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Tips for working in sports

Maclaine Chadwick | Sports Editor

I SOMETIMES WONDER how many university students are pursuing the education or career that they dreamt about as a child. How many little kids say “I want to have a women’s studies degree” or “I want work for the department of finance”? People change as they grow up, and their career paths change along with them.

I hadn’t considered working in the sports industry until my second year at the University of Ottawa, but now—much to the dismay of my stability-oriented grandparents—it’s all I can think about.

I’m a strong believer that your working experience is as important as your GPA, but for anyone trying to get their foot in the door of one of the most competitive industries out there, I feel your pain. It can be difficult, especially in a city like Ottawa, which is saturated with government employment.

But here we are, finishing degrees in programs that don’t really guarantee us jobs anywhere—let alone the ones that we might have desired as kids. If you want to work in the sports industry, you’re going to need more than a degree. Take advantage of the opportunities that are here in Ottawa or nearby while you still can. As students, we have lots of opportunities exclusive to us that can beef up our resumé and help us network.

Start at the bottom: Don’t expect your dream job to be handed to you. If you haven’t started yet, you’re going to have to pay your dues. Better do that now while you have the master status of student or recent grad to excuse the fact that you’re working on commission at the Nike outlet. Even what seems like the smallest job can be a big help—lifeguarding, refereeing, selling tickets at a game…Working hard at jobs like this mean there is nowhere to go but up.

Volunteer: The IN Force volunteer team at Sports Services is a great way to get a little promotional sports experience under your belt, and you don’t even have to leave campus! If coaching is more your thing and you can commit, you can always find a minor league team in the area that needs help, or check out organizations like KidSport Ottawa for opportunities. Of course, if you wanted to take a crack at sports journalism, feel free to write a game review for the Fulcrum. Seriously, any time.

Don’t stop networking: Get out there and mingle! I love LinkedIn, but it can only take you so far. Attend a conference like the one held in Toronto by PrimeTime Sports & Entertainment to hear great speakers and chat with professionals. It’s well worth the trip, and doubles as an educational experience—this is nothing like your philosophy lecture.

Unfortunately for you guys, I’m not about to disclose all of the tricks up my sleeve. But if you’re sharing my struggle and trying to get into the sports industry, give one of my hints a try—you may be surprised how helpful it can be!