Job seekers often ask for tips on breaking into the Olympic Movement and how it might be different than other sports marketing roles. I have been fortunate to work more than 20 years in Olympic sports and it all started with an internship at USA Swimming in 1990.
All the same general best practices of job searching apply within the Olympic sports world, but there are a few specific things that are unique to the Olympic Movement. Below are some tips catered to those looking for that entry-level position:
- USOC Internship program – this is one of the best internship programs in the country (yes, I am bias as an alum). It offers a modest stipend, plus room & board right at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs. You won’t get rich, but you won’t lose money either. It has 20+ internships per semester across various fields and organizations. Tip: It gets a flood of resumes for the Summer semester, so try for the Spring or Fall to increase your odds. http://www.teamusa.org/Careers/Internship-Program.aspx
- USOC Job Board – this is another great resource for jobs within the U.S. Olympic family, including the U.S. Olympic Committee and the National Governing Bodies (NGB). Tip: The USOC is analogous to the NCAA in the Olympic sports world. Each NGB is analogous to NCAA member schools (ex. University of Arkansas, Stanford, Harvard, etc.). The NGBs work under the USOC umbrella, but operate as separate businesses. Applying at one organization (USOC or NGB) means you have applied in one organization only. http://www.teamusa.org/jobs
- TeamWorkOnline – this site is one of the best for sports jobs and internships and one of the staples in the industry. Many NGBs also post jobs here. www.teamworkonline.com
- NGB Web Sites – think of these sites as mining for career gold. It isn’t easy to find jobs and when you do, it is likely not many others found it outside those who have a direct connection to the sport. This is a sport in itself to uncover these gems, but they are there. Sometimes. The USOC’s web site at teamusa.org has a good nav at the top to access the different NGB sites.
- Around the Rings – this site sends a weekly “Golden Opportunities” email on Sunday with a list of jobs within the international Olympic community. It may require a subscription for this service. www.aroundtherings.com
- LinkedIn – this is a great social media network to be a part of in general. NGBs are starting to use it to list jobs a bit more, but this is still very early for this site and Olympic jobs. A simple search of “executive recruiters” or similar terms will bring up key people in the industry however these recruiters are primarily focused on more mid-to-senior-level positions.
- Networking – this may sound obvious, but many jobs within the Olympic Movement don’t even open publicly. Unless you are beating the streets with networking, you are only going to see the tip of the iceberg of opportunities. As an employer, sometimes these job sites send too many resumes our way, so it’s easier and more efficient to network amongst ourselves if we know good people.
- The Olympic sports world is a small, tight-knit community and we know many of the folks involved. It’s why they call it the Olympic Family! So, we do talk and socialize with each other so networking remains a valuable tool.
- Volunteer opportunities are endless with working in the office, events and functions. It’s a great way to meet people also.
- Informational interviews – this is one of the most helpful and accommodating industries for informational interviews. Nine times out of 10 people are going to agree to do these for you if you ask (schedules permitting).
Parting Advice … I have had the good fortune to work at USA Swimming (aka the day job), the U.S. Olympic Committee, Warner Bros., Purdue University and the University of Arkansas (undergrad) in my sports & entertainment career. In only ONE instance did I throw my resume in a pile and get the job. Every other opportunity has come through networking and connections.
Good luck with your search!