Sports Marketing Career Guide

World famous soccer player during night game pointing to his sports marketing team in the stands.

The promotional giveaways and ads appearing on the jumbotron at your local arena or stadium, the corporate-sponsored golf tournament you watch on television, and the commercials with athletes promoting your favorite beverage are all products of the innovative thinking and hard work of professionals working in the sports marketing career field.

Despite the long hours and ultra-competitive environment, a career in sports marketing can be rewarding in many ways. High salary potential, challenging, yet fun work, and really nice perks such as free tickets and sky box access to major sporting events as well as opportunities to be introduced to (and possibly build rapport with) professional athletes are some of the alluring features of the sports marketing world.

Laying the Groundwork

Given the industry’s abundance of big brands, big events, big athletes, and big dollars, the allure of sports marketing is obvious. To break into this fast-paced, fast-growing industry, you’ve got to have a good idea of the skills and experience firms are looking for, and start thinking now about how you can become the type of applicant they want.

Education and Experience

What if your school doesn’t have a sports marketing major? Don’t worry. Aside from an industry-specific or related major, there are plenty of steps you can take during college, or just after, to make yourself an attractive candidate for sports marketing positions.

If You’re a College Freshman, Sophomore or Junior

1. Curriculum

Majoring in sports marketing, if possible at your school, shows companies your longtime dedication to the field, and provides you with an early understanding of the industry. But many students find that making a high-level commitment to the field so early on can ultimately be restricting. Classes that require data analysis, such as science lab classes or statistics courses, will reflect your numerical savvy. Economics coursework gives you helpful background knowledge of how the business and financial spheres operate. Marketing firms also value writing skills, although academic writing may not give you practice in the punchy, “short is sweet” style marketers seek.

2. Grades

Employers will take a close look at your grades when there’s not much else to your application, for example, when you’re applying for a junior year internship. Once you have some experience under your belt, grades become less important, but are still considered a good overall indicator of your competence.

3. Extracurricular Activities

Sales experience impresses sports marketing firms, and you can usually find work in this capacity for campus publications or local media outlets. Any experience you can get in an executive or managerial capacity, whether for the student government, the school football team, or a campus ska band, if spun correctly, will raise eyebrows in sports marketing interviews.

4. Do Some Volunteer Sports Marketing

Chances are, a number of organizations in your area sponsor charity or novelty sporting events, from Heart Walk to the annual Greek Council Keg Toss. With a quick call to the coordinator, you could be busy dealing with sponsors, designing T-shirts, promoting the event, etc. just like a real sports marketer!

5. Internships

Sports marketing firms generally hire interns after their junior or senior year. These opportunities provide an excellent introduction to the industry and its personalities and day-to-day feel.

If You’re a College Senior

In your first semester…

1. Avoid Senioritis

Boost your GPA and take relevant courses. Marketers love to follow trends, and an improving academic record bodes well. Grades that have been stagnating in the lower-B range for years may leave some hiring professionals cold. You still have time to take courses that will show employers your understanding of the skills involved in marketing. Classes that require data analysis, such as science lab classes or statistics courses, will reflect your numerical savvy. Economics coursework gives you helpful background knowledge of how the business and financial spheres operate.

2. Make Contacts

Who you know can be just as important as what you know in sports marketing, where most jobs are unadvertised or “hidden” jobs. While it’s possible that you’ll find opportunities in sports marketing listed in the paper or on the Internet, for the best positions, these postings may be no more than a management formality to satisfy company policy. The more people you know in the industry, the more likely you’ll be to get the inside scoop on the “hidden” jobs. You can make contacts through alumni meetings and dinners or by calling people listed in your school’s alumni guides. Alums who’ve graduated 10, or even 20, years before you can be very helpful; they not only know what it’s like starting out right after college, but they also have a great deal of professional knowledge to share.

3. Attend Job Fairs

Job fairs often host a variety of marketing firms looking for prospective candidates. Be sure to bring several copies of your resume to give to company representatives!

4. Participate In Every Aspect Of On-Campus Recruiting

In order to compete for the select spots available to recent college graduates at the few companies that recruit on-campus, it is important that you participate in the structured recruiting process offered at your school. Make sure that you bring your resume to any meetings where members of the recruiting companies will be present, and always introduce yourself to as many people as possible. You may feel like they won’t remember you, but remember that they are on the lookout for prospective candidates. They’re being paid to remember you, so get yourself noticed!

