During next week’s Baseball Winter Meetings in San Diego, California, four intrepid attendees of the annual PBEO (Professional Baseball Employment Opportunities) Job Fair will chronicle their employment-seeking experiences in a series of guest posts. Meet them all HERE. This marks the third season in which I have hosted “Job Seeker Journals” on this blog, and in advance of next week’s posts I thought that now would be a good time to hear from those who have trod down this road before. This post features career (and life) updates from three of 2012’s Job-Seeker Journal writers; click on their names to see all of the posts that they have written.
Meanwhile, a post featuring 2013’s writers can be found HERE.
Alright, buckle up: Here comes your annual installment of “Where is Clint Belau now?” In 2014, my second year with the Albuquerque Isotopes, I transitioned from stadium operations to field operations. Yes, I DO still take a moment or two (or considerably more) out of each day to stop and smell the proverbial roses. If I’m allowed to throw in a boastful moment, I am the assistant to the unanimously-selected “2014 Pacific Coast League Sports Turf Manager of the Year” Casey Griffin, so I am literally learning from the best. It was a different kind of pride that I felt this year, being able to prepare a field that players, managers and umpires considered the best, and one that left me feeling more fulfilled. It was a “just when you think things couldn’t possibly get better…” season, and it certainly has. I am living my dream on a daily basis.
As for the significance of the Job Fair? I would not be where I am without it, for real. The Job Fair is where I interviewed for my Isotopes internship. It’s where I listened to seasoned veterans of the business say things that made me question if I was making the right choice by getting into baseball as a career. It’s where I immediately answered those questions with “Absolutely!” It’s where my network of baseball people first began developing. It’s where I built momentum, gained valuable knowledge, and got my baseball nerd on for four days straight. It’s the first time a career in this incredible game felt like a real possibility to me. It was a chance that I definitely had to take. If you are hoping for a career in baseball, then I strongly recommend that you do the same.
I took a year-round internship with the Indianapolis Indians after the 2012 Winter Meetings, as a web design assistant.
My time with the Indians was the best career decision that I have ever made. I got to spend every day within what is my opinion the best Minor League Baseball organization in the country. On top of an amazing facility, I was fortunate enough to learn a lot, meet some people who are now my best friends and, perhaps most importantly, establish my acting career.
I left my internship with the Indians a few weeks early because I accepted a full-time position with the Adirondack Phantoms of the American Hockey League. I spent the 2013-14 season with the Phantoms as their director of game operations & marketing, overseeing their game presentation, promotions, graphic design and other marketing duties. I left the baseball season and had about a two-week “off season” before the hockey season started.
When I went to Nashville for the Job Fair, I had already secured an internship with the Indians and had several interviews lined up for other positions. So, it could be said that the Winter Meetings did not benefit me much. However, physically being there I think allowed me to make the already difficult decisions easier. Being in a room and having access to hundreds of front office employees is a huge benefit that you can’t get unless you’re physically there.
I enjoyed my time so much in Indianapolis that I wanted to get back to the city. I recently left the sports industry to take a marketing specialist position with Elements Financial. Although I took a step away from the sports world, I wouldn’t be where I am if it wasn’t for the Winter Meetings.
I had a great experience at the 2012 Job Fair. But, looking back, it feels like a missed opportunity. My fumbles and feelings on the event were well documented, but I didn’t leave empty-handed. A short time thereafter I was offered a seasonal sales position with a team in California, but decided to turn it down to take a marketing position with an advertising firm located back in Buffalo. Two years later, I’m no longer there and have a better perspective on my career and where I’d like to go with it.
The key, though, is staying in the game however you can. I’m in my second season with the Buffalo Bills, spending 2013 as a game day service representative in the ticket office before getting moved to premium services this season. I spend game days helping guests, answering questions and addressing issues in the premium club areas.
I’ve also helped co-found the Buffalo Soccer Council, an advocacy group dedicated to growing soccer in Western New York, with the goal of helping bring a professional soccer team to Buffalo. It’s been a great learning experience, starting a company and building it from the ground up.
But I really do miss Minor League Baseball, and I’m still looking for an opportunity that can be sustainable. I’m not sure that this year’s PBEO Job Fair would’ve been worth the trip as far as job seeking goes (seems more like resume collecting for teams), but each Winter Meetings provides at least a very memorable week. I’m hoping to catch on somewhere that will give me the opportunity to go back, as a professional instead of as a job seeker. If not, there’s always next year.
Thanks to Clint, Chris and Erik for sharing their perspectives. Stay tuned on Monday for the first installments from the 2014’s crop of Winter Meetings job seeking journal writers.
Throughout the 2012 Baseball Winter Meetings in Nashville, four attendees of the PBEO Job Fair kept a journal chronicling their employment seeking experiences. (Meet them all HERE). This endeavor will be repeated at this year’s Winter Meetings in Orlando; 2013’s four Job Seekers will be introduced in an MiLB.com feature on Friday and then chronicle their experience throughout the next week (and, perhaps, beyond).
But first, an update from one of 2012’s quartet. Clint Belau recently got in touch with this guest post, in which he writes about his first season working in professional baseball (as a stadium operations intern for the Albuquerque Isotopes). Last year I described Clint as “irrepressibly optimistic” — as you’ll soon see, those words continue to be a good descriptor of his life outlook.
When last we left off, I was a 35-year-old former musician, set to begin an eight month internship in a place I’ve never been, for an organization I was completely unfamiliar with, on a journey to pursue a career path I was hoping would be the one I could honestly attest to loving. Wow, when I put it that way, it sounds ultra-promising!
However, if you know anything about me (which most of you don’t, but for the sake of this sentence, I’d ask that you pretend to), you know that I’m not deterred by less than favorable odds. But realistically, what did I think would happen? That I would come to Albuquerque, immediately get along with every person in the organization, truly love every minute of the season (yes, even the 7:00 a.m. hot dog rolling sessions…I’m a sucker for assembly line situations), and develop such fantastic relationships with game day staff, fans and vendors that, after a 16 hour “work” day, I’d voluntarily stay longer simply because I enjoy the environment so much? That I would work hard enough that the organization would feel comfortable offering me a full time job that I’m mildly qualified for, and perhaps most importantly, I would spend a small portion of every single day smiling uncontrollably like a lunatic as I ponder my good fortune? Yeah, let me know how that works out pal.
Well, that’s exactly how it turned out. I spent the season as a stadium operations intern. Did I treat it like an internship? Absolutely not. From the second I set foot in that stadium, I made it my mission to weave myself into the fabric of the organization, to show them how much I wanted to be a part of it, to do everything and anything I could to represent the organization in a positive manner, to contribute to creating a valuable environment in which fans could experience everything this incredible game has to offer, and to do it all while exuding a contagious amount of joy. Alright, now I’m just starting to sound weird, but you get where I’m going with this. As a general statement, things are going well.
So now I’ll attempt to bring this all back to the point of Mr. Hill’s experiment: to take four people who are trying to kickstart their respective careers in baseball by attending the PBEO Job Fair, follow them through their week, and see where it takes them. If I have some sort of semi-educated advice for job seekers, it would be to, above all else, stay positive. You’re about to enter(or have already entered) a world of extreme competition. If you’re not passionate about it, I suggest you do something else. This world will require much more than you probably think it will. This isn’t a career that you leave at your desk after eight hours. If you do not truly love it, you will most likely grow to resent it. All of those statements are examples of what you’re about to hear when you attend the Winter Meetings, and more specifically, the Business of Baseball workshop. I know because I heard them less than a year ago. As I listened to them, I thought “it seems like they’re trying to scare us out of the industry.” In fact, it’s not a scare tactic, it’s a proper warning. However, if you’re really as passionate about baseball as you think you are, it will be an incredibly rewarding experience. For me, to be able to spend every day at the ballpark, to be surrounded by the game, to see families sharing the experience of it all, to witness the smile on a child’s face when they catch a foul ball, to know that on any given game day, you have the opportunity to help someone appreciate the game you love so much in a whole new way…that cannot be beat. I’m happy to say that a year later, I truly love being in baseball even more than my “irrepressibly optimistic” personality believed I could.
The value of attending the PBEO Job Fair is based on opening your eyes to what you’re dealing with. The advice from seasoned veterans comes at you fast and furious. The employment opportunities are high in volume, yet seemingly low in comparison to the amount of potential applicants. I can be extremely wordy at times, but if I’m boiling it down to a three word bit of advice that I’ve received numerous times from a good friend of mine, it would be this…do your best.
And there you have it, straight from the operations intern-turned-assistant director of field operations’ mouth. 2013’s series of Job Seeking Journal posts will begin on Monday, as will myriad other dispatches, Tweets, and Vine videos from Orlando’s Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort. In short, it’ll be another year of unparalleled Winter Meetings coverage. (And, yes, it truly is unparalleled — no one else provides such in-depth accounts of the non-Hot Stove perspective!)
