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Using Isolation To Maximize Sport & Work Industry Skills

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About a week and a half ago, most professional, semi-professional and amateur sport organizations suspended operations indefinitely. Within the past week, governments asked people to work from and avoid leaving their homes. The goal has been to slow down the spread of the rapidly expanding Coronavirus (COVID-19). So far, sports media organizations have covered how to personally deal without watching and playing sports. Likewise, they’re covering how pro teams are helping employees cope financially. But, there is little coverage on what to do to best position yourself with your prospective or current sport industry employer. Until now. Here are 10 essential tips people working (or wanting to work) in sport should adopt while staying at home to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

1 Develop New Skills

Photoshop skills are essential if your goal is to work in graphic design, social media, or marketing. However, knowing how to use Photoshop will help you in obtaining any sports-related job. You can take classes to learn Photoshop (most universities/colleges offer these), read Photoshop books, or practice using free tutorials online. Take it from Michelle Biskup, Director of Operations for the Niagara River Lions of the Canadian Elite Basketball League (CEBL). Michelle recommends Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign as the most important tools to learn as an aspiring sports professional. Even if you don’t become a Photoshop connoisseur, knowing the basics of each program will make you more appealing to future employers.

I’m just waiting for the best timing for me to take online courses just to further advance myself in learning more digital graphic tools.

Michelle is 100% correct. And there has never been a better time than RIGHT NOW to do this. There are plenty of general online courses and workshops you can take to hone in on any of these useful skills. By the way, SPMA has these workshops and courses in the works for 2021!

2 Utilize Social Media Professionally

Life is busy. We all get caught up in the hustle and bustle of our everyday lives, forgetting to check-in on those who are close to us. With more-than-usual free time on our hands, why not reach out to your network? Although an in-person chat over coffee may not be ideal at the moment, consider a simple email, text, or LinkedIn message to start the conversation. Keeping in touch with the people in your network is a sure way of finding a job or volunteer opportunities. Your network will always be willing to help as long as you maintain a relationship. Last year, we did a profile on MLSE Launchpad’s Director of Sport Justin Bobb. When asked what he’d advice to young sport professionals, he had this to say:

I think the way that you act and the way that you live is really important for your future, especially with the popularity of social media. It’s important to be careful about what you post on social media. I will check your social media feed before I offer you a job. From what you post, it’s pretty easy for employers to see how you’d represent their brand. So, you might not think what you post on social media matters, but it no doubt does.

Now more than ever, you must be your own public relations representative. Be diligent about your posts. Potential employers in this industry do scour through your social media accounts and will be paying close attention to how you post on social media. Are you taking the shutdown seriously? Is there an element of ignorance of government policies in your posts? What are your beliefs about the seriousness of the pandemic?

These are all questions that you ought to bet potential employers will take notice of. Your best bet?

Take precautions when posting on social media. Every action has a reaction, and some may not be so good. Consider sharing the importance of self-isolating and social distancing during this period. As an aspiring sports professional, this will provide your future employers with an idea of your credibility and creative potential.

Here are some benchmark questions to ask yourself before you post:

  • What’s the purpose of this post?
  • Is the purpose positive?
  • Will this post hurt my image?
  • Who will see this post?
  • Would my parents, grandparents, teachers, professors find this useful?

Hey! Instagram recently introduced STAY HOME and SOCIAL DISTANCING filters and stickers. What a better way to show on social media that you are doing your part to prevent the spread of the virus than to show others what you are doing. Sonia Ścibor, an analyst for Global Sports Jobs, used the filter recently! Check it out.

3 Build Your LinkedIn Network

LinkedIn is a great application for e-meeting new people within the sports industry. Try connecting with people who work in areas you are interested in. Once connected, you have the ability to ask questions based on their role. Building a social network helps to keep you in front of potential employers, generate introductions and referrals with the networks of others, and ultimately, access important people. When you connect with the right people, professional opportunities are sure to arise.

Connecting with those individuals, you are likely to receive excellent advice on how to approach the ever-changing sport environment. An example of this type of advice comes from Emily Jaenson, the highest-ranked female executive in MiLB. Emily posted the following on LinkedIn just the other day. As an aside, we spoke to Emily last year as well.

Over the course of my career I have WORKED FROM HOME for a total of about three (3) years. Here are my top FIVE tips. Top 5 work from home tips:

1. Go outside every day! Take a walk, drink your coffee on the patio or eat your lunch outside.

2. Move your body! Plenty of free workouts online; I love the yoga app Down Dog.

3. Create a schedule! Map out your day for optimal productivity. What are you doing 8-5? Schedule lunch, breaks, and even exercise! You may work faster not being around your co-workers…

4. Set up a work space. You have to have somewhere “to go” when it’s time to work. For example, don’t sit on the couch with your laptop on the coffee table and the TV on!

5. Get dressed! Do not sit in your pajamas all day.

LinkedIn is a great application for e-meeting new people within the sports industry. Try connecting with people who work in areas you are interested in. Once connected, you have the ability to ask questions based on their role. Building a social network helps to keep you in front of potential employers, generate introductions and referrals with the networks of others, and ultimately, access important people. When you connect with the right people, professional opportunities are sure to arise.

