone starting in the sports profession and it’s a good reminder for those who have been working in sports for some time. Experience is invaluable—so is hard work. And no, it’s not 9 to 5, Monday through Friday. It’s a profession that’s not for everyone, but for those who choose it, the rewards can be priceless.


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