While it seemed that this serialized blogging saga had concluded, this turned out to emphatically NOT be the case. Clint Belau, the self-described “favorite” of the four job seekers, is no longer Birmingham-bound and in this post he explains why his 2013 plans now involve a certain PCL juggernaut.
Read Clint’s other entries HERE.
A Change of Plans
Remember me? It’s your favorite (ok, that seems a bit vain, but let’s just proceed as if it were true) PBEO Job Fair attendee Clint Belau! After a Christmas vacation back to Wisconsin — where I witnessed over two feet of snow falling and ate enough food to last me through spring — I’m back with an update.
When I last checked in, I hadn’t heard back from either of the teams that interviewed me in Nashville. That surprised me, considering I felt both interviews had gone extremely well. However, it turned out that my Nashville trip was all gravy on the proverbial mashed potatoes as I had already received an offer from the Birmingham Barons the day before I left for the Winter Meetings. Well, during my vacation, the gravy got whole lot thicker (I’m 93.8% sure that reference doesn’t make sense, but at the moment, I’ve managed to confuse myself, and don’t remember where I was going with the whole mashed potatoes thing).
Nearly two weeks after the Winter Meetings, I received an email from one team that had interviewed me and a phone call from the other…on the same day! The purpose of both was to say that they really liked me, and wanted to offer me a position! So it turns out I’m not crazy, and those interviews in Nashville actually did go as well as I had thought! Here I was, on what was going to be simply a celebratory trip home, mentally preparing for the drive to Alabama, and I now had two more job offers to ponder! After a couple drinks to settle the nerves and some weighing of pros/cons, I had a decision to make.
Was I suspicious that each of these teams had run through their list of first picks, been turned down, and were now perusing their list of backup candidates? Absolutely. If they liked me so much, how come I didn’t get a call back for two weeks? Surprisingly, I gathered up enough courage to pose that question when I spoke with both teams. In each case, the answer I received left me feeling quite sure that I was indeed atop both of their respective lists.
After considering my options (and a phone call to a world famous blogger who shall remain nameless), I have decided that the best fit for me would be in stadium operations with the Albuquerque Isotopes.
The Isotopes are the Triple-A affiliate of the Dodgers. Being that I’m currently living in Phoenix, proximity, as well as level of baseball, comfortability with the team’s representatives, and a personal reason or two, all played a part in my decision. (And for those of you who are wondering, no, the fact that their team name is an homage to The Simpsons was not one of those personal reasons.) So in a few weeks, it’s off to Albuquerque I go, to continue this journey toward a career in baseball. Feel free to follow my escapades on Twitter (@clintbelau), where I’ll be rambling about the most attractive features Albuquerque has to offer, as well as offering my 140 character opinion on the latest Taco Bell commercial, which angers me by insinuating that somehow, bringing a 10 pack of crunchy tacos to a party (and consequently spilling lettuce and cheese all over your friend’s apartment) is somehow cooler than bringing a cheese and cracker platter.
Now that it’s all said and done, Clint Belau (now gainfully employed by the Birmingham Barons) offers his final thoughts on the whole endeavor. Follow Clint on Twitter @clintbelau, and read his other entries here:
THE VALUE OF THE EXPERIENCE
Now that I’m a few days separated from the whirlwind that was the Winter Meetings, I feel comfortable stating that I’ve officially come down from the high, and can state my opinion of the experience in 100% honesty. So get ready folks, I’m not pulling any punches. (Not that I have any punches to throw, but rest assured, if I did, I would throw them…cause this here is real!)
As someone who’s just beginning my journey in this industry, the single most notable observation to point out is just how much everyone seems to extend their figurative hand. Obviously, this is a statement that has the potential to change in the future, but based on first impression alone, it really seems to stand out. From the speakers at our workshop, to the occasional visitor in the work room, to the general conversations in the hallway, anyone who is a veteran in the industry seems to make themselves more than available to give advice and share their story. It’s a matter of approaching them, which as someone trying to break in, is not always as easy as it would seem. Just walking up and saying hi to someone who you watch on tv every day, or who’s articles you read on a consistent basis, or who you follow on Twitter and reply to, then nervously wait for the day when they reply back to you, is no small feat. Especially during a week where you fully realize how busy they might be, professionally keeping track of all of the action. However, if you can get over that initial fear, these are some of the nicest, most down to Earth people you’ll ever find. The idea that I’m joining an industry full of people like this is incredibly exciting.