4 Watch Sport-Related TV Shows & Movies

Sports may be suspended until further notice but the variety of sports movies and TV shows will keep you just as busy. Netflix has classics like Moneyball, The Blind Side and Coach Carter all available for streaming. For more recommendations, check out SPMA Hub’s The Shelf – a collection of TV shows, movies, books, and music relevant to sport.

5 Read Books With Strong Sport Industry Messages

We all say we’re going to start reading, but does that ever happen? Unlikely. There’s enough time now. Start reading those books you intended to read in the past! An active life in literacy has proven to improve health and reduce stress. Creating a habit of reading will result in a new hobby and an enriched life. If you have a hard time keeping with the habit of reading, this article may help you stay on track. The Shelf also provides book recommendations, check them out! Our Industry Profiles also contain books that sport professionals individually suggest.

6 Be Positive, Reflect & Plan

Social distancing can leave one feeling isolated. Remember to keep a positive mindset — don’t let this situation get the best of your mental health. Practice keeping your normal routine. Set an alarm, shower, and get dressed — as you would for any other normal day. Try to keep your mind active. Whether it be exercising at home, enjoying the weather, or planning your day, all of these options make as great distractions from the anxiety of a pandemic. Taking on small but meaningful tasks as well as having a positive mindset are sure ways to reduce stress.

7 Write & Have Your Writing Seen

Have an interest in writing? Test your skills out by writing for a sports blog! Perhaps even create your own! Writing about something you’re passionate about is a creative outlet for self-expression. You’ll also gain technical skills in the process. Writing provides endless opportunities, especially in the sports world – showcasing your personality is a unique way to get others to take notice of your work.

8 Seek Out Volunteer Opportunities

Volunteer opportunities are great if you’re looking to gain experience without committing too much of your time. Volunteering has great personal benefits such as improving self-esteem, building community, and providing a sense of purpose. Volunteering credentials also help in a professional setting, aiding in gaining new skills. Whether it be coaching a local youth sports organization or volunteering at a professional sporting competition, the opportunities are endless. Employers will consider you as a compelling candidate, and you will feel fulfilled from your volunteering. It’s a win-win!

9 Plan For Job Opportunities

With summer just around the corner, plenty of sports organizations will be looking to hire for their upcoming seasons. Internships and summer jobs not only look great on a resume, but offer hands-on experiences while creating connections within the sports industry. If you’re unsure of the path you want to take within sports, this is a great way to learn what areas of sports management you like and dislike. Freshen up your cover letter and resume, search for a job that fits your interests, and apply away! Not only did the Tampa Bay Buccaneers lure one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time during the pandemic (Tom Brady), they have been posting job opportunities such as this one:

The Bucs are working from home and still recruiting for Full-Time Community Relations and Groundskeeper roles, Full-Time paid, in-season internships; a part time mascot and several events set up roles (Conversion Crew).

We are optimistic that the sport industry will regain a sense of normalcy pretty quickly when this pandemic slows down. Be sure to keep an eye out for job openings around the world, as they are being posted during the pandemic. It’s a mistake to think that job postings have stopped.

10 Embrace Working From Home

We knew employers were having their staff do more work from home prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. But a lot of employees, interns and volunteers chose not to embrace it. Working from home had to be something you were fit for. In fact, we wrote an article in 2019 on how to determine if a sport industry work-from-home internship is the right fit for you.

In the piece, we noted how working from home can teach valuable time management, communication and digital skills. Gone are the days that working at home is an option. It will become a necessity. Therefore, take advantage of the opportunity to work at home, that you are now likely forced to embrace.

While browsing on LinkedIn, we found a quote from Austin Claiborne, a sport professional we interviewed a while ago.

Many of us are starting to work remotely because of the COVID-19 outbreak, and one of the most common things to happen during this time is the lack of productivity while confined to your home. I’ve seen many amazing tips on LinkedIn about this and so I wanted to share one that’s been working for me during this break in the NBA season.

I personally like to schedule out my day by the hour and stick to the same routine I have when I work at the office. It allows me to knock out a lot of daily tasks and actually makes the day fly by from the morning until the end of the day. This keeps me accountable since once the hour has past, you have to move on to the next item. Since it’s the only time allocated to the task for the day, it makes you work more efficiently. Give it a try and would love to hear if this works for anyone. Let’s continue to stay positive and motivate each other through this trying time and I hope everyone is staying safe.

Our Final Thoughts

These 10 essential tools will help to ensure that you are making the most of your time off. The sport industry is and always will be super competitive. These tools will help prepare you for entering the world of sport with full steam when it returns. Despite what you might be reading elsewhere, the future of sport is bright. We would cease operations if it wasn’t! Take opportunities as they arise and create goals for yourself. Let’s fight this virus with intelligence, grace, respect, and visions to save lives and propel our sport careers.

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