The following guest contribution was written by Richard Pallarino (@rpallarino).
What’s the best way to get your foot in the door? Getting an internship. You can’t be picky either. If you want to have a career as a baseball agent and the only opportunity you receive is an internship in a football agency, then you take it.
The path that took me to getting my first internship included: years of waiting, cold-calling, and cold-e-mailing.
Last November, I received my first internship and it was with Jason Belzer of GAME, Inc. He then set me up with an internship as an assistant at Wilhelmina Models in the Artist Management division. This summer, I interned at Beverly Hills Sports Council. I guess the third time is the charm; I landed an internship in the field that I want to make a career out of.
I first realized that I wanted to be in the industry as a baseball agent at the age of 15. No, it wasn’t because of Ari Gold, Jerry Maguire, or even Arliss Michaels. It was due to a personal experience.
I had no idea where to begin, so I just started to search “sports agent” on the internet. And of course a variety of different answers came up. None of them were exactly the same, but some had facts that made sense. The first result that appears when “sports agent” is searched on Google is SportsAgentBlog.com, which is exactly where I started.
I browsed through the website and found it extremely helpful — especially the interview section of where experienced agents gave their honest opinions. Then I came across a few agencies and did some research on them — which clients they represented, what services they offered, management team, etc.
I got on the phone and started making cold calls. I introduced myself to the secretaries and asked if they would answer some questions I had or point me in the right direction. The amount of hang ups I received was astronomical. I’d literally be on the phone for 8-10 seconds and then hear the phone slam in my ear. That was a great learning experience (I’ll get to that later).
From the phone calls to e-mails and then constant research. Researching the latest movements in the industry, researching collective bargaining agreements, researching top agents, and an infinite amount of other information pertaining to the industry.
In September of my freshman year in college, I came across a sports symposium notice in the New York City area on SportsAgentBlog.com. It was held at the New York Law School in downtown Manhattan. I registered for that right away. At the symposium there were panels about different topics in sports: whether college athletes should be paid amongst other topics. That’s where I made my first contacts in the sports industry. It was held at the New York Law School in downtown Manhattan.
I kept in contact with some of the contacts I made that day and then boom. My first internship came exactly a little over a year after the symposium. I gained such valuable experience interning for Jason Belzer. I learned what goes into some contracts, how to market his clients, what leverage actually meant, and developed my writing skills.
During my internships, the one thing I really worked on the most was marketing myself. Every day I would make lists of my pros and cons and work on moving the cons to the pros side. I would update my resume whenever something important happened. I’d write to agencies to get their opinions on certain topics.
This past spring, before Beverly Hills Sports Council, I applied for internships for the summer. I applied for a grand total of 88 internships. I received 2 offers to intern out of 88 applications! That is a terrible percentage, but that is the actuality of the business.
When I mentioned earlier that it was a great learning experience when I had the phone hung up in my ear, this is what I was referring to. This business is a “no” business. There aren’t many times you will hear “yes”. So, if a career in the sports and entertainment field is what you’re thinking of, be prepared to hear the word “no”.
A career in the Sports and Entertainment industry is evidently a dream job for many and a reality for a select few.