In your second semester…

1. Send In Your Resume

Since many companies do not recruit on campuses, it’s imperative that you send in your resume to any company that interests you. And don’t forget to follow up with inquiries about each company’s hiring process.

2. Do Informational Interviews

A good informational interview, provided you’ve done your homework, can impress the right person and lead to a bona fide job interview. Write to the firms that you’d like to work for and the contacts you’ve made through alumni connections, recruiting programs, and job fairs, and ask to schedule informational interviews. State your interest in the field and your desire to identify the position that will suit you. Do not treat your meetings as employment interviews, relax and ask questions about the industry, the company, and how your interviewee got started.

3. Get An(other) Internship

You should really be onto at least your second internship by this point. Sports marketers hire a fair number of graduating seniors as interns, with the intention of hiring them for full-time positions if the internships work out to their satisfaction. Look into it.

If You’re a Recent Grad

1. Make Contacts

See above.

2. E-mail Your Resume

Campus recruiting isn’t the only way to get into sports marketing. In fact, companies fill very few positions on campus, so don’t feel discouraged about sending your resume to any company that interests you. Remember, however, the same rules apply to e-mail as traditional mail, including the need for accurate spelling, grammar, and a professional tone. Also, if you’re e-mailing a number of people asking for employment, don’t send a form letter style “cc” or “carbon copy” to everyone. Be as personable and personal as possible without sacrificing professionalism.

3. Call

Don’t be afraid to call to follow up a resume or e-resume, but try to be respectful of people’s schedules. Sports marketing professionals lead hectic lives and may not get back to you immediately. As in any industry, a carefully placed phone call may draw attention to your resume, while three in one day might hurt your chances of getting in the door.

4. Do Informational Interviews

See above.

5. Start Low

If you’re desperate to work at a certain firm, be prepared to start out working at a level below your ideal. Temping as a secretary for an agency may help you prove your devotion to the people in charge. And if you’re appropriately enthusiastic, they’ll consider you when better positions become available.

Remember: Climbing the ladder means starting at the bottom.

Internship FAQ

Q: Do you really need an internship on your resume to land a job in sports marketing?

A: Yes, yes, and yes again. It’s impossible to overemphasize the fact that internships are the bread and butter of entry-level sports marketing experience.

Q: How difficult is it to land an internship in sports marketing?

A: Given how competitive the industry is in general, sports marketing internships are relatively easy to come by. This does not mean that they will be thrown in your lap – you will still have to compete with others at your peer level who want the job as much as you do. A good GPA, relevant course experience, and another relevant internship or a previous summer job will definitely give you the advantage in the internship hunt.

Q: How do I find out about internship opportunities?

A: The best place to start is in your career resource center or with your faculty advisor, especially if your college has a sports marketing and management degree program. However, if your school doesn’t have the resources to help with your search, there are ways you can find an internship independently. Check out the insider resources listed in the resource reviews and company profiles sections of this industry guide. And don’t be afraid to “cold call.” If you know the name of a local firm you wish to work for, give their Human Resources department a ring and ask if they need interns.

Q: Are sports marketing internships usually paid or unpaid?

A: Sports marketing internships are usually unpaid, but there are exceptions. For instance, one sports merchandiser provides its interns with stipends for living expenses, reimbursements for travel costs, and an hourly wage to boot.

Q: What do interns actually do?

A: As an intern, your responsibilities will vary dramatically depending upon your employer. For instance, most major league baseball teams maintain separate departments for marketing, merchandising, public relations, and ticket sales. Interning for one department will expose you to a number of tasks specific to that department?such as writing press releases and putting together media kits in the PR division.

Conversely, minor league front offices, which have fewer staff and may not be departmentalized, might give you larger responsibilities, like corresponding directly with the press or acting as a liaison to a corporate sponsor. If you intern with a sports marketing firm you will most likely work on event planning. Some of the larger sports marketing employers also organize intern seminars, taught by top-level execs from the companies. However, with any internship, don’t be surprised if there is some administrative “grunt work” involved, like filing, photocopying, answering phones, and faxing.

