Major: Sports Management
Employed: Assistant, Baseball Operations, Tampa Bay Rays (Major League Baseball)
“Don’t spend time dwelling on your failures or the setbacks that will come along the way; be persistent and keep working hard or you’ll never get to where you want to be.”
Why did you decide to work in professional sports?
I played sports my entire life. While I realized I wouldn’t be able to play professionally, I also knew that I wouldn’t be happy if I wasn’t involved in sports in some capacity.
Describe your role and responsibilities with your organization?
My position mainly relates to our pro scouting efforts. I serve as a liaison to the front office for our scouts on the road, coordinating our coverage in the Major and Minor leagues. My days vary greatly depending on the time of year and our roster, but some of the things that I do include:
-Scouting and writing reports on Minor league players
-Assisting with trades and free agent signings
-Tracking international players in winter leagues
-Communicating with our pro scouts
-Researching various topics to improve our decision-making
What were the main steps you took to get your job?
Before joining the Rays, I worked for the York Revolution in the independent Atlantic League for three seasons. While there, I interned in Baseball Operations for one season and then became the Director of Baseball Operations for the last two years. That position allowed me to get really involved in many different facets of baseball operations – player development, scouting, international operations, budgeting, etc. – because the department was small and much of that was under my supervision.
During the same time, I also worked as an Associate Scout with the Phillies, and wrote for two SB Nation sites – Beyond the Box Score and Fake Teams – during my last year in York. The position with the Phillies allowed me to further develop my scouting skills and create some professional contacts outside of the Atlantic League. Writing enhanced my communication skills and gave me the opportunity to present original research to a large audience. I know that both of those things were important when I went through my interview process to join the Rays.
When I was entering the job market, it was important that I had demonstrated that I could play baseball while maintaining good grades and actively write with the Sports Information Department. I also did 5-10 informational interviews, both while in college and after I had already accepted the position in York, and two of those have turned out to be unbelievably valuable professional contacts.
What do you like most about your job?
I get to work at a professional baseball stadium! Honestly, working in the sports industry can be grueling and the hours are longer than you’ll find in many other fields. But the fact that I genuinely enjoy what I do most of the time easily offsets any of the negative aspects of my job.
What kind of individual would be best suited for your job, and why?
I honestly think any person can work in a position like this, as long as they have some aptitude and a real desire to do the work. You have to love – really love – a sport to want to work in a front office because the hours and pay are significantly different from what you’ll find in comparable roles outside of sports. Our office has people with economics, statistics, business, history, math, Latin, physics, and anthropology degrees, all with very different personalities, but we’ve all found ways to contribute to the organization.
What do you suggest to a student to give him/her an edge on the competition?
If you’re interested in getting into a front office position within the sports industry, there are plenty of things that you can do. Three surefire things that will pop on a resume are:
-Ability to communicate in a foreign language, specifically Spanish.
-Technical skills in statistical or computer programming software. Things like SQL, R, Python, Stata, Java, C++ are good programs to know.
-Writing. This is the easiest way to improve and show value to an organization. Find (or start) a blog/website and start writing about sports. Start writing your opinions on trades or free agent signings. Start doing and publishing original research. That will give you a portfolio of work to show teams how you think, how you communicate, and what you can do. More than 10 people in our front office wrote for outlets like Baseball America, Baseball Prospectus, ESPN, BtBS, or FanGraphs before starting here.
What was your interview process like?
What was your interview process like?
My interview process included two phone interviews, a written submission, and individual interviews with six different people in the organization. With other teams I had a similar number of interviews, but I often spoke to four or five people in a panel-type setting.
The questions I was asked included things about how I evaluate players and my thought process about baseball, my goals and interests within the game, and some general personality questions to gauge my fit within the organization.
What advice would you give a student wanting to pursue a career in your field?
Teams are looking for people that can take on responsibilities and contribute immediately. So, the best thing that someone can do if find a way to distinguish themselves – figure out what you can do that provides value and show teams how you’re able to help them. This advice is true for any profession, but especially if you are looking to get into the operations (player personnel, scouting, etc.) aspect of a sports team since it has become a highly competitive field.
Did you utilize Career Development in any way?
I absolutely utilized Career Development and I haven’t stopped just because I have graduated. Career Development staff helped me put together my first resume and cover letter, and given me feedback on essentially every single one that I’ve ever sent out. Staff also suggested that I apply for a job in the Atlantic League as well as suggesting some people for me to conduct informational interviews with as an undergrad.
Would you recommend Career Development to a student?
Yes. I understand going to Career Development doesn’t appeal to most people, but with the competition for jobs out there, any bit of help you can get in perfecting a resume, a cover letter, or prepping for an interview can be the difference between getting hired or not. As a free resource, it’s a great place to go if you’re looking for internships, jobs, or grad schools, or to get ideas if you don’t know what you’re looking for in the first place.
Please add anything else you feel is important for readers to know.
It takes persistence, hard work, luck, and a bit of a thick skin to succeed in the sports industry. I’ve been turned down or not heard back from more teams than I can count (including the Rays at one point), but fortunately I never let that discourage me. Once you realize that hearing “no” isn’t the end of the world, applying for positions becomes infinitely easier. Don’t spend time dwelling on your failures or the setbacks that will come along the way; be persistent and keep working hard or you’ll never get to where you want to be.