Unemployment has spread across the United States. For graduating college students, the job market is growing slimmer by the day and the country’s difficulty containing the coronavirus pandemic is not giving any signs of hope for the near future.
Working in sports the past few months has been a challenge, with leagues slowly resuming competition. Unfortunately, the resurgence of live sporting events has not protected people in the industry from losing their jobs or made it any easier for the unemployed to land jobs.
While some may ask “why this, why me, why now,” experts in the field and members of the Association for Women in Sports Media provided their best advice and encouragement to guide those facing uncertainty.
TAKE AN UNEXPECTED PATH
Entering the sports world already was tricky. In the time of COVID-19, many are facing a tough decision whether to leave the sports industry to seek employment elsewhere.
For Alaina Getzenburg, a former AWSM scholar and current Carolina Panthers beat writer for the Charlotte Observer, taking a different path helped lead her current job.
“When I was in college, I had a plan for my post-graduate life that did not happen at all,” Getzenburg said. “Deciding to move to New York City and work at CBS made me realize I was not fulfilled by the job I was doing and it led me to the job I have and love now.”
While students and recent graduates have had their internship or job offers rescinded, there are still ways to keep skills fresh and build their résumé.
In addition to learning new techniques, building more relationships in the industry is a crucial tool for success.
“Source building is a great skill to learn, reaching out to other people in the industry to ask questions and build connections,” Getzenburg said. “Building relationships is so important and it helped me figure out what I want to do.”
CONFIDENCE IS KEY
When one's eyes wander around a press box, it is not uncommon to see mostly suits and ties.
Former AWSM Scholar and current host for SEC on CBS Jamie Erdhal understands what it is like to be the only woman in the room and how women acting as allies brings a sense of comfort to the workplace.
“It makes me feel better when on the job if I see other women in the press box,” Erdhal said. “I can’t imagine what it was like early on because the more women there are, the more comfortable I am and feel that there is someone I can talk to.”
Women are constantly ridiculed and undermined in the sports industry. They’re often quizzed by those skeptical they can handle their jobs.
“I know that I do a great job in the work that I do and I do not have to rattle off a roster to prove to you that I can do my job,” Erhal said. “The truth is, that person writing or saying the mean comment could not do my job.”
Though it may seem easier said than done, confidence can help shut down criticism.
“What changed the game for me was having the confidence that I belong in this industry,” Erdhal said. “When you build confidence as you go, people view you differently.”
MENTAL HEALTH MATTERS
It can be easy for those who finally get opportunities in sports media to get caught up in work. The moments of intensity and passion provide a chance to help tell unique stories.
However, few see the panic spread across a press box when news breaks, the amount of coffee one may consume to keep up or the late nights spent finishing work.
Maddie Heaps, a former AWSM scholar and current media relations coordinator for San Diego State, stresses the importance of taking care of yourself while juggling a job, especially during a pandemic.
“I believe mental health is important and there is a need to do stuff for yourself such as exercising or reading a book or trying something new,” Heaps said. “I began turning off at night by not looking at work emails after a certain time. You can even program your phone to turn off apps at night.”
She suggests reaching out and creating bonds with successful women in the industry, adding more people in your corner.
“Women in this industry always want to help other women,” Heaps said. “It is about coming together and empowering one another. Never be afraid to reach out for help, advice or ask someone questions.”
The lack of job offers and effort required while trying to secure employment during a pandemic is never ideal. But branching out to a new path, diversifying your skillset and creating significant relationships may help ease the unpredictability of what is to come.