Q: What do sports marketing employers look for in an intern?

A: Internships typically go to students in their junior or senior year of college. Sports marketing firms, leagues and associations, and sports merchandise manufacturers want interns with good communication and interpersonal skills, strong organizational abilities, and flexibility. An excellent academic record, relevant previous work experience, and evidence of an interest in sports marketing in your extracurricular activities can also be helpful.

Q: When should I begin looking for an internship?

A: Give yourself two or three months to collect the necessary information, send out resumes, and interview for positions. This means, for summer internships, you need to get the process rolling in late winter or early spring.

What To Expect

Sports marketing is known for having a low rate of turnover, and for employees “moving up the ladder” quickly. Those just starting out in entry-level positions can expect to stay there for at least a few years while learning the ins-and-outs of the industry. Mid- and upper-level administrative positions often become lifetime jobs because employee satisfaction is so high.

Salary

Job salaries in the sports marketing field vary widely by position, experience and specific industry, as well as by region of the country. Typically, salaries on the East and West coasts are higher than those in the Midwest. Most salaries for the entry-level are usually low compared to the industry overall. However, the Bureau of Labor Statistics lists the average salary within the ‘Spectator Sports’ industry for occupational titles in ‘Advertising, Marketing, Promotions, Public Relations, and Sales Managers’ at $122,000.

Significant salary range differences from $60,000 to well into the millions for upper-level executive positions reflect the sheer variety of sports employers, even within specific categories: sports marketing firms, corporate sports marketing divisions, and sports leagues and associations. For example, the Director of Marketing for a major league baseball team could earn two to three times as much his or her counterpart in the minor leagues.

Pros and Cons

PROS

Variety of Tasks

Regardless of your position, this is not a sit-at-your-desk-and-grind-your-pencil-to-paper-all-day type of industry. Everyone has a thousand tasks to do. Sports marketers say they love the challenge of juggling several responsibilities rather than just one. As an entry-level employee, you may hop from negotiating with a vendor to proofreading a press release to consulting with a corporate client in a matter of minutes.

The Sports Atmosphere

While marketing and business oriented tasks comprise the largest part of the professional responsibilities in this field, sports are the true incentive for many industry insiders.

Events

Sports marketing insiders say there’s nothing more exciting than seeing an event that they’ve worked on 24-7 for the past three months finally come together.

Celebrities

Sports marketing provides its employees with the opportunity to meet and work with some of the top names in professional sports. Perks such as complimentary tickets are common, although it’s just as likely that you’ll be working a game as watching it. Still, many insiders claim that this is one of the most rewarding aspects of the job.

People

Sports marketers interact with many people on a daily basis. From food vendors, to corporate executives, to sports celebrities, to newspaper editors, to merchandisers, insiders say they like being able to work with such a variety of professionals.

Creativity

Planning and executing sporting events requires both vision and flexibility of thought, and sports marketers love to take on this challenge. Industry professionals enjoy the opportunity to stretch their creative muscles brainstorming new events or new business pitches.

CONS

Details, Details

Is the hot dog vendor on site? Did the corporate sponsor get their tent set up the way they wanted it? Have the press releases been sent? The intense focus on detail required to assemble an event can be a frazzling, but necessary, task. Anything you miss could very well come back to haunt you. This is one of the aspects of sports marketing that insiders say they could live without.

Big Egos

Nobody likes to work with people who think they’re better than everyone else, and sports marketing has its share of self-centered individuals. Industry professionals and their clients sometimes have inflated opinions of their own importance, and putting up with all these big egos can be difficult and stressful.

Hectic Pace

Working in sports marketing, you have to be able to do ten tasks at once. “It gets out of control here,” says one “in-house” sports marketing manager about her company. Don’t expect to have time to pause and catch your breath. Insiders say that the rushed environment can be overwhelming, and you can be buried under an avalanche of work.

No Personal Life

“It’s not 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., it’s 8:30 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.,” says one sports marketing professional. If you work for a professional sports league or team, during the game season you’ll be putting in lots of extra hours. The same is true for those professionals working for sports marketing firms. At events, you’ll be up all night dealing with contingencies, such as an athlete getting injured or pulling out of a game. Professionals say you must have an incredible desire to work in this industry in order to make the necessary sacrifices of personal time.

