If you’re considering a job in sports for your co-op term and, like me, you skipped gym in high school to go read in the library, this article is for you.
A year ago, if someone had come up to me and told me that I would land a gig with the Canadian Football League for my first co-op job, I would have laughed in their face and walked away. Fast forward a year later, Geroy Simon sits in an office down the hall from me and I find myself naming the BC Lions’ starting lineup in emails by heart.
When I applied to be the Lions’ new Corporate Partnerships Associate in the Fall of 2015, I did so because I felt that the job description resonated with my interests and abilities. Design skills? Check. Writing and editing skills? Check. Organized and good with instructions? Double check. I had it in the bag. “This looks great,” I thought. “I get to stay in my comfort zone doing what I’m comfortable with.” Boy was I wrong. In fact, I have never been more out of my comfort zone in my life than I was during my time with the Lions—and I have never been more grateful for it.
I quickly learned that you don’t have to be in familiar territories to gain a rewarding experience out of a job. For me, saying ‘yes’ to this job was the perfect stepping stone towards adulthood. That’s the beauty of this industry—there’s something in it for everyone, and I urge you to have an open mind and find out what it can do for you.
Here are some do’s and dont’s to help make that transition easier for you.
DO Believe In Yourself
When you’re first starting out, it is completely normal to feel self-conscious, especially if you don’t know a lot about the industry. I know I did. From day one, I felt like a complete fish out of water surrounded by people who have chosen to make football their lives. And naturally, a way of coping was to get on the Internet and research everything there is to know about the Lions and Canadian football, which in hindsight I may have gone overboard with. While getting yourself up to speed is definitely necessary, don’t preoccupy yourself with your insecurities, and just believe that you have a lot to offer even if you lack the football knowledge. You were hired for a reason. Over time, your employer just might notice your strengths and use it to the company’s advantage. It happened to me. I was given the opportunity to pitch and design an in-stadium advertising idea to a sponsor, which they ended up loving and using. It went up on the jumbotron and everything!
DO Learn On the Go
Just because you’re out of school doesn’t mean you get to stop learning. I was once asked to take photos for a golf tournament at the last second because the official photographer couldn’t make it. I had very little experience with sports photography, so I watched endless amounts of Youtube videos and practiced on my poor roommate, who I made pace back and forth down the living room while I practiced my camera skills. The day of the event, I completely surprised myself as the pictures turned out more than alright; some were even selected to be on the company’s website! That’s one more skill to add to the resume.
DON’T Take Things Too Personally (Ever)
You may have spent hours and hours drafting up a beautiful proposal for a prospective sponsor, only to have the sponsor cancel and the entire thing dropped. That’s just the nature of the industry—it is about as fast-paced as it gets—and it has nothing to do with you or the fact that you did a bad job. So give yourself a pat on the back and try not to get too attached to anything. Remind yourself when you’re having a bad day that everything is temporary, and come to work the next day knowing that it’s a new day. On a good day, humble yourself and keep in mind in the back of your head that good times and bad times come hand in hand. Train yourself to do this and I promise you’ll be able to accomplish anything.
DON’T Be Afraid to Ask Questions
It can be difficult to admit when you don’t know something. I mean, what if you’re asking a question that’s completely obvious? But if I’ve learned anything from my 8 months with the Lions, it’s that this is a small price to pay for a mistake that can cost the company. Remember that your colleagues never expect you to know everything and will generally understand that you may need a hand or two once in a while.
DO Remember to Have a Good Time
At the end of the day, know that you have a pretty cool job. And really, how can you complain when your office on a Saturday looks like this: