I know my sports, almost all of them, and I know them well. I could argue I know them as well, if not better than some men I meet. But, for some reason, I still often don’t feel like I’m taken seriously in my field. Here are some tips to make it through without the constant accusation of being in it for the athletes, or at least some tips that helped me make it this far.
1. Know your stuff
The only way people will take you seriously is if you know what you’re talking about. If you don’t understand something, it can’t hurt to ask, but this is definitely not a field to “fake it ’til you make it” because then you’re just the unknowledgeable they thought you were to begin with.
2. Never stop learning
Even if you know everything about the team, you can always learn more. There are constantly players, coaches and staff members moving in and out of every team and you have to always be following up and learning what you can. You wouldn’t want to meet someone new and make a fool of yourself, right? Right.
3. Try new things
When I started this academic year, I had no dreams of being a sports photographer after graduation. I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to take photos at 12/14 of Ohio State football this season, and I couldn’t be more grateful. I have photo credits to take with me for a lifetime, and they just might help me land a job.
4. Ignore the whistles
I would be lying if I said I haven’t been hit on by athletes, and that’s the harsh truth of this industry. I’ve been whistled at, sworn at, called countless names and been given phone numbers, but I ignore them. If coaches or media personal ever saw me acknowledge this, or even though I acknowledged it, my credibility would have flown right out the window.
5. Have fun
Yes, it’s work. Yes, it’s hard. But it’s also extremely fun. I’ve gotten sideline views of games that thousands of people pay big money to see. As hard as I work every single game, I still remember to enjoy it and always take a moment to appreciate how awesome my job is and how fun the stories are I have to share.
6. Meet as many people as you can
I have learned that in sports and journalism in general, breaking into the business after graduation is no easy feat. So I have no shame when it comes to introducing myself, the worst someone can do is say hello back and then never chat with me again, right? That wouldn’t be the worst thing to happen, at least I stuck my nose out, and who knows — maybe I could get a job from it.
7. It doesn’t hurt to ask
I have been fortunate enough to meet TONS of people in the industry, especially through working at Big Ten Network in digital media and production. I have met famous sports commentators, former athletes and coaches, and plenty of veterans in the business. I also have yet to meet someone who wouldn’t at least pass my info along to their boss or coworker. All they can say is no, and that’s not so bad.
8. Be willing to intern A LOT
I know everyone says you have to intern in college. But in journalism, you really do. I have yet to have a job interview ask for my G.P.A., but I have had them all ask me to elaborate on my intern experiences. I mean, being an intern is not ideal and not always the most fun, but sometimes there’s cool perks too. Also, I’m hoping that after years of interning, I can one say that I started from the bottom and now I’m here.
9. Dabble in all aspects of your field
Like I said earlier, I never saw myself doing sports photography, but I loved it. I also never saw myself working in digital media and TV production, but I love that, too. I started out writing for my school paper and had aspirations of being a sideline reporter one day. Now that I see all of the different aspects of this field, I have no idea what I truly want to do, but I’m okay with that.
10. Ignore the haters
I honestly can’t even remember how many people told me I could never make this my career. I can’t remember how many people looked at me with confusion when I answered “journalism” as my major, because supposedly it’s a dying field. If I would have listened to all the haters, I would currently be studying something I hate instead of following my passions. No, I won’t be handed a six figure career the day I get my diploma. I know I have a long way to go, but in my mind, there’s nowhere to go but up.