Over-Commercialization

While many sports marketers are scrambling to think of new forms of sponsorship and new places to emblazon corporate logos, there are those industry insiders who say a little prudence might be wise. Sports marketing was originally intended to be a promotion method which would help corporations avoid the clutter of traditional advertising, and some professionals think it still should be.

Fierce Competition

To become successful in sports marketing and management, you must swim with the sharks. Professionals say that the ruthlessness of the business coupled with the long hours on the job wears them down. Advancing through the ranks can be tough, and insiders often complain that infrequent turnover can leave little room at the top.

Entry Level Positions

Sports marketing is a rapidly growing, billion-dollar industry. However, despite the increased demand for marketers, sports-oriented companies have had little difficulty filling positions, as jobs in this field are highly sought after. Notice that the list below does not include an entry-level position that eventually leads to becoming a sports agent. That’s because agents are usually businessmen who have learned the ropes through trial and error or lawyers who have extended their practices to include sports representation. Assistants to sports agents are almost always professional secretaries who have years of administrative experience and/or a degree from a secretarial school.

Account Coordinator (Sports Marketing Firm)

As an Account Coordinator at a sports marketing firm, you’ll support upper-level executive staff in the creation of marketing strategies, the coordination of corporate sponsorships. and the planning of sporting events. Account Coordinators help to maintain strong relationships with the firm’s corporate clients. Even though this is an entry-level position, previous experience in the sports marketing field, such as an internship or volunteer position, is required. According to one sports marketing professional, Account Coordinators will do “everything across the board,” and must have good writing and oral communication skills.

An Account Coordinator’s responsibilities include:

  • Implementing promotional campaigns.
  • Administrative duties such as faxing, filing, and copying.
  • Conducting sponsorship market research.
  • Helping to create new business proposals for potential sponsors.
  • Managing the sponsorship database.

What Insiders Say:

“I worked as an assistant to the head of the sports marketing group. I did a lot of administrative work in the beginning, to help the staff get ready for the event we were working on. I did a lot of faxing, and I called all the corporate sponsors. A local radio station was going to be one of the event sponsors, so I spoke with them to touch base and start a relationship with them. They were going to have the after party at a local blues club so I had to talk to them about dates and times.”

Account Assistant,
Sports Marketing Firm

Event Coordinator (Sports Marketing Firm)

The Event Coordinator position is one of the first rungs on the sports marketing ladder, and is available both within sports marketing firms and “in-house” departments. This position requires a great breadth of experience in the field and is one of the more difficult entry-level positions to acquire. Working with the Event Director, an Event Coordinator assists with operations both on and off-site, and must be attentive to every detail of event staging, from the spelling on the banners to the location of the food vendors. Event Coordinators also correspond with corporate sponsors, ensuring that all their needs are met.

An Event Coordinator’s responsibilities include:

  • Helping to organize and execute sporting events.
  • Acting as the firm’s liaison to corporate sponsors.
  • Administrative work such as copying and faxing.
  • Training and managing volunteers and interns.
  • Assisting with the sale of tickets and ticket packages.
  • Writing and assembling event media guides.
  • Negotiating with vendors, caterers, and merchandisers.
  • Coordinating the set-up of corporate sponsors’ tents and displays.

What Insiders Say:

“We had major problems figuring out where the L.A. bike race was going to be held. Keeping on top of all those details was frustrating. We were going to have it in a park, but then the equestrian club was annoyed because they didn’t want the bikes to ruin the course for their horse riding. So, we had to find a different course. There was a lot of faxing back and forth, contacting people, and setting up meetings so they could discuss where the actual site was going to be.”

Event Coordinator,
Sports Marketing Firm

Floater (Pro Sports League)

At most professional sports leagues and teams, the entry-level position available to recent college grads is called a floater. Floaters are essentially temporary office assistants. When a position in a particular department is vacated, a floater works in that division until the job is filled. The floater’s job is not very glamorous, consisting mostly of “go-fer” work. However, because floaters move from department to department they get to see how the team or league is run from the inside as well as meet many people along the way. Floaters usually work with the marketing, public relations, human resources, and ticket sales departments.

