For those of us in the Sport Marketing and Management or Sport Communication programs, networking and getting real work experience in the industry are even more important than in other fields of study. From freshman year, we are preached that knowing the right people is every bit as important as knowing what your professors teach you. Fortunately for us here at IU, we are afforded many opportunities to meet industry professionals and hone skills crucial to finding a career after we graduate.
Last semester, the Sports and Business Career Fair gave students the opportunity to learn about internships and talk with representatives from more than a dozen sports organizations from around the region. This semester offers an even greater opportunity for such networking: the Indianapolis Sports Industry Career Conference, held in Indianapolis on February 26.
The conference is organized each year by the School of Public Health’s own Dr. Gary Sailes, who all Sport Management majors are surely familiar with. Doc puts his connections to great use for his students every year by bringing in representatives from dozens of sports organizations, including the Indianapolis Colts, Indiana Pacers, and the NCAA. Many of these organizations are offering internships that encompass a variety of activities, from marketing to communications and beyond.
In fact, I was inspired to write this post because my attendance last year led to my first ever internship at the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) last summer. My experience last year was a positive one and obviously ended up getting me invaluable experience, but I wanted to reflect on the conference and give some advice.
The conference last February was my first time attending any sort of career fair or networking event, and needless to say I was nervous and a bit lost at the start. With that, here are a few pointers:
- Bring a pen and a notepad/padfolio. This might seem obvious to some but it is important to soak in as much as possible from the various panels and people you will end up talking to. The easiest way to do this is to take notes. If you are attending an event like this for the first time, you may be overwhelmed, so writing down the important stuff will help avoid forgetting it later on.
- Sit towards the front of the room and ask questions! During the panels you will be sitting at tables that go ten deep to the back of the room. In order to make yourself stand out, sit towards the front and try to ask at least one question so that your face seems more familiar to the professionals you want to talk to later on. In the days before the conference, write down some questions you may want to ask on the notepad.
- Be personable and be confident! Once the panels are completed, you will get the chance to talk on a more personal basis with the professionals around the room. However, you don’t have to talk strictly about their position or the internships they are offering. Every other student there will be asking those same basic questions. So, mix it up and ask about their job history, where they went to school, or even the weather! The point is to separate yourself and get a step ahead.
- Follow up! This is the most important step BY FAR. The day after the conference, take the time to send a short email to every professional you talked to and got a business card from. Make sure to thank them for their time, and try to include a detail of the conversation that may help them remember who you are. Remember, these professionals will probably talk to at least 50 other students, and separating yourself from the rest of the pack is the best way to make a connection that will benefit you in the future.
If you are interested in the conference, sign up here.
There are still a couple of weeks left to sign up but only a few spots remain! For those of you who do attend, good luck and have fun!
Brandon Jones is a junior at IU majoring in Sports Marketing and Management with minors in Business and Spanish. He one day hopes to work for a professional sports organization in either marketing or communications. He also works with IU Student Athletic Board as Chair of the Alumni Relations Committee.
IUSPH Career Services
Job opportunities for Indiana University School of Public Health-Bloomington majors are diverse and expanding as the emphasis on living a healthy lifestyle grows around the world. Career Services experts in each of our academic departments will provide one-on-one counseling and career building opportunities throughout your academic career, from choosing the right major to developing a strategy to find a job. They can assist you with:
•resume and cover letter preparation
•graduate school preparation