Get in the Game with an Internship in Sports

Fall is prime time for sports: football season begins, the World Series wraps up another baseball season, and basketball rolls around again. For sports fans, this is an exciting time.

Football in Grass

There are some great career opportunities in the sports industry, but breaking into the field can be a challenge. Openings are limited and are highly competitive. Related experience – and years of it – is crucial, making internships a competitive necessity.

How do you find an internship in the sports industry. Here are some starting points:

Understand the wide range of opportunities in the industry. The sports industry is very interdisciplinary, and there is something for everyone. But as a starting point for any internship search, you want to identify which area you’d like to get experience in. Some industry segments include:

  • Sports Media: Marketing, Broadcasting, Sports Writing, Public Relations
  • Sports Team Administration: Coach, Instructor, Referee, Athletic Director
  • Sports-Related Engineering: Stadium & Sports Facilities Operations, Sporting Goods & Equipment, Product Development & Design (games, computer-assisted training devices)
  • Sports Medicine: Sport Rehabilitation & Orthopedics, Athletic Training, Sports Nutrition, Sports Psychologist
  • Sports – Other: Sports Management & Finance, Sports Law, Sports Statistics, Retail & Wholesale Operations

Familiarize yourself with job boards and other opportunities.

  • Teamwork Online: Job boards for Baseball, Basketball, Football, Hockey, Soccer, Golf/Tennis, Motorsports, College and National Governing Bodies, Arenas/Facilities, as well as “Multiple Entities” like media outlets and sports/entertainment firms.
  • Association for Women in Sports Media: The AWSM has their own Internship/Scholarship Program through which selected students receive up to a $1000 scholarship and are placed in a paid internship. Placements have included ESPN, Sports Illustrated, and Nike.
  • Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association: Search for jobs with retailers such as Dick’s Sporting Goods and Dunhams Sports as well as concessionaires like Delaware North Companies (who serves Miller Park).

Identify organizations you would love to work for. Another key strategy in any internship search – Go right to the source. Here are a few that might interest you:

Find the right contact. Networking and research are always important, and part of the process is figuring out who is the best person to send your resume to. If you are trying to get into a particular department (ex. marketing), reach out to the head of that department.

Stand out from the competition. Many cover letters and resumes look and sound the same. Highlight the value you will bring to the organization. Provide evidence through specific examples. Work with a career counselor/advisor to develop a strong resume and to better understand the purpose of your cover letter.

Be persistent. Again, the sports industry is a competitive one. Especially if you are seeking an internship with a sports team, it can take a couple of tries before you score the internship you want.

An internship in the sports industry can happen, and it can be amazing.

Are you considering a career in the sports industry? What have you been doing to find an internship in the field?

Photo by Jayel Aheram

Confessions of a Summer Intern: Find Your Passion

Leah writes her final “confession.” If you missed her previous posts, you can read them here and here.

This summer has been such an experience for me. I can’t believe it’s almost over! I don’t have many new updates for you all. I am continuing the rest of the summer at Anchor Inn doing all of their social media posts and updates. If they would like me to continue doing social media and website updates during the school year, I plan to do so. It’s fun and pretty easy with all of the different tools available.

The Anchor Inn website I created!
Anchor Inn Website

An inside look at the Google Analytics dashboard for the Anchor Inn website.
Leah Website Analytics

I’m using the rest of my summer to try and plan out my future. Recently, I have been in contact with a few different business professionals around the greater Milwaukee and Chicago areas to conduct informational interviews. I’m interested in broadening my network and learning the best plan of attack for getting a job, coming from a hiring manager’s perspective. It’s really great to sit down with someone who looks at resumes all day and have them tell you what they look for. I’ve gotten some great advice and added more people to my professional network. If you have time to reach out to people, I suggest doing so, especially if you plan on relocating to a large market like Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, etc.

This next semester I am signed up for a marketing internship with the UW-Whitewater Athletics department. I am going to give sports another try, because I am still interested in sports so long as there is actual marketing experience I will gain. I am planing on creating various marketing plans for new events, updating an online magazine/catalog with events and information, and increasing student involvement and participation at sporting events. I am really excited for the opportunity and I have no fear that it will be a much better experience than the one I had with the Mallards.

I will be graduating in December, and immediately afterwards I plan on taking some time to travel. I plan on going to Ecuador for a few weeks and possibly visit some friends in Germany for a few days. Once I return from all of my trips, I plan on moving to Chicago and working for a multicultural marketing firm. I really hope to be able to use Spanish in the workplace, and Chicago has an excellent market for me to find a job doing exactly that. Plus, it’s not too far from home.

Using Escape to Ecuador to make my travel plans!
Leah Trip Planning

I am really happy to have had this opportunity to let you all know about my experiences this summer. I hope it has taught you that you must really enjoy what you do; otherwise don’t do it. In meeting with different business professionals, I bring up my situation with the Mallards. I ask them “How does it sound if I say I quit an internship?,” and then explain my reasons for doing so. Time and time again they say that it speaks to my character and shows that I am hard working, that I actually want to learn, and that I am not afraid to get the most out of any opportunity. So don’t be scared of what people think! If you try something and it doesn’t feel right, go somewhere else and find another opportunity. If there aren’t any opportunities available, create your own opportunities!

