While I’m not someone who dwells on the past, I am someone who loves to take a moment to reflect and see what progress has been made, appreciating the successes and learning from the failures. My Timehop addiction grows as I take a look back at some of the memories in the 8 or 9 years my social media accounts have been active.
This week marks my one year anniversary with Prodigy Sports and what a year it has been. Leaving Drexel, I had plenty of internship experience and had even run a music blog for 5 years. I’d traveled around the world, pondered how I would start my ‘full-time career’ and dreamed of where a job could lead. Actually, I didn’t know I’d be working in the position I have until after I had already graduated. I had narrowly missed out on a few long term internship and apprenticeship opportunities and decided to sign on for summer employment in my beloved Edinburgh for a second Fringe Festival. But so goes life right? You never quite know where that opportunity is going to come from, which door isn’t just a mirage and how those experiences will pan out.
While I might look back at this in a few years and chuckle at how ‘young’ I was, it seemed like the appropriate time to share some of the tips, tricks and lessons I’ve learned in this whirlwind year as a recruiter in somewhat of a startup environment.
Be Fearless & Genuine
This story will probably be told to every college student I meet for years to come, but the job I have right now is simply because I had the courage to walk up to my boss and introduce myself at an event. Let me backtrack a bit to set the stage.
In 2015 I had applied for an internship with Prodigy Sports. While I made it through two interviews, I ultimately didn’t get the job and ended up working the Edinburgh Fringe Festival Study Abroad program via Drexel. Was I a bit bummed out I didn’t get the job? 100%. Was I stressed because I didn’t end up getting the other internship until a week before classes ended and we had to start our co-op cycle. 100%. Was it for the best? Also 100%, because the Prodigy Sport offices aren’t commutable by public transit and short-term housing is a challenge. In retrospect, I probably wouldn’t have been able to take the internship if it was offered since I had no car and no place nearby to live.
But, here is where the story really begins to take shape. I stayed in touch with two of the people who interviewed me over the course of a year. While I had never met them in person, I knew their names and we had a few phone conversations. Fast forward – I’m working the 2016 Sports Business Awards and as I prepared countless name badges, I saw that the two people I knew + our CEO would be at the event. I made the decision that after dinner wrapped, but before the ceremony started, I’d walk over to the table and say hello. It was honestly just a genuine moment of wanting to make an in person connection and nothing more. Little did I know that it would impress our CEO enough for him to invite me into the office to chat informally. A few months later, after checking in for some advice, I received a call about a job that I didn’t even know existed.
So, as the heading states, be fearless & genuine. All it takes is a simple hello to the right person at the right time.
Job Descriptions Are Fluid
While I’m no stranger to wearing a lot of hats, this past year is the first time I’ve had a title and a true job description. We are entrepreneurial and nimble like most small companies. Stepping up to help out when certain projects come in or someone is traveling is the norm. Job descriptions evolve, on paper, although the core responsibilities remain and at the end of the day, we get what needs to be done, done.
The big lesson here? Don’t pick a job because of what a piece of paper says. Make sure to understand the company with which you are going to work, the people with whom you will be working with and the ultimate plans for growth. So many things can continue to evolve and change and the key to being a good employee is to be adaptable to those changes.
It’s All About Relationships
If you couldn’t tell from the earlier story, relationships are the foundation of things happening. You don’t need to know everyone and nor should you. Quality will always win out, but it is imperative to be comfortable building relationships at all levels of the industry.
A large part of recruiting is being able to tap into your network and obtain recommendations or do a reference check on a candidate. Remember my interviews for the jobs that didn’t pan out last summer? Well I’ve since reached out to a handful of the people who had helped me get interviews then to get referrals on potential candidates now, turning the tables and interviewing them for positions.
The other big thing that helped in the past year was being part of the inaugural LeadDog Mentoring Challenge. Through the program, I’ve been fortunate enough to meet a few ladies who are killing it at their own jobs. I was also paired with the most incredible mentor.
At the end of the day, a career is no fun if you don’t have peers in the industry to celebrate successes, question failures and with whom you can contemplate those big steps. It’s cliche, but your network truly is your net worth.
“Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young.” – Henry Ford
Read, listen, talk. Do whatever you need to do to continue learning and growing. It isn’t just reading industry trades or watching the latest sports documentary, it’s picking your head up, seeing what those in technology or healthcare or finance are doing to move their respective segments forward and dreaming how those lessons apply to your industry segment.. Sitting in sports and entertainment, we are constantly interacting with other industries. They are our sponsors, our patrons and our biggest fans so we need to be able to talk with them & not at them.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s hard to stay on top of all the news in a 24/7 society when we all have day jobs that take up the majority of our time, but carve out 30 minutes to an hour to read some newsletters, a book or listen to a podcast.
What the next year holds, no one knows, but I’m excited for more learning, more growing, some failures and hopefully a lot of successes.