The following guest contribution was written by Richard Pallarino (@rpallarino).
“When you’re there, make yourself indispensable”-Jason Belzer. That’s what my mentor and friend Jason Belzer said to me before I left for my internship with Beverly Hills Sports Council, this past summer.
I was headed to Los Angeles, CA with the goal of being the next biggest agent in baseball. At the age of 19, never being west of Pittsburgh, PA before, having completed two previous internships in the sports and entertainment industry, attending sports symposiums and making contacts, and constantly studying the MLB CBA, I would say that my dream of becoming a successful baseball agent was rapidly becoming a reality.
Beverly Hills Sports Council is one of the most valuable agencies in all of baseball, and it’s also one of the most employee-intimate agencies. Starting from the top: three elite partners heading the company, a cutting edge Public Relations Director, a marketing team that consisted of 3 ambitious, persistent, and innovative individuals, and a few down-to-earth, knowledgeable, and helpful recruiters.
With a client list that reads: Barry Bonds, George Brett, Rickey Henderson, John Franco, Trevor Hoffman, Tim Lincecum, and many others, I thought that the road to success was only getting easier.
The only thing that was getting easier was opportunity; opportunity to become successful. Just like most interns across the country, I thought that since I was in an elite agency, everyone would be knocking at my door and I can get anything I wanted within baseball, in this scenario.
That wasn’t the case. My internship lasted 10 weeks, and oh brother, did those 10 weeks fly by. I started on June 20th and arrived home in New York on August 24th.
My hours were 9 A.M.-5 P.M., Mondays-Fridays. Every morning, I would arrive between 8:35-8:50, with the intention of being one of the first in the office. I would stay past 5 P.M. one day each week. The rest of the days I would leave at 5 on the nose — what a mistake. Looking back on it, I was living in Los Angeles, CA with a total of three responsibilities: laundry, grocery shopping, and going to play basketball with some of the UCLA Football team…so why did I rush to get home?
A typical week would consist of researching companies for potential endorsement deals or autograph appearances for clients, work on our marketing presentations for our assigned player and cities, and assist with anything else needed.
I emphasize, “assist with anything else needed”, because it is code phrase for going to help others within other divisions of the company.
Up until August 13th, I only extended myself to the Marketing and Public Relations departments. You would think that with my desire to be an agent, I would look to help the agents out with their grunt work. Their doors were always open; I just didn’t take advantage of it.
The BHSC Director of Marketing may have literally been a life savior, without even knowing it. Her full intention of the internship program was for the interns to learn as much as possible. This was also the first year that the interns spoke to the agents one on one with the director’s help of scheduling an appointment for us to sit with them and ask them whatever questions we had.
August 13th was the day that my life changed, literally. I was scheduled to sit down with Dan Horwits, one of the partners in the agency. Before I went in, I spoke to the two interns next to me and asked them how their meetings went. They both responded by saying it was nerve-wracking and it lasted 15-25 minutes.
I went into Danny’s office with the thought of it only lasting 20 minutes. Well, it lasted for one hour and 20 minutes. He sat with me and answered every question I had and stayed after the eight hour workday, because we left after 5:30 P.M. Out of the entire conversation, one line really stuck out in my head, “You didn’t impress me.” He honestly said that to me after I asked him a question.
That night, I went home and created lists upon lists of anything to do with baseball, upcoming free agents, upcoming drafts, free agent comparables, lists of players and their agencies, etc.
I had seven workdays left at BHSC; I made sure to sit down and talk to every single person who received a paycheck from BHSC. Some conversations had very little to do with baseball, but it was the point of taking advice from everyone, because baseball is a business, and so is life.
Those seven workdays were the greatest days of my life. I created work for myself, extended my services to every agent and recruiter, and even extended my services to one of the interns. I didn’t stop working and it was one of the greatest feelings in the world. I left BHSC with knowledge on how to properly network, improved my communication skills, learned how to think differently, expanded my knowledge on the undermined aspects of baseball, and of course, the agency side of baseball.
My advice for the future or current interns reading this article, once you secure an internship, expand yourself to every single division within the company, make yourself known to every employee, be the first one in last one out, and ask tons of questions. In a nutshell, take the advice Jason Belzer gave to me – make yourself indispensable.