Admittedly, I came to the Winter Meetings looking at this a little more through the eyes of a lifetime baseball obsessor, rather than through the eyes of a first time job seeker. When you’ve spent 30 years studying every stat, watching as many games as humanly possible, and constantly researching any off season action you can, it’s impossible to suppress that part of your being. That portion of my brain had perhaps the best week of its life. The other part of my brain, the part that was anxious to begin a new career, hopeful of what was to come, yet fearful of it being a total failure, was pleasantly surprised. This wasn’t the rat race one might have anticipated. More so, it seemed to be a gathering of friends, new and old, working towards a common goal. While the actual opportunities that were available via the job fair might have been a bit exaggerated, the opportunities that you could potentially create for yourself seemed infinite. It’s all a matter of putting yourself in the right position. And the Winter Meetings certainly seem to be that right position.
Now there is still that underlying element to this whole story, which is my age (35). In my personal experience, age seems to be far less important than enthusiasm. Sure, I’m coming at this from a bit of a different angle than most, but everyone has a different path. And in an arena such as this, it’s about turning your potential negatives into a positive. You have to figure out what separates you from the rest, and accentuate that. Personally, having a mixed bag of tricks experience-wise is most likely mine. My path to this point has given me the opportunity to amass a variety of skills (read: pursuing a career in stand up/music did not pay the bills, so I’ve been forced to have a lot of “normal” jobs). To be able to now apply that set of skills towards contributing to an organization’s success is incredibly exciting.
I’ve mentioned it before, but it bears repeating: I believe life is about experiences. I also believe that the experience of a ballpark can create a very unique impact on people’s lives. To dedicate myself to helping create that potential impact on a daily basis, is something that simply saying I’m looking forward to, is not nearly enough. This is the one game I love, and for my life to be dedicated to providing fans the opportunity to enjoy it as much as I have, is what the term “rewarding career” is all about. This isn’t a career I’m pursuing because I think it’s cool, or because I want to hang out with players and have front row seats to games. This is a career I am pursuing because it is the one way that I feel I can truly help impact the lives of others in a positive manner. Alright — unsolicited, overly dramatic monologue about my inner feelings concluded.
The reason for this article was to document our experience at the Winter Meetings, and more so, the PBEO Job Fair, as a first time job seeker. After gaining some distance from the experience, my feelings have not changed. If you are looking to break into the industry, this is an event that you simply must attend. It was in incredible networking opportunity, and the job fair did provide a plethora of potential jobs. It was a fantastic way to hone interview skills, get your name out there, and develop a network within the industry. It is an experience that will be paramount to my success.
Stay tuned for the final thoughts — and, more importantly, the final job decisions, of the other three job seekers.
Throughout this year’s Baseball Winter Meetings in Nashville, 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, Clint Belau writes about remaining optimistic amidst an atmosphere of indifference.
He then drops a bombshell, one that puts everything that had come before in a new light. Read on!
Wednesday, 12/5/12 — SUNSHINE AND RAINBOWS
On a morning where I probably should have been discouraged about a lack of interview action, the waltz over was magnificent. Everything seemed to be a little extra fantastic today — the sun was shining brighter; the breeze more pleasant. I saw couples lovingly walking hand in hand (fine, it was only two couples, but that technically requires the plural use of the word). Along the way, I bumped into a Michiganite (I’m 92.7% sure Michiganite is not the correct term for someone from Michigan, but at this moment, I’m too lazy to Google it), and had a great chat. Coincidentally, it was the second day in a row that I bumped into a Michinganite (come on CB, you’re better than this) on the walk over. As I entered the Opryland Hotel, I walked past a dozen writers that I follow on Twitter. Yep, re-confirmed: this week is still awesome.
(follow Clint on Twitter: @ClintBelau)
When I arrived in the posting room for my morning check, there wasn’t much for me. In fact, there was nothing…again…but who cares? By this point, I was a little bit over the process. I had checked the posting room probably thirty times in the past three days, and it had yielded two interviews. It had become somewhat apparent that this wasn’t working for me. Admittedly, it was partially my fault, given that I hadn’t saturated the resume boxes applying for anything and everything. However, I did apply for every job I considered myself a reasonable candidate for (27 total, if you’re keeping track), and it was relatively obvious that a 35-year old with no four-year degree and a mixed bag of tricks experience-wise wasn’t what the majority of the teams are looking for. If my resume was a child, its parents would probably try to lose it in the mall.
