Throughout this year’s Winter Meetings in Orlando, four attendees of the PBEO Job Fair have agreed to keep a journal chronicling their employment-seeking experiences (meet them all HERE). In this installment, Ian Fontenot maintains some semblance of self-awareness amid a most over-stimulating environment.
Sunday marks the opening day of the 2013 Baseball Winter Meetings, or as emcee Rob Crain put it, “the first day of the rest of our lives”. Crain, the president of the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders, was nothing short of an outstanding host, seamlessly transitioning from speaker to speaker while keeping the 300-plus member crowd alert. I don’t think I’ve ever kept my attention on something as long as I did for the Business of Baseball Workshop. I fully anticipated being too eager to really grasp everything our speakers were saying, but it was quite the contrary. From the very beginning, Crain grabbed our attention with a story of his first Winter Meetings experience which involved a late night with his future wife, New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman, and David Wells’ phone number. Immediately, you could tell Crain was a relatable person as this was a story you’d expect to hear from a friend rather than a Triple-A club president. He also touched on something I hope to find here in Orlando: finding a mentor.
Our first speaker Baseball America’s Minor League Executive of the Year and Louisiana native (represent!), Martie Cordaro of the Omaha Storm Chasers. Cordaro brought up many subjects, such as things to ask potential employers and something I’ve studied for the past four years — building mutually beneficial relationships. The rest of the day was filled with speakers reminding us of the importance of networking, hard work, passion and taking risks. Aside from the afternoon panel discussion, which required interaction from the audience, MLB international baseball operations manager Giovanni Hernandez easily drew the most interest from attendees. I assume that was because lots of people, like myself, are chasing the dream of one day working in baseball operations and player development. The one speaker who touched home for me was Minor League Baseball president & CEO Pat O’Conner. The story of his dad’s reaction to his phone call about taking a low-paying internship in Vero Beach, Florida after graduation is basically how I see people reacting when I tell them how much money I expect to make after coming out of college with two degrees. I think it’s safe to say that O’Conner’s decision was ultimately a great choice. That being said, the most wildly entertaining speaker came last in Richmond Flying Squirrels vice president & COO Todd “Parney” Parnell. I think anyone in attendance can attest for how raw, yet passionate, Parney was. I could only hope to work for someone as fun as Parney. However, as informational as the day was, I was all too ready to see what possibilities this week had in store. I may have appeared calm on the outside, but inside, I felt like I was running in place, and as we were bombarded with information, my anxiety raced even faster.
Immediately following the speakers was the main attraction for most, the opening of the Job Postings Room. The picture I painted in my head was one of chaos and savage fighting to get to each posting, but it was actually quite calm aside from two guys getting very testy with each other over the fact that one of them was taking pictures of the postings, which was supposed to be forbidden. As much research as I’ve done, I honestly didn’t know what to expect as far as job availability. In all, I submitted my resume for 14 communications-related positions. And the waiting begins.
As the first night approached, I did the networking-responsible thing and hit the bars (which are not job seeker-friendly on the wallet). I was lucky enough to have a friend who interned with me in Vermont, Dave Van Gorder, attend the Meetings as well. This made my situation a tad bit more comfortable as we connected with several fellow job seekers, including one who was over 50 and had little to his name in the baseball world aside from passion. Apart from the networking, I have to admit that the highlight of my night was being only two feet away from Jim Leyland, who was visiting with new Detroit manager Brad Ausmus and members of the MLB Network staff. I had to fight the urge to introduce myself and/or ask for a picture, but I knew it wasn’t the right moment; I guess we’ll call that “self-awareness.” Hopefully Monday will bring more intriguing job postings and a few interviews, but I am looking most forward to reconnecting with my family from the Vermont Lake Monsters!