Guidelines to a Successful Internship

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Internships are crucial for success in the sports industry. Photo via Writm

This post is part of the #YPSportsChat Blog Series! This series will give young professionals an inside look at the intricacies of the sports business world and advice on how to navigate it.

By: Kraig Doremus, @Kraig_Doremus

Regardless of your major or intended career path, it’s no question that an internship will give you a chance to get your foot in the door, gain contacts, and prove yourself. In my opinion (and some will disagree) internships are almost necessary if you want to a land a job in sports, whether high school, college, or professional. I learned this after applying for a job in college athletics. One of my mentors called on my behalf, and the lady in charge of the department said she would take a look at my application. While it was of good quality, she told me, “You just don’t have enough experience. You need to do an internship or two.” So, if you want to work in sports, consider doing an internship. Here are some tips on finding the right one, landing it, and thriving within the organization.

Do Your Research

This point is almost self-explanatory. When applying for any position it’s important to conduct thorough research on the organization and the individuals interviewing you. Find out basic facts about the person you’ll interview with. How long have they been there? What is their position? Have they held any other positions within the same organization? Take it a step further than professional credentials. When looking at their bio on organization’s website or LinkedIn, find out about their personal interests. Where did they grow up? What did they study in school? Talking about their personal life will take the conversation further and open up talking points.

It’s also important to find out about the organization. This can be done through research and also asking questions. If possible, try to walk around and talk to other employees. Find out what they do. How long have they been working with the company? Do they enjoy their job? What are the pros and cons associated with working at the organization?

Finally, don’t just take an internship to take one. In August of 2015 I interviewed for an athletic communications internship. I told a family member, “If they offer me, I’m going to take it.” Good thing they did not offer me a position. The school simply was not a good fit and would not have given me any opportunities beyond the January to May internship.

Your Resume

I can talk from personal experience about resumes. I designed my first resume in Microsoft Word during my freshman year in college. It was one page and listed everything you’d expected to see on a resume: contact info, skills, and experience. I kept a one page resume for two years, but as a junior somehow, someway my resume became two and a half pages. Heck, I’m surprised it didn’t include the type of car I drove and my dog’s names and ages. Simply put, it’s important that as a young professional your resume is not overly long. Last year, I received an email from our career services department that was a PowerPoint entitled “Congratulations Graduate: Eleven Reasons I Will Never Hire You. Reason one: “Your resume is longer than a 25-year professional.” Needless to say, I cut mine down to exactly one page. I’m now a firm believer that a resume should be only one page, at least early in your career.

Also, I would highly suggest making your resume stand out. Make it different than black and white. Do something with it that will make a hiring manager want to look at it. Adobe InDesign is a great software for creating a resume. If you’re reading this and want additional resources, I can recommend a website with several templates. Finally, don’t forget to proofread.

Thank You Emails (Or Notes)

After you interview, be sure to send a follow up email thanking the person who interviewed you. An email is fine, because you want to get it out quickly (within 24 hours) but if you can write a hand-written note, do it. Use the note not only to thank the interviewer but also to reaffirm your interest in the position, as well as your qualifications.

So, let’s say you landed an internship. Here are some pointers to make the most of it.

Extend Your Network

Introduce yourself to as many people as possible. Be willing to help them and they’ll be willing to help you. If possible, give them a business card, your email, or even a cell phone number. After the meeting, follow up with them and send them a note that it was nice to meet them. You never know when you’ll see them again and how they might help you.

Be Invaluable

If you’re reading this article, this is the one point I want to hammer home. Regardless of what you do, go above and beyond. Be willing to do anything and do not ask people to do something that you wouldn’t do. I first heard the be invaluable term as a senior in high school when I was on a college visit. A professor (who would become one of my favorite professors in my major) gave a presentation and talked about how to be invaluable, yet I didn’t grasp the concept until years later.

Regardless of your profession, do whatever you can to help the organization excel. Let’s say you work in athletics, specifically event management. Don’t just show up to set up and tear down the facility after the event. Help to make sure that volunteers are organized. If there are staff shortages, volunteer to keep stats at the table or film the event. If you don’t have much to do in the office, ask coaches and other staff members what you can do to help them. You might find yourself entering CARA logs for your compliance officer or updating the record books for a sport. In short, go above and beyond (and even outside your job description) to make yourself invaluable. It will lead to great things.