A floater’s responsibilities include:

  • Selling tickets and merchandise.
  • Administrative duties such as data entry, faxing, filing, and copying.
  • PR calls to reporters.
  • Preparation of game notes.
  • Sending out press releases.
  • Assisting with game presentation and organization, such as negotiating with the anthem singer.

What Insiders Say:

“Working as a floater is a fantastic way to start off because you’re doing different things every day. One day you’ll be in the Marketing Department and the next you’re in HR. Your main office is also with HR, so you’ll see all the jobs that go through there. After ten months of being a floater, I saw that there was a position as an assistant in the NFL films department. I applied and then I got it, and since then I guess I’ve been promoted three or four times. I’ve been pretty lucky, but I’ve also worked very hard to get where I am. “

Marketing Manager,
NFL

Marketing Representative (Sports Mktg. Division)

As a marketing representative for a sporting goods manufacturer, you’ll be called upon to do a wide variety of tasks, from keeping track of the athletes who endorse your company’s products, to grassroots market research. Marketing representatives need to be flexible and able to handle multiple tasks. Marketing representatives primarily work with athletes on college and pro teams, making sure they are supplied with the company’s product.

A marketing representative’s responsibilities include:

  • Selling and promoting the company’s products.
  • Market research.
  • Administrative tasks such as copying, filing, and faxing.
  • Acting as a liaison between the corporation and athletes who endorse the company’s products.
  • Taking call-in orders from athletes and shipping the product to them.
  • Attending trade shows.
  • Keeping track of athletes’ performance and product usage.

What Insiders Say:

“The work atmosphere here is fast-paced and energetic. There’s a sense of excitement when you walk into our office building. The people love what they do, and they have a passion for the business. But, there is a lot of change. You have to be able to adapt to new situations quickly if you want to work here. For someone coming right out of school, it can be overwhelming. But, it can be fun too. You have to be assertive, take time to understand the business, and get to know who’s who.”

Human Resources Staff Member,
Large Sports Equipment Corporation

PR Assistant (Sports Marketing Firm)

Most teams, leagues, sports merchandise manufacturers, and sports marketing firms have a PR department because public relations is a big part of sports marketing. In order for a sporting event to be successful, it must receive media attention, which is often generated through public relations.

As a public relations assistant you will work with the department head to draft press releases, pitch stories to journalists and editors, and maintain good relationships with members of the media. If you are working for a professional team, you may have to help direct activities in the press box on game night. Public relations assistants at sports marketing firms keep track of news coverage of clients and assemble clipping reports.

A public relations assistant’s responsibilities may include:

  • Writing and editing press releases.
  • Coordinating media coverage.
  • Pitching stories to news editors and journalists.
  • Maintain a clip file of news coverage.
  • Training volunteers who will interact with the public at sporting events.
  • Administrative duties such as filing and copying.
  • Answering media and public inquiries.
  • Directing press box activity.
  • Coordinating press conferences.
  • Developing media guides.

What Insiders Say:

“You get most of your training on the job. In my case, when I first started out here, another executive guided me. But, the work I do here is very similar to what I did in the PR agency I worked for. A lot of it is common sense. I was plunged into it very fast, and I started right away writing press releases, organizing interviews, and doing media drops. Now we have a support system, a PR agency, that helps us out during the events, but when I began we were doing most of the work ourselves.”

Manager of Marketing and Communications,
Sports and Entertainment Corporation

Alternate Routes

While sports marketing is a field few want to leave, there’s always a chance you might want to explore other professions after a few years in the industry. Where do you go now? Where can you apply the leadership, communication, and organizational skills that you have acquired?

Advertising

Like sports marketing, advertising focuses on the positioning and promotion of goods and services. Both fields represent important pieces of any company’s marketing mix, and sports marketers may actually work with advertising professionals on projects like corporate-sponsored events and athlete endorsement. Sports marketers are also familiar with much of the traditional which advertisers specialize in, such as television, radio, and print publications.

Business School

Sports marketing prepares you for business school in several ways. First, it provides you with valuable working knowledge of marketing, merchandising, sales, and media interaction. Secondly, because sports marketing is a people-oriented industry, it requires you to develop networking, negotiation, and problem solving skills that are necessary to be a good manager. All of these abilities are key to strong leadership in the business world.