College is all about learning and finding your true passion, so take advantage of that! It’s better to try out different internships and have these good and bad experiences now versus signing a year contract with your first job out of school and being miserable for 365 days. Life is too short! Find your passion!

Confessions of a Summer Intern: Meet Leah Beutler

Leah Beutler

Leah Beutler is a senior at UW-Whitewater, graduating this December. She is a double-major in Spanish and Direct & Interactive Marketing. She spent part of her summer as a Marketing Intern with the Madison Mallards.

The Madison Mallards are an unaffiliated collegiate baseball team. My first day, I was unsure of what to expect. First, we had intern orientation which lasted about 15 minutes. We all sat on the Budweiser Rooftop at the Mallards stadium and filled out paperwork while going through brief introductions. Immediately after orientation, we broke out into groups based on our internship titles: marketing, operations, hospitality, etc.

My office
Madison Mallards Internship Office

As a marketing intern, I am primarily responsible for community involvement and game day promotions. There are many aspects of each required task. Community involvement includes events such as parades and mascot appearances. I am responsible for showing up on time, interacting with customers, and being vocal about the Mallards upcoming events and games, encouraging community members to come to games. I am also responsible for the Culver’s Bat Kid which entitles me to call people who sign up at Culver’s and schedule a day for the Culver’s Bat Kid winner and his/her family to attend a Mallard’s game. They receive tickets to the game, fun prizes, and a meet and greet with the players before the game.

Game day promotions include 90-second games and activities during each inning break for each home game. We are responsible for making sure all participants, which are usually children, are safe and having fun. If something goes wrong, we are required to think on our feet and solve the issue as we think our boss would.

On game days, the marketing team is running around like headless chickens. We must prepare all of the promotional items for the evening. For example, if there is a bobble head give-away, bringing them all to the front; gathering paint for our Hallman Lindsay paint promotion; even wrapping heads of iceberg lettuce for “Iceberg awareness night.”

Additionally, we are responsible for gathering prize wheel prizes and making sure the prize wheels work and the signs are in good condition. Once gates open, we are responsible for finding people to participate in the on field promotions each night. Sometimes this is very easy and sometimes it is nearly impossible and we almost have to beg people, but the spots always get filled! Promotions require us to pay attention to the game and when there are three outs, we have to be ready to sprint on the field and start our promotion because our 90 seconds is ticking down. Community involvement and game day promotions are the majority of the marketing experience we get as a Mallards intern; however we put in a lot more work than just ‘marketing stuff’ on game days.

The 3rd base gate, where we run out for promotions.
3rd Base Gate

One thing I have learned already from this internship is that jobs in sports are extremely demanding, beyond what I believed. On game days, we arrive at the ballpark at 9 am and depending on the game, we usually don’t leave until around 10:30 pm. Prior to opening day, we worked several days from 9 am until 10 pm repainting chipped wood, organizing storage sheds, hanging signage, and running errands, amongst other things. It is usually six days a week and if we have games all weekend, there are no days off. I found that working for a sports team may not be my exact dream job after all, however a sports related job is still an option for me.

As I continue my summer, I don’t plan on staying at the Madison Mallards. I don’t think I am being challenged enough in certain areas and I think the best option for me is to explore what other options are out there. I am only a few months away (optimistically speaking) from graduation, and I am interested in spending my summer gaining different types of marketing knowledge. The experience at the Mallards was unique and I am glad I did it because I learned what really goes on behind the scenes and that working for a professional sports team is not my dream job after all.

Internship Link Roundup for the Week of October 4

New: Field-Specific Resources

Some new resources have been added to the UW-Whitewater Student Internships website. In the “How to Find an Internship” section, you can now access lists of field-specific internship programs and resources.

The current menu of fields includes the following:

Within each section, you will find notes on internship opportunities in or near Whitewater. You will find information on internship programs in Wisconsin and beyond. You will also find links to additional resources related to the field. Eventually, resources to help you in creating your own internship in the field will be added.

Are there any areas of interest that haven’t been covered? Do you have information on programs or resources that you don’t see currently listed?

There is also a link to the International Internships section of the site. The International Internships page has been recently revamped, so be sure to check it out.

In addition, the Internship Search Plan has also been revised. Again, check it out if you haven’t already seen it. It’s a helpful tool at any point of your internship search.



Finally, I want to welcome my colleagues’ new blog to the web: Career Spotlight. Ron Buchholz, Kathy Craney, and Ellen Hatfield will be writing about permanent job search strategies, the employer perspective, development of your personal brand, how to present yourself professionally, and success on the job. They are very excited about blogging and are very passionate about teaching students how to succeed in their professional careers. You will now find a feed to their most recent posts on the right-hand side of this blog.


We’re only a couple of weeks away from the beginning of the fall semester. Remember that the staff in Career & Leadership Development are available to help you connect with co-curricular activies, identify internship opportunities, and prepare to graduate to the professional world. Stop in and see us soon!


Photo by D Sharon Pruitt (pinksherbert)


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