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Saturday, June 22, 2024

If You Can Make it in Baseball, You Can Make it Anywhere

Lessons Learned from Working in America’s Pastime

Photo courtesy of tumblr.com

As #OurSeason draws to a close for the Arizona Diamondbacks, there is finally time to reflect upon what I have learned during my internship within the team’s Corporate Partnerships department.

Over the course of 10+ months, I have had the opportunity to be surrounded by many mentors who have helped hone my skills and transition me into a full-time career within this industry.

However, looking back on my internship, the mental lessons that the job imparts have proven to be the most useful tools.

Keeping it Fresh

It’s no surprise that a baseball season can be a grind. The regular season itself lasts around six months. Yet, when you factor in Spring Training and postseason play, the season expands to roughly eight months. Keep in mind, that this is just for the players.

On the business side of things, the “offseason” is primarily spent working on recapping events from the current season while simultaneously planning for the upcoming season. Between pitching to prospective clients and executing activations for each homestand, the days seemingly blend together.

Jeff Campbell, a Senior Account Services Executive in the Diamondbacks’ Corporate Partnerships department, has learned to separate what happens off the field from what happens on the field.

“Early in my career in sports, I adhered to a thought process that has kept me just as passionate today as I was ten years ago. Always remember that you work in sports primarily because you love the business of sports. If you take that approach, you’ll have a much easier time riding the highs and lows of the uncontrollable side of working in sports,” said Campbell.

Whether it’s working the sold-out NL Wild Card game or a run-of-the-mill series in the middle of the summer, it became crucial for me to fall in love with the process that goes on behind the scenes over the course of the season.

It’s a Marathon AND a Sprint

Throughout the season, one must be able to plan ahead for what’s to come. Recaps and proposals that won’t be presented until October usually begin taking shape in February. Some projects may consume months of research and attention to detail. There are 81 home games you are responsible for. Foresight is an absolute necessity in order to stay ahead of upcoming deadlines.

At the same time, you need to be able to switch gears and stay focused with daily tasks at hand. Whether it is hustling to fulfill activations, check with partners to provide hospitality, or interacting with fans, you need to be able to stay in the moment. Once you are in the game, you are in the game. You can’t constantly be focusing on tomorrow’s tasks or what has to get completed by next week. The ability to differentiate between when to think ahead and when to stay in the moment keeps everything in focus and helps to prioritize what is truly important.

Collaborating with Everybody

A baseball organization has a lot of moving parts. There are many different tasks to complete and there are many different people you will need to work with to accomplish those tasks. Preparation for an upcoming homestand may include working with game operations to help facilitate partner sponsored fan contests/sweepstakes, communicating with facilities to ensure partner tabling is set-up correctly, and finalizing photo requests and social media pushes with the communications team.

Over the scope of a season, other departments will be called upon to assist such as marketing (providing promotional values for partner sponsored giveaways), finance (processing invoices and ensuring partner assets are ordered in a timely manner), and community relations (fulfilling partner charity requests/sponsoring different community objectives) among others.

Since you will be working side-by-side with many different personalities, it is important to remember to interact positively with your coworkers as you’ll never know when you will team up with them again in the future. “Remember to always ask yourself, “Is what I am doing good for my reputation, my family’s reputation, and my company’s reputation?”.

“Regardless if you plan to remain with an employer or not, that baggage travels with you in sports. It’s a small community that works in the sports industry and reputation and ethics is crucial,” said Campbell.

You Win Some, You Lose Some

In baseball, a team has just over a 1 in 4 (27%) chance of making the postseason. Compared to other leagues such as the NFL (37.5%) and the NBA (53%), MLB teams face stiffer competition for a chance at the playoffs. While I was fortunate to intern during a season where the team made a thrilling post-season run, it is an opportunity that should not be taken for granted.

Many in the sports industry may go their entire career without ever working for an organization involved in the championship picture. It is important to not let the wins and losses impact your personal outlook.

As Campbell puts it, “The earlier in your career that you can embrace the fact that you need to be able to perform at a high level with or without help from the team winning, you’ll be setting yourself up for a long and positive career in sports. When you experience winning, it just makes everything that much better.”

I have held numerous internships throughout my time working in sports. Yet, this has been the most rewarding, the most demanding, and the most applicable one that I have ever had the pleasure of being a part of. By taking what I have learned during my time with the Diamondbacks, I’ve been fortunate enough to accept a full-time offer with the team’s Triple-A affiliate, the Reno Aces, in their Corporate Partnerships department. That’s right: more baseball! It is very rewarding to continue my career within a sport I have experience with. Quite frankly, it’s an advantage to have a bit of insight of what to expect.

And yet no matter whether I ultimately stay in baseball or move into other sectors of the sports industry, I will remain ever-confident. After all, since I have made it in(to) baseball, I can make it anywhere.

This piece has been presented to you by SMU’s Master of Science in Sport Management.

Front Office Sports is a leading multi-platform publication and industry resource that covers the intersection of business and sports.

Want to learn more, or have a story featured about you or your organization? Contact us today.


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