By Chasity Brown - Lecturer, Health Science Department & Internship Coordinator at Lincoln University and Advisory Board Vice Chair at Living Sport
Internships are a crucial part of gaining the real-life experience that you will need to secure a career in sport. Internships allow students to apply the knowledge gained in the classroom to increase their skillset and help build a stronger foundation of understanding. It provides hands-on experience, builds the resume, and provides an opportunity to grow professionally. So, one might ask the question “How do I find that first internship”? Here are a few tips that might help you.
1. Start early. Many students wait until their junior and senior years to begin looking for internship opportunities. Internship experiences are invaluable so why not give yourself the opportunity to do more than one. Securing an internship during the summer prior to going into your sophomore year could be beneficial to help give you a better understanding of your career path of choice. Starting and allowing yourself the opportunity to intern early will only increase your chances of gaining multiple internship experiences throughout your college career. If you are unable to secure an internship early in your college career, you might want to consider volunteering to help gain connections for the future.
2. Utilize your resources. All colleges and universities have career services, and some may have internship coordinators. Be sure to familiarize yourself with these resources as they may have helpful connections. Don’t be afraid to talk to your professors, they may have worked in the industry prior to being in academia and have colleagues that currently work in the industry that they can introduce you to.
3. Networking. Be sure to attend on-campus and off-campus events such as: career fairs, lectures, information sessions, and professional seminars. If your major has a club - i.e., sport management club - be sure to join and be an active member as this can give you an opportunity to meet current professionals in the industry. When presented with an opportunity to talk one on one with individuals be sure to introduce yourself and greet them with a firm handshake. Also, don’t forget to ask for a business card.
4. Keep an open mind. Most college students seeking to work in sport have big dreams and aspirations to work only in the Big 4 - the NFL, MLB, NBA or NHL. However, there are many opportunities in sport that go overlooked because they may not seem as prestigious jobs. When working for smaller professional sports teams, minor league teams, non-profits, recreation, and/or intramural sports, you are often exposed to various levels of responsibility that will naturally increase your skillset for the future.
5. Social media. Be sure to have a professional social media presence. If you do not have a LinkedIn account that is where you need to start. When creating your professional social media pages be sure to have a professional picture, updated interests and experiences, and goals. Once your page is established be sure to connect with your professors, professionals in the sport industry, and organizations that you may be interested in.
Many employers use social media channels such as LinkedIn, Athlete Network, etc. to search for potential candidates to fill their internship opportunities.
Although social media can be a great resource it can also be a detriment. Be sure to review your Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat and other accounts prior to applying for internships as employers often go to these sites to learn about you. Having inappropriate content on your personal pages may create negative assumptions about your character.
Today’s job market has become increasingly competitive. Many companies are looking for student’s that not only have the technical skills but soft skills as well. These soft skills include being able to communicate, work in a team, being flexible, being able to critically think and solve problems, as well as displaying strong leadership characteristics. Being an average student or an average intern is not going to get you the job you are longing for. Meeting expectations is average, go in there and exceed expectations. Obtaining an impactful internship and excelling at it will set you apart and increase your chances of obtaining a full-time position in sport.