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I help each of my clients to construct their ideal dream job. It refines the target of what kind of job they’re searching for.

Often, their dream job can be very different from their current job. This is especially true for those who either want to ramp their career into high gear, or those who are searching for more meaning at work.

As sports seasons ramp up, an industry that comes up often is: PROFESSIONAL SPORTS.

Don’t get me wrong — my clients aren’t aspiring to be the next Zach Randolph or Serena Williams. They want to work in professional sports. They aspire to join the sales, marketing, logistics, or management team.

This week, I had the opportunity to interview David E. Cooley, Director of Alumni Career Resources at UCLA in Los Angeles, CA. I also had the chance to speak with someone who started their career in sales and marketing with the Memphis Grizzlies.

One theme came through in both conversations. If you’re interested in professional sports, chances are good you’ll have to work your way up.

In professional sports, the staff is often promoted internally. In other words, many of the members of senior leadership started out as interns or in other entry level positions.

This can be good for those just starting out, like recent college graduates. Unfortunately though, if you’re further along in your career, this could create challenges – especially if you have commits like a mortgage, a family, or a comfortable lifestyle.

The second theme that came through both conversations was this. Positions in professional sports often pay less than their equivalent positions in other industries.

Why would this be? Well, first, if the sports organization is built on the ‘work your way up’ sort of model, they may want you to put in your time before rolling out the big bucks. Second, the interest level in professional sports is very high. For an organization that has more job candidates than they could ever want, why would they need to pay a competitive salary? They don’t.

My message today is not to discourage you from working in professional sports. It’s to highlight some of the challenges that you will most likely face if you pursue this highly desired industry.

If you aren’t in the beginning of your career, but you still want to go after a career in sports, here are a few tips:

  1. Get an Education: If you can take sports management classes, or other coursework related to professional sports, consider it. The fact that you’re a sports fan and watch many games is not enough.
  2. Network in Sports: Network yourself into the organization. Look for opportunities to get to know existing staff. It will give you a chance to discuss your transferable skills, and show how your current job applies to a future in sports.
  3. Be flexible on location: Professional sports are a little like the military. If you want to join, you may have to move (and travel) – quite a lot. Don’t expect to end up at the local franchise in your city.
  4. Reduce Expenses: Explore ways to reduce your cost of living. Can you live on less for a while to enable you try a new job in sports? You may have to.
  5. Work Your Way Up: Consider taking a lower level job than your current position. (Note: I would rarely recommend this tactic in any other industry.) Is there an internship or part time job available? I recently met a NBA salesperson who relocated to a new city for a part-time job just to get his foot in the door. He was eventually promoted to full time and is loving it. Now, that’s commitment!

Whatever you decide to do, walk in with your eyes open to the pros and cons. Any new industry will have them. You need to evaluate whether not the drawbacks fit into your overall plan.

And, for even more tips on getting your foot in the door with professional sports, watch for my upcoming podcast with David E. Cooley.

I hope these tips have helped you. Visit to find more tips to improve your job search. If I can be of assistance to you, don’t hesitate to reach out to me here.

Also, be sure to subscribe to my Copeland Coaching Podcast on Apple Podcasts where I discuss career advice every Tuesday! If you’ve already heard the podcast and enjoy it, please consider leaving a review in Apple Podcasts. Thanks.

Happy hunting!

Angela Copeland


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