Public Relations

Sports marketing and public relations share promotional techniques such as press releases, media guides, and special events planning. In fact, many sports marketing firms, as well as pro teams and leagues have public relations offices.

Product Marketing

Product marketing is another one of sports marketing’s “traditional business” parents and the two share many similarities. The ability to understand the personality of an athlete or game, position that athlete or game for the consumer, and then sell that athlete or game is what sports marketing is all about. This ability is one that can be easily applied to product marketing.

Sports Journalism

Your “insider” view of the sports world, written communication skills, and “go-getter” attitude will serve you well in journalism, as will your previous exposure to the sports atmosphere, terminology, players, and numerous games.

Getting Your Foot in the Door

Being able to present yourself in a favorable light in your resume, cover letter, and over the phone is essential. When examining resumes, recruiters value previous experience, interpersonal skills, and organizational abilities. Through the words you place on the page, they’ll assess your potential to excel in sports marketing, and see if you’ll make a good fit with their corporate culture. The following tips and examples will help you write a winning resume and cover letter that is customized for the sports marketing industry.

Landing Your First Job

Sports marketing is an industry experiencing steady growth. However, the relatively small number of entry-level jobs is highly sought after, because a number of universities offer programs in sports marketing and management?not to mention the fact that it’s fun to work in the sports world. Getting noticed can be a challenge.

Here are some suggestions on getting your foot in the door.

Network and Make Contacts

Networking is very important in sports marketing, because most jobs are never advertised. While it’s possible that you’ll find opportunities in sports marketing listed in the paper or on the Internet, such postings may be no more than tokens to satisfy company policy, when someone who knows someone at the firm is already being considered. It makes sense that professionals would be more interested in working with someone who comes highly recommended by a friend they trust, than in sifting through a host of unfamiliar applicants. The more people you know in the industry, the more likely you’ll be to get the inside scoop on the “hidden” jobs. You can make contacts through alumni meetings and dinners or by calling people listed in the alumni guides available at your school.

Send in Your Resume

After you’ve made some contacts, send them your resume and cover letter, even if there are no job openings at their companies. Timing can be just as important as qualifications, and if a position comes up that needs to be filled in a week, wouldn’t you want to be the one who gets it?

Use Email

Email is much faster and easier to send than snail mail, and can be particularly helpful if you are targeting many employers at once. Remember, however, the same rules apply to email as to traditional mail, including the need for accurate spelling, grammar, and a professional tone. Also, if you’re emailing a number of people asking for employment, don’t send a form letter or “cc” everyone. Be as personable and personal as you can without sacrificing professionalism.

Call

Don’t be afraid to call and follow up your resume submission, but be respectful of people’s schedules. Sports marketing professionals lead hectic lives and may not be able to get back to you immediately. As in any industry, while a carefully placed phone call may draw attention to your resume, and three in one day might hurt your chances of getting in the door.

Interview Tips

1. Bring a portfolio of your best work.

Your prospective employer will definitely want to take a look at what you’ve done before. But, what exactly goes into a sports marketing portfolio? Any work you’ve done as an intern in a sports-related company will be helpful. If you’ve helped plan an event, brochures, newsletters, and media clips from the tournament, game, race, or special appearance make good samples. Because sports marketing requires excellent writing and creative skills, any published pieces you have including news articles and press releases should be included as well. Lastly, if you have any academic work, from projects to papers that relate directly to sports marketing, you may want to have them in your portfolio. However, you should keep academic work to a minimum if you can.

2. Always carry multiple resume copies.

Because you never know what may happen during the course of an interview, you always want to have additional copies of your resume handy. You may have to interview with more than one person at the company, or if you originally faxed your resume, you may want to give your interviewer a clean copy.

3. Show your interpersonal communication skills.

Be personable and open. Interviewers, especially during second and third rounds, will assess whether or not they’d like to work with you. Show enthusiasm and confidence and let them know that you’re the right person for the job.

