Tips from Career Panel at Sloan Sports Analytics Conference (Part 1)

What You Need to Hear from Sports Industry Insiders

Sloan Sports Analytics Conference Career Panel 2015; American Athletics Conference Associate Commissioner Megan Morgan on screen.

The annual MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference is a highlight each year on the sports industry calendar.  Each year it includes a career panel, during which industry veterans dole out fifty minutes of valuable career advice and industry pertinent information to those seeking jobs in the sports industry.

My copious notes will be shared across two articles, with the companion piece including a list of nuggets gleaned from throughout the session.

  Meanwhile this article summarizes each panelist's closing remarks stimulated by the moderator Matt Sebal's final question on what advice the panelists would give a young person seeking a career in sports.

(For the background on each of the panelists, read this two part preview of the panel.)

Andy Rentmeester VP Sales Planning & Analytics at MSG Sports  Rentmeester advised using LinkedIn to stay "top of mind" with your connections.  Don't simply use the platform to make connections, rather use it to interact with contacts and create content that will allow your network to have a deeper understanding of your interests and experiences.

Evan Wasch VP Global Basketball Strategy at the NBA  Wasch encouraged candidates to "really know your story".  He expanded by saying that you have to be able to explain "where you have been, where you are now and where you are going" in your career.  It is important that you are able to clearly and succinctly (think elevator pitch) communicate that narrative to potential employers.

He continued that you need to constantly be refining your story as your career evolves.

Mike Zarren Assistant General Manager of the Boston Celtics  Zarren, a conference fixture since its inception, preaches finding something you love to do, rather than chasing job titles or specific sports or organizations.

  Additionally, he discussed being open to working in industries other than sports to gain experience (as he did himself).  And that if your early career experiences are in industries where you can interact with sports properties all the better.

Kristie Blasi Senior Director, Stats & Information Group at ESPN  Blasi remarked that candidates need to start by asking themselves if they have marketable skills and passion.  But that is certainly not enough.  She also offered how key preparing for the interview is in landing a job.  She is regularly surprised that candidates who make it to the interview round have not researched basic information like the cost of housing in central Connecticut.  In earlier comments during the panel she had encouraged candidates to "be sure to interview us".  Another reminder that thorough preparation for your interview can give you a substantial advantage.

Megan Morgan Associate Commissioner for Communications at the American Athletic Conference  Morgan also emphasized preparation and research before an interview, noting that you have to "do your homework".  She offered an example of a specific question she asks in interviews to determine candidates' level of preparation: "Who are the teams in our league?"  How would you feel if you made it to the interview phase of the hiring process and were confronted with that question and could not answer confidently?

  Ms. Morgan indicates that your candidacy takes a serious hit.

She also emphasized not "guessing" when confronted with a question you are not prepared to answer, remarking"if you wing it and miss it... you are done".

These accomplished speakers shared excellent advice.  And hearing it from people who have achieved great success in the sports industry lends their advice even more credence.

The opportunity to attend events that include career panels are not just limited to the Sloan Sports Analytics Conference.  Be sure that you are taking advantage of such opportunities at other events and on campus, if you are a student.  And do not limit yourself to just sports speakers - there is lots to be learned from established professionals across industries, too.

These responses in the final five minutes of this panel offer a sense of the quality insights each panelist brought to the table.

  Part 2 will summarize other important themes from their discussion.



Updated by Rich Campbell.

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