My main goals today were to make myself available whenever my previous interviewer wanted to meet for my third round interview, and to see as many baseball people as I could. So I set up camp outside of the main press conference room and kept my head on a swivel. Believe me, that was absolutely necessary. The stars of the industry were appearing fast and furious, and naming all of the people I saw would require a completely different blog. I know I’ve mentioned it many times in past entries, but the Winter Meetings truly are baseball nerd heaven.
As I roamed around the hotel, I made sure to keep checking my phone in case it A) was ringing and I couldn’t hear it or B) if I had gotten a text and I missed the notification tone. As the noon hour passed paranoia began to set in, so I returned to the workroom, where I could focus on staring at my phone. On a general level, the workroom was light in both population and enthusiasm. The same conversations of “How’s your day going?” and “Had any interviews lately?” were growing tired. While I was genuinely excited for those who were continuing to have interviews, I was concerned by how I went from definitely getting a call to meet with the general manager and owner of a team to not even deserving of a call/text to tell me they were going in a “different direction.” Having concluded an hour or so of analyzing every second of conversation that had previously taken place I was left a bit baffled, but determined to turn this afternoon around.
I returned to the scene of the real action on this day — the main lobby outside of the media room. After all, today was supposed to be a big day for trades and signings. Within seconds, I was rubbing elbows with Joe Girardi, Mike Scoscia, Terry Francona and David Wright. I shook hands with Tim Kurkjian, Kevin Millar and the master of awesome, Peter Gammons. (And so concludes the name dropping portion of the program.) What I’m sloppily attempting to convey is that, although the Job Fair portion of this week turned out to be a bit more miss than hit for me, the reasons I was able to qualify this as one of the best weeks of my life were many.
Now before you start feeling too sorry for me, I do have a bit of information to share with the group. After months of obsessing over several job listing websites, sending out over 90 cover letters and resumes and hoping for a bite, last Friday I received a call from the Birmingham Barons to set up a phone interview. The initial interview went extremely well, and led to a second interview mere hours later. The second interview went equally as well, and led to a third call just one hour later. That third call was a job offer in baseball operations. Completely stunned by the immediacy of that particular interview process, I didn’t have an answer at the time. I was twelve hours from leaving for Nashville, and my mind was in several different places at the same time. I have since accepted that offer, and will be joining the Birmingham Barons staff next month. (editor’s note: !!!) I wanted to go through this week as if that offer did not exist, but now that the Job Fair process has concluded I thought it was relevant information to share.
Since I will be creating an additional post in the coming days that will wrap up my Job Fair experience, I am hesitant to come to any total conclusion about what my feelings were on the process (as they may change slightly with a little distance). However, if you asked me to rate the value of the Job Fair experience at this moment, my answer would be “whatever the highest rating available is, go one notch higher than that.” For anyone who is attempting to break into this industry, no matter your age or background, this Job Fair is a must. The experience I had here was invaluable, and although it didn’t directly lead to any job offers, it certainly did allow me to make this dream of a career in baseball feel real and attainable. I hope my story was at the very least readable, with the hope that it was actually interesting. Alright, bring it in…group hug, then lets all get outta here. Thanks for reading.
And thank you, Clint, for writing — and congrats on the job! Stay tuned for a final wrap-up post from Clint next week.
Throughout this year’s Baseball Winter Meetings in Nashville, 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, Clint Belau rides the emotional rollercoaster amidst an overstimulating atmosphere.
Tuesday, 12/4/12 — A LITTLE RAIN CAN’T SLOW ME DOWN
As I woke up still riding the high of having a beer bought for me by the manager of my favorite team, I prepared for a rainy morning hike to Opryland. Although yesterday was slow overall, I remained hopeful that today would be different. Upon arrival at the ever popular interview room around 10 o’clock (calm down, I’m not that much of a slacker. I got there at 9, I just got caught up on the lobby talking to a few folks), my hopes were a bit dashed. My name was non-existent on every list, and the new job postings were minimal. On this day, it wasn’t due to a lack of lists…there were plenty of interview schedules posted. I just apparently had not made the cut.
But far be it for this Debby to get down. I decided to get back on the horse by heading down to the trade show for a bit. A larger