4. Always follow up with a ‘thank you’.
Write a thank-you note to the person or people with whom you spoke immediately after the interview. You should compose the letter in business format, print it on resume paper, and mail it the same day. Paying attention to tiny details like this one can make a big difference when a company has to decide between two evenly matched candidates.

Typical Sports Marketing Interview

Preparing for the interview, surviving the interview, and following up the interview are three of the most important parts of your job hunt. The following are some general tips to get you through each of these contingencies, based upon the insights of sports marketing industry pros.

Q: Why are you interested in sports marketing?

A: This question can be a tricky one to answer. Professionals do not want to hear about your undying love for all things athletic. First and foremost, they want to know that you have the capabilities of a good marketer. However, if you are unfamiliar with the sports that you’ll be marketing, you’ll be of little use to them. The key is to play up your marketing skills, while acknowledging that sports are important to you as well.

Q: What are your strengths and weaknesses?

A: This killer two-part question is asked in many different forms, in all industries. Honest answers and a good strategy are necessary to get through this one relatively unscathed. When presenting your strengths, be confident but modest. If you have a portfolio, let your work speak for itself. Provide explanation, but avoid boasting?over-confidence can be as damaging as no confidence at all. When talking about your weaknesses, put a positive spin on them. Mention traits that have both good and bad qualities. If you’re a talker, cite how you’re an excellent public speaker. If you’re frustrated easily, talk about the reasons for your frustration, for instance, your desire to see tasks done quickly and effectively.

Q: Why do you want to work at this company?

A: Answering this question satisfactorily requires pre-interview research and an idea of how your personal goals, achievements, and skills can mesh with the company. If the firm has a client you are particularly interested in working with, a department you like, or a certain individual whose achievements you admire, mention it. Other factors you may voice as reasons for choosing a company include management style, company culture, and work atmosphere. For instance, you may wish to work at Stopwatch Sports Marketing because it has a young staff and family-like work environment. Check out the experience Company Profiles for further information on specific sports marketing firms.

Q: Give an example of a time you had to work in an exceptionally hectic situation and describe how you dealt with it.

A: Because the sports marketing work atmosphere is high-speed, high-tension, and high-stakes, interviewers will often ask this question or one similar to it. Whatever difficult situation you choose to cite, remember to emphasize your organizational skills, you ability to work effectively and efficiently without supervision, and you dedication to meeting deadlines.

Q: Are you a team player or do you work better alone?

A: Sports marketing is an industry that requires a great deal of group work. Putting together a sporting event or managing the appearance of an athlete at a function necessitates the cooperation of many individuals. However, while you need to emphasize that you can operate as part of a team you need to also indicate that you’re responsible enough to work independently. Tasks like maintaining information databases, contacting potential sponsors, and pitching stories to the media you may be required to do solo.

Q: What are your career goals?

A: Keep in mind while you’re answering this question that many people in this field stay with their companies for extended periods of time. Saying you want to work your way up the ladder is more likely to be acceptable than saying you want to start your own firm by the time you’re 25. Temper ambitious dreams with realism, especially when answering similar questions such as, “Where do you see yourself in five years?”

Q: What sets you apart from the other people interviewing for this job?

A: To answer this particularly aggressive question, you not only need to describe your strengths and abilities, but also prove to the interviewer that they are unique to you. One way to handle this query is to provide specific examples of outstanding work either from internships or another job, perhaps an incident where you were forced to take charge of a situation. Modest confidence is the best attitude to have when responding to a question like this. Being modest, however, does not mean you have to be timid. Sports marketing is a field where the “go-getters” succeed, and you shouldn’t forget that. Just be sure not to go so far as to seem arrogant.

Q: Describe your work ethic.

A: Like many questions asked in job interviews, the true answer to this query will be determined not just by your vocal response but by the sum of impressions which the interviewer has collected during your meeting. You should, by all means, explain your drive and desire to successfully complete all projects assigned to you. However, your general enthusiasm and tolerance in answering such questions as, “Do you mind doing administrative work?” will weigh just as heavily.

Q: What previous experience do you have?

A: Your ability to cite an internship and/or related work here is a prerequisite to having a successful interview at a sports marketing firm. The more responsibility and the greater breadth of work you can describe will obviously improve your standing. Try to avoid exaggeration here, though. It can get you into serious trouble later.