Winter Meetings Job Seeker Journals: Darius Thigpen, December 7, 2014

Throughout this year’s Winter Meetings in San Diego, four attendees of the PBEO Job Fair have agreed to keep a journal chronicling their employment-seeking experiences (meet them all HERE.). In this, his first installment, Darius Thigpen details how Sunday was a day that started off great and got even greater. 


Day One at the Winter Meetings: The Business in Baseball Workshop

“Today is the first day of the rest of your life… Don’t screw it up,” – Rob Crain (a.k.a the greatest emcee you could possibly hope for).

At 8.a.m., the tension within Ballroom 20 of the San Diego Convention Center was so thick that you could cut it with a knife. Then in comes the brash, Bostonian awesomeness that is the president and general manager of the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders. Talk about a wake-up call. Crain displayed so much energy and such a relaxed attitude that it set the tone for a great, productive day at the Professional Baseball Employment Opportunities Job Fair.

Now, for me, I was having a great day before knowledge was dropped on us. If you’re a college football fan, then all I have to say is THE Ohio State University and you know why Sunday was great for me.

Even without the thrill from the Buckeyes I was going to have a great day. The 11 speakers, two panels (of 10 total participants) and Crain made for an intriguing day.

The best thing for people in our shoes is to learn from people with jobs in the field we’re pursuing, especially from those at a high level in the industry. It’s that much more encouraging when nearly every one of the speakers could relate to us since they were once in our shoes.

The biggest takeaways, for me, are captured in five words: personality, self, sales, money and passion.

As an applicant and eventual new hire it’s critical for us to show what we’re about. Many of the speakers said they want to hire someone who they would like to be around 100 hours a week. In case you didn’t know, working in baseball entails long hours and little time off.

“Sell yourself without selling yourself.” – Robert Ford, Radio Play-By-Play, Houston Astros.

Almost every speaker stressed being yourself, while still being professional, to show that you can be trusted and are hirable. Almost everyone touched on the fact that those in hiring positions want to see what an applicant is really like and how they would handle pressure situations.

“Who are you?” – both Carol Melendez Clark of Devry and Todd “Parney” Parnell, Vice President and COO of the Richmond Flying Squirrels.

Clark’s advice was to write down your goals for the next five years, 10 years and even 15 years. From talking to other job seekers many of us know we want to work in baseball, but aren’t exactly sure in what capacity. Everyone who is hiring wants to see what talents we have, how we can contribute and what our aspirations are. Your resume will show your skill and the person hiring determines our worth to the organization based on our resumes. Only we can figure out and articulate our aspirations.

Parnell advised to think of three words that you would use in an interview to describe yourself. For instance, mine are loving, faithful and dedicated.

If you don’t know what your goals are yet, take some time to figure it out. Also realize that many people have a plan initially and end up doing something else. This was another theme of Sunday’s speakers.

Working in sales is a big part of these jobs. Sorry. Selling a product isn’t everyone’s idea of a rewarding career. But if “sales” is convincing other people how awesome baseball is and that they should invest in your team, plus you love baseball, is it really all that bad?

Money will be an issue. Since most of these jobs are internships, part-time and seasonal we’re not making a ton of money. If you want to work in sports to make Mike Trout money you are in for a rude awakening.

You have to have a passion for this career path because you will work long hours and holidays and not have a ton of off days. I worked with the Columbus Clippers as a broadcast intern this summer. We had something like 14 days without baseball all season, five due to awful weather (which were made up), meaning we had about 144 games in 153 days.

Quick side note, anyone who is looking into broadcasting, play-by-play, reporting or anything related to radio or television should find some time after 4:30 p.m. today (Monday) to head to the Odysea Lounge at the Hilton Bayfront (next to the Convention Center). There will be a meet-up for the Sportscaster’s Talent Agency of America. I know I don’t want to miss that.

This is going to be a great week and many people will make connections that will not just get them a job, but will lead to lifelong relationships. I’m looking forward to it.

As Crain said in conclusion Sunday, “Today is the beginning of the rest of your life. Don’t be stupid.”

Look carefully, as not one but two Vines are linked to within the above Tweet. The next post from Darius, as well as posts from his three Job Seeker Journal compatriots, will appear on Tuesday.

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