Tips from Career Panel at Sloan Sports Analytics Conference (Part 2)

What You Need to Hear from Sports Industry Insiders


Part 1 of this recap of the Sloan Sports Analytics Conference Career Panel entitled What's Your Game Plan? summarized the closing comments of each panelist on advice for securing a sports industry position. 

What follows is an emptying of my notebook paraphrasing some of the other insightful commentary offered by the panel.

Megan Moore, The American Athletic Conference: Figure out what you need out of your next position: skill set development or money or title or geography or something else.

  Such reflection will help you make good career decisions.

Evan Wasch, NBA: 1) Build your network early in your career  2) Find a mentor or champion - but don't think of that person as someone who will give you a job  3) Think broadly about the sports industry - team, leagues, conferences, apparel, etc.

Kristie Blasi, ESPN: Be aware that this is a nights, weekends, holidays industry.  When she interviews people they come in the night before the interview for four hours to give them a sense of the hours and to see how they respond the next day.

Mike Zarren, Boston Celtics:  Keep in touch with your college buddies and other contacts - don't just focus on networking with people in sports industry.  You never know where your next opportunity might come from.

Andy Resntmeester, MSG Sports:  Use informational interviews to learn about the industry.  Especially useful for students, as many in the industry are happy to do them.

Megan Morgan:  There are seven billion people on the planet and only 30 NBA GMs.  You have to be realistic about your career aspirations.

Matt Sebal:  Keep in mind that most sports businesses are small to mid-size businesses.

Mike Zarren:  People get hired by sports teams and other sports businesses because they have skills.

  And often those skills are developed by working at some other kind of business.

Megan Morgan:  Don't say "I'll do anything to work here".  It sounds desperate and does not demonstrate how you will add value based on the position you are interviewing for.

Mike Zarren:  The Celtics have five people who work directly on basketball decision making.  And the turnover in those positions is extraordinarily low throughout the league.

Kristie Blasi:  We hire lots of people at ESPN that were not previously working in sports.

Andy Rentmeester:  When you go on an informational interview, share something you have done (for example previous work or a class project) with your new contact.  It will make you stand out from the other informational interviews.

Mike Zarren:  The last two people we hired we found based on something they posted online  - we reached out to them based on that work.

Andy Rentmeester:  If you want to work in analytics, can you: 1) Diagnose a problem  2) Identify an appropriate data set for analysis  3) Sell your story.

Mike Zarren:  I worked for the Celtics for free for two years before I was in a position to say "if you want me to keep doing this, you are going to need to pay me".

Megan Morgan:  Have multiple mentors - not just one.

This collection of observations is intended to inspire and give you a realistic view of the job market.  In the next few weeks the video of the panel will likely be available so that you can more fully benefit from the panel.  But if you can't wait, I'd recommend watching last year's panel - also sponsored by KORE Software - that included panelists from the NFL, Golden State Warriors, New York Jets, Memphis Grizzlies and Atlanta Falcons.

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