An Internship Model for Sports Sales, Marketing, CRM & Analytics

An Internship Model for Sports Sales, Marketing, CRM & Analytics
by Kirk Wakefield – January 2017

After arranging & supervising hundreds of sports internships for the last dozen or so years, Dr. Darryl Lehnus and I devised a system that works well for us.

Ideally, partners provide the internship with the same objective of developing and evaluating talent in view of future employment there or elsewhere. Our partners see intern successes as their successes, as it reflects on their abilities to train, motivate, and model excellent performance.

Among others, the Pittsburgh Pirates B.U.C.S Academy and the New York Mets are ahead of the game in organizing internships and recruiting to careers. While many teams and companies provide summer internships, the Houston Texans (sponsorships) and Houston Astros (CRM) provide 9-12 month postgraduate internships specifically for our graduates to gain more in-depth training before launching careers.

Our best-in-class partnerships do five things:

  1. Budget for internships.
  2. Show up every year to interview.
  3. Provide awards or incentives. (Examples: See StubHub & MLBAM.)
  4. Serve as mentors.
  5. Initiate follow-up with interviews to (a) hire or (b) refer for hiring.

Five Not-So-Easy Steps

From a process standpoint, partners follow these five steps. We’ll explain each in turn.

  1. Prepare students for careers.
  2. Determine parameters & responsibilities.
  3. Define, communicate and evaluate on criteria that predict success.
  4. Hold students responsible.
  5. Review insights & follow-through with students.

Prepare students for careers

Ask employers what they want. Continue to ask.

Too many prepare students for sports marketing or sports management jobs. The only problem is no entry level positions exist for “sports marketer” or “sports manager.” Entry level positions do exist in ticket sales, sponsorship sales & service/fulfillment, CRM, and analytics. Design coursework and programs accordingly.

Business schools have courses in professional selling, database management, statistics and predictive modeling, and data visualization (Excel, Tableau, etc.). Take advantage of these courses in planning curriculum requirements. When employers see you take them seriously, they’ll line up for your students.

Determine Parameters & Responsibilities

Once employers agree, we send them a link to an online form to identify the supervisor, time frame (start, finish, hours per week, pay or course credit), and responsibilities. Most likely you’ve already discussed this, but best to not be surprised at the end of the term that the internship didn’t include a vital part of what they needed to experience.

After selecting the type of internship, the employer completes the appropriate section for what the intern will do. Our forms are below.

Define, communicate and evaluate criteria for success

Every year the National Association of Colleges & Employers (NACE) publish a list of attributes most desired of new hires. These could differ among some, but odds are they are the same. With a little adaptation, we use these for midterm and final evaluations by the intern’s direct supervisor.

Responses on the primary criteria (below) are shared with the intern in a meeting with the academic advisor. We also ask about punctuality, attitude, performance, and overall grade from the direct supervisor of the internship at the employer. The entire form may be downloaded here.

Sports Internship Evaluation Criteria

Specific to our own preparation and values, we ask students to be 2nd milers. When asked to do something (walk a mile), go above and beyond expectations (go the second mile). Supervisors rate the intern accordingly (below).

Hold students responsible

Students should perform well in the internship. We expect that.

We also expect them to reflect on what they learn. Keeping a daily or weekly journal is recommended.At the end of the term, students must submit the S3 Internship Report Form (click to download) regarding a weekly log of hours, assignments, volunteering, accomplishments, application of class material, issues (problems or challenges & resolutions), culture, behavioral adaptation, recommendations, and net promoter score rating for the internship.

Review insights & follow-through with students

Meet with each student to get his or her take on the evaluation provided in Step 3. Usually there are no surprises. Employers do a good job of picking up on areas for improvement that you’ve likely noticed in class. So, it’s nice to have someone else see it and say it.

Generally, these are great times to encourage students in careers. On occasion, you can use these to give appropriate kicks in the pants. We’ve seen these have fairly drastic effects on capable students who needed to get with the program. On occasion, you find some who need to find another program. The wide world of sports, perhaps the same as other industries (but we think more so),demands a high level of commitment. We help students by holding them to a high standard.

Conclusion

Providing good internship experiences takes effort on the part of the academic advisor, student, and employer. But, working together, internships are the foundation for successful careers. No class, book or assignment can substitute for on-the-job reality training.

The very best part of what we do is to see students succeed in their careers.

Feel free to borrow, steal, or adapt any or all of the attached materials! If you’ve found other things that work well, please let us know!

Can social media make or break interview chances?

Can social media make or break interview chances?
by Jeannette Salas – April 2013

Social Media, Networking, Common 1st Year Mistakes, and Tips for Success

Social media shows up in the most unusual places

Employers frequently search candidates on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Linked In, and blogs to see what they find.  Maybe they find a cute picture of your dog (Griffie, above). Or maybe other things not so cute.

Some employers may say, “What you do outside of the organization is your own business.” But, at the end of the day, employers want great company representation 24/7/365.

The best way to find out what potential employers can see is to Google yourself.  How can you manage your social media and use it to your advantage? Don’t publish anything in social media you wouldn’t want your mother (or next employer) to read or see.

