If you are a big sports fan and love athletic events, sports management could be the right career for you. The best first step to getting into sports management is to earn your degree and apply for an internship in a position related to the career of your dreams.
Patrick Leary, ED.D., Johnson & Wales University department chair and associate professor of Sports, Entertainment, Event - Management programs said, “Undoubtedly, an internship or the requisite field experience is now a ‘must have’ versus a ‘nice to have’ for any graduate looking to break into the sports industry.”
Benefits of a Sports Management Internship
Internships are one of the best opportunities you will have to consider specific careers in your field of study. When it comes to sports management, there are a number of positions that will have various day-to-day job requirements. A student pursuing a sports management degree will be able to have real-world experience through a sports management internship.
According to NACE Job Outlook, prospective employers are looking for candidates that have work experience: 91% of respondents said they look for work experience in their applicants, with more than half of employers (65%) wanting the work experience to be relevant to the job opening.
It can be difficult to get a job without having past experience. Internships offer a great way to get started in the field. Leary said that there are additional benefits, as well. “Internships not only aid students in gaining invaluable experience in the field, but also offer an opportunity for students to cultivate relationships that will ultimately aid them in their career progression. Furthermore, the sports industry is one with great depth and breadth. As a result, internships can assist students in honing their perspective on the segment of sports (professional, intercollegiate, amateur) they want to work in as well as the job function that best suits their passion and skill set.”
Applying for an Internship in Sports Management
Students from any background are able to apply for internships to increase their professional experience. An internship will give them a solid line on their resume and a reference for upcoming jobs. They will be able to experience the job firsthand and make connections within the field.
Students often work through their school to find connections with internships. Most internship programs are not posted publicly, so students need to have connections to find them (usually through the school or by reaching out to specific organizations). Most of the time, those internships are only available to college students or recent graduates.
Occasionally, the internship offers the potential to move into a full-time position — though this is not a common practice in the majority of sports internship positions. These internships may or may not be paid. If they are paid, it is usually a very small stipend. “Students must keep in mind the competitive nature of such an exciting industry may require them to make small sacrifices (an unpaid internship experience) for long-term gain,” Leary advised.
Sports Management Internships
There are a range of job opportunities in the sports world for those with sports management degrees. This degree offers an exciting, competitive career for those that enjoy athletics. Here are 5 internship opportunities for students working toward this degree:
Sports Marketing Internship
Getting fans to support a team takes more than just talent on the field or court. A sports marketing professional knows how to brand the team in a way that increases team spirit, boosts fan loyalty and grows ticket sales. Strategies to increase team awareness and promotions to build interest are a key part of a sports marketing manager’s job. As an intern, tasks might include making copies, data entry, and helping run promotions. You could be in charge of anything from stuffing envelopes to writing blog posts to taking pictures for social media accounts. This internship could also be an excellent opportunity to get your foot in the door to sports journalism or public relations.
Guest Relations Internship
Keeping fans happy is a key part of most sports programs. A job in guest relations will require a skillful understanding of working with customers. Most successful guest relations professionals know how to juggle multiple issues, handling the pressure of game day like a pro. From working with club-level patrons and VIP guests to small-time fans that got ripped off by scalpers, there are a lot of complex job requirements for the higher ranks of guest relations staff. As an intern, you will often be required to wear many hats as you help to improve the experience of high-level guests and learn the ropes for how to keep guests happy.
Facilities and Operations Internship
The professionals in charge of the day-to-day running of the sports facility keep things ready to go at all times. They are in charge of organizing the teams that keep the facilities in top shape and might be responsible for hiring umpires, event officials, security and refs. They likely will have a certain level of responsibility in regards to event ticket sales and training staff. Interns will likely do many odd jobs throughout the facility to help keep things on track. This could include moving equipment, running cleaning machines and prepping for events. Interns might be in charge of accommodating teams or officials during events. They may help with training sessions to prepare other employees responsible for facility upkeep.
Athletic Administrator Internship
Within every school athletic department, administrators oversee sports teams. Athletic administrators are in charge of keeping athletes on track, both athletically and academically as a whole. They typically plan, coordinate and evaluate the athletic programs at the school. They might have a hand in hiring or firing coaches, though this often comes down to a board decision. They help navigate the job responsibilities of the AD (athletic director), coaches, teachers (or professors) and parents that may be involved in making decisions that impact the sports teams for the school. Interns might help with budget reports, data entry and other small jobs to assist the athletic administrator. They will learn how to navigate the complex school dynamic to make decisions that are good for the school as a whole.
Game Day or Event Coordinator Internship
When the big events occur, someone needs to be in charge of the overarching schedule to ensure a smooth transition. An events coordinator may be in charge of all non-athletic events or they may have responsibilities on game day as well. Different facilities will have different expectations and may require more than one coordinator to run various events held in the facilities. The game day or event coordinator will typically help sell the venue to interested parties and book events to keep the facilities in use as much as possible. They are in charge of working with advertisers or donors who help fund the facilities. An intern will help research potential advertisers or donors. They might be in charge of getting the schedule of events into the right hands, passing out event materials and more.
Preparing for a Successful Career in Sports Management
It takes an uphill climb to prove qualifications for an operations manager position—especially for any top sports management jobs for professional sports teams. Getting a sports management degree and a summer internship will help you get off to a strong start for a successful career.
If you’re interested in a career in sports, learn more about earning a bachelor’s degree in sports, entertainment and event management, a master’s degree in sport leadership, or an MBA in sport leadership. For more information, complete the Request Info form, call 855-JWU-1881, or email [email protected].