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How do people get sport management internships?

June 14
Two professionals holding an informal meeting in office lobby

It’s a frustrating reality that employed people are often the most likely to get hired into new positions. So how does a person land a first job, having done little or no prior work in a particular field?

Internships are ideal ways to get past that hurdle. By interning while pursuing your education, you set yourself up to graduate with work experience on your resume. Keep the following guidelines in mind as you seek out sport management internships.

Don’t Be Intimidated by Lack of Experience.

Companies looking for interns recognize that interested candidates are likely to be students with little and/or varied professional experience. If that describes you, you’re in the perfect position to apply. One posting for a sports management internship in early 20211, for example, sought these qualifications:

"Applicants should be business, recreation or physical education majors looking to work on the operations side of sports. The internship requires evening and weekend hours.

  • Degree or enrollment toward a degree in business, sport management, physical education or recreation
  • Ability to work approximately 30 hours per week, split between office hours and on site at leagues/events
  • Friendly personality; outgoing and interested in socializing with others
  • Interest in sports and recreational activities
  • Past baseball or softball officiating/umpiring experience is preferred
  • MUST have a car available (mileage reimbursed)
  • Valid driver's license"

Another posting2 had more a more flexible list of preferred traits:

"The Sports Management Internship is designed for students studying or those aspiring toward a career in recreation, athletics, sports management, communication, event planning, or relationship management.

  • Excellent interpersonal skills
  • Good organizational skills and attention to detail
  • Flexibility and willingness to take on diverse roles and responsibilities
  • Ability to deliver company philosophy and uphold customer service standards
  • Clear and friendly phone manner
  • Computer literacy
  • Ability to multitask in a pressurized environment
  • Good communication skills
  • An interest in or passion for sports"

A key takeaway here is that, if you’re new in the world of sport management, you’re exactly the person these organizations want to find.

Raise Your Game.

While you strive to gain professional sport management experience, build as much volunteer experience as you can. Between local sport organizations and school teams, you’ll likely find numerous opportunities to get involved and develop your skills in coaching, ticket sales, marketing, public relations, and other important areas. Get in touch with high school and college athletics departments, nearby sport camps, and community organizations that have or sponsor teams, and find out where they can put you to work. Every experience heightens your skills and demonstrates to possible employers that you take your pursuits seriously.

Expand Your Network Through Multiple Channels.

Through local team involvement, you’ll start meeting people and building your connections in the sport world. This is essential, and there are multiple ways to expand your network further. Ask your faculty members to recommend people and organizations for you to contact. Consider your university’s alumni network and the connections it can help you make. Whenever possible, go to seminars, trade shows, conferences, and other online and in-person industry events. By surrounding yourself with people whose interests and goals are similar to yours, you create opportunities to learn and meet the industry professionals whose work inspires you. Every conversation can move you closer to the internship—and, later, the career position—that you’re striving for.

Get Your Facts Right.

Conduct thorough research into the types of internships becoming available and the preferred qualifications for them. In addition to the websites of Major League Baseball, the NBA, NHL, U.S. Olympic Committee and other big-name organizations, you’ll find postings for open positions on these sites:

You’ll increase your chances of finding the best position if you don’t limit your search geographically, so look for opportunities in any location. Pay very careful attention to application deadlines. This may get complicated, as many internships start seasonally rather than annually, so you’ll find multiple deadline dates in any given year. You’ll also find that some organizations make internship selections months ahead of their start dates, so give yourself ample lead time.

Create a Standout Cover Letter and Resume.

Apply for every internship that appeals to you (again, casting a wide net improves your chances of success), and specifically tailor each letter and resume to each company and position. The very fact that you’re applying tells your future employers that you want an internship. You have to convince them that you’re the best match for their internship, so the more you’ve learned about them and what they’re looking for, the stronger your application can be. Demonstrate how you’re the perfect fit using your resume to present your education, experience, and skills, and your cover letter to showcase your personality, interests, and goals.

Keep the tone of your letter professional. Make absolutely sure that your letter and resume use flawless spelling, punctuation, grammar and vocabulary. Proofread your materials slowly and carefully, and then ask someone whose writing skills you trust to proofread them. Even strong writers can become blind to their own typos, and someone else’s knowledgeable perspective is always helpful, even if only to confirm the strength of your work. This is your moment to show how you would represent your new organization to the world, so give your potential employers every reason to have confidence in your ability to speak for them.

Put Yourself in the Right Place.

Build the skills and the network you need to launch your career. With the KU online master’s degree in sport management*, you’ll be ready when the right opportunities arise. Explore the curriculum, including our internship opportunity, and schedule a call with an admissions advisor today.

*This program is a Master of Science in Education (M.S.E.) degree in health, sport management, and exercise science with an emphasis in sport management.