This week was one of those weeks in which I am incredibly happy at the opportunities that we have at this program that you don’t get at other programs. This week six other students, and myself traveled to the Winter Baseball Meetings in Nashville, Tennessee. It was an amazing time! While down there I also ran into three alumni and a professor attending the convention. Two of our alumni Chris Koller and Jabari Barnett were networking and finalizing scouting positions with MLB teams, and Sarah was with New Era, Inc. in the trade show. Our Professor Mike Medici was there hanging out and enjoying the festivities before heading back to Illinois and continuing to be a regional scout for the Toronto Blue Jays. While I was there I learned a few things:
- There are a lot of people trying to get into the baseball. However, with the NHL striking, many individuals from hockey were crossing over into baseball and trying to secure positions. Remember there are only five major sport franchises and when one goes on strike, the pool of applicants grows exponentially.
- Do not be afraid to go after what you want! Often with all these people applying for similar jobs, people will turn negative or become nervous when they apply. Self doubt will at some point enter into your mind, but you need to be upbeat and optimistic. You may not get the position or internship, but if you keep trying and networking new possibilities will open up.
- Don’t ever, ever, ever ask for autographs when looking for jobs! Some individuals at the event were looking for autographs from managers and players while trying to network or search for jobs….no, no, no, no, and NO!
- When you do network, network high, but not that high. Again, when networking at night, there were individuals who were trying to network and actively seeking out the big boys. In sports, especially baseball, there are unspoken rules on and off the field. One in baseball is that you must put in your time. I’m not saying that if you end up talking to Ken Williams (the GM of the White Sox’s) that you shouldn’t enjoy the conversation, but don’t hand him your card or resume. Be causal enjoy the situation and give them your card when/if they ask for it! (see #3)
- Sometimes the best learning is done when your listening. This year I did much more networking with individuals in different departments. Operations, ticketing, scouting, marketing, MLB international, all these divisions give a unique insight into the industry and simply by starting a conversation and listening you can learn a lot about the direction of the industry or insights that can help you in the future.
As this was my second Winter Meetings, I was excited to be given this opportunity. I had 4 interviews and am waiting to hear back from one team about an offer. It also doesn’t hurt that while at the bar I had Bruce Bochy to the right or me, Ken Williams to the left, and John Kruk right behind me. I have to say at that moment I felt like a big leaguer. If only my paycheck would match theirs I would be set!
Until Next Time,
Brent Gray, MSA Graduate Assistant