While running a minor league sports team, a few arena employees were tweeting opinions on our low attendance one night. Once received on others’ feeds, tweets can’t be erased. Their comments were out there for the world to see, including their boss (me), our fans and customers and most importantly, any future employers of theirs. These young employees underestimated the power of social media, almost lost their jobs and could have damaged chances for employment elsewhere.

Social media is the new extension of your resume.

In what is an already difficult job market, employers use social media to eliminate candidates, even those with great resumes. As a hiring manager, once I found candidates I wanted to interview, I first looked them up in four places: Google, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn (images included). If anything at all gave me the sense they were unprofessional or wouldn’t represent our company well, they were eliminated immediately. While it’s cool to post fun pictures from your last vacation with your friends, think about who might see those pictures and how they may be construed.

Managing Social Media

  1. Make sure your profile picture is appropriate.  Microsoft Outlook pulls up your social media profile picture whenever an email is received directly from you.  Not sure a keg stand (or any other “party” picture) would get you in for an interview.    THINK PROFESSIONAL!
  2. Beware of content in personal blogs!  Everyone is subject to their own opinions BUT negative and/or inaccurate content can come back to haunt you. (See cancel culture circa 2021.)
  3. Social media outlets allow you to reach millions of people in seconds.  Use it to your advantage when searching for jobs/internships.  Let friends and family members know you are looking for a position.

Networking

When it comes to sports business careers, networking is king. Like everything else in life, it always comes down to relationships.

  1. Stay in touch. When you make a contact keep in touch. Forward your resume immediately after contact.  Make contact at least every 6 months and after career achievements like graduation, obtaining a certificate [e.g., HR Cert, Sales Cert, etc], or an award.
  2. Join professional organizations and relevant social media networking sites and groups on LinkedIn like the S3 Report,  Ticket Sales & Technology, or Ticket Sales Best Practices.
    • Make sure your LinkedIn profile is complete and professional in appearance.
    • These are great ways to connect with professionals that may be able to help you on your career path and offer insight, as well as search for positions.
    • Some groups and individuals frequently post open positions. Follow them.

Common First Year Mistakes

Mistakes entry-level employees tend to make during the first year of employment:

  1. Lack of communication: Afraid to ask questions or for help; don’t call in when out sick; no notification of being late.
  2. Staying out of spotlight: Make an IMPACT within the organization; get involved in committees, events, etc.; EVERYONE should know who you are or at least heard of you.
  3. Poor networking: Get to know employees in other departments.  This isn’t high school – don’t fall into a clique.  Attend all company events – GREAT networking opportunity!
  4. Not leading:  Don’t be scared to pitch ideas/take lead on projects. You bring a fresh thought process to the table – voice your ideas!  Volunteer to take the lead on a project to develop leadership and project management skills.
  5. Complaining: DO NOT complain. PERIOD!  Complaining is:
    1. unprofessional,
    2. unattractive, and
    3. unpromotable. People will not want to work with you or consider you for other positions within the organization. They will think of positions for you outside the organization.
  6. Inflexibility:  Adapting to change is important. Business can change at the drop of a hat.  Be open to new ways of completing tasks or approaching scenarios.  Flexibility helps you grow with and within an organization and seamlessly transition into another one.

 Tips for Success

  1. Continue learning. Stay abreast with the latest in your field.  Attend training, seminars, conferences, and certificate programs.
  2. Ask for help. Not sure? Ask for clarification and guidance. Then you’ll be able to help others who don’t know.
  3. Ask for feedback. Feedback lets you know how you are doing and where you are lacking.  This is essential for professional growth and development.
  4. Communicate. Make sure lines of communication are always clear and open.
  5. Create Raving Fans. A customer service based fundamental: All co-workers should enjoy working with you because your product is top quality and you are great to work with.  If people like working with you they are more willing to help and listen to you.
  6. Read self-help books. Start with How to Win Friends and Influence Others and Emotional Intelligence.  These are great books to help you continue growing both personally and professionally.
  7. Look to the future. Keep moving forward. Plan your career and move towards your ultimate goal.

Reinforcement from the Houston Astrosastros

I agree with all Jeannette points out. Two related thoughts to share:

Don’t underestimate the importance of a resume-appropriate email address. Stick with the traditional last name, first name (or some version of name). This format is simple and it works. An unprofessional address can mean the difference in a team contacting you regarding a job or passing you over for lack of professionalism.

In the interview, be sure to follow the lead of your interviewer. When you are informed at the beginning of the interview that this is going to be a quick phone screen (e.g., 10 minutes on Handshake), stick within that time frame. Everyone’s time is valuable. Sometimes you only have a short time span to sell yourself…PRACTICE THAT SKILL. It proves you can be clear, succinct and respectful of other people’s time. Consider it to be an extended elevator speech.

PS: That said, you need a 30-second elevator speech and a USP of eight words or less about who you are. Read m0re about branding you in our next article here.

~Jennifer Springs, HR, Houston Astros

 

 

 

 

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