Making the Most of the Entry Level in Sports
A Young Professional’s first few years in the industry are often made up of short term, low pay positions such as internships or assistantships. In my own experience I have found these positions to be vital to one’s career path, yet frustrating due to their short term nature. A common fault of many in these entry level positions is to get caught up in finding the next position, while failing to make the most of their current role. There is a certain middle ground to be found, as one cannot lose all sight of next steps. However, focusing on that too much can cause a loss of focus on one’s current responsibilities. As someone who has had to deal with this mindset multiple times in the past, I have found that the following few tips can aid immensely in solving this issue.
1. Engage your community
One of the best ways to become passionate about a short term position is to actively engage the community in which you are located. Your role as an intern or assistant takes on a whole new meaning when you can see the impact that your organization has on the city it calls home. Volunteering for community table events, joining campus committees and just being open to conversation are all great ways to feel the bond between your employer and your community. Don’t let your status as a short term employee keep you from getting out and seeing all that your region has to offer!
2. Find a mentor (locally)
Finding a mentor in your own organization/department can make a huge difference in your level of satisfaction on the job. Those above us in the hierarchy have often been around the organization longer and can shed light on many of the tough issues faced by young professionals. Feeling more connected to your employer via some form of mentorship can go a long way in improving one’s satisfaction and overall performance. These types of relationships are also crucial when it does come time to find that next step. Don’t waste opportunities to engage those around you and above you in rank. Good leaders “climb the ladder” and then turn around to help the next person in line, so they should welcome the idea.
3. Find a mentor (nationally)
Though there is only so much time for mentorship, connecting to a national mentorship program can be a great way to feel more confident in your current role as an entry level employee. Umbrella organizations such as NACDA and NACMA in collegiate athletics offer mentorship programs that pair young professionals with other administrators in relatable fields. As with a local mentor, having someone to talk through the entry level issues with can aid in finding job satisfaction while also making more networking connections.
4. Control potential distractions
As an entry level employee it is fairly easy to get caught up in the success of others, as well as seeing other opportunities arise before the time in your current short term position is up. Distractions like these often come in the form of job posting emails or websites that boast the newest openings and subsequent hiring. Having an idea of what positions are available is not entirely a bad thing, but letting those shiny new positions distract you from current projects is one of the easiest ways to earn disfavor from those above you in rank (believe me, they notice). Keep a tight rein on the external distractions that could take away from your effectiveness as an entry level employee.
5. Be Patient
Lastly, as a young professional it is crucial to just take each position a day at a time and enjoy the process. A career in this industry is definitely a marathon, not a sprint. Take each position as it comes and find ways to make each one count. Patience is important when finding the next fit as well, as it is not always best to take the first available position that comes your way. Finding the right fit in an organization is important, and not all jobs or departments are created equal. Do research on those already in a certain department and study up on their campus culture, even before applying. Feeling appreciated and finding the right role in an organization are both huge keys to finding contentment as a Young Professional.
Until it is time to pursue that next position, give 110% every day, network with your fellow staffers and engage your community! It’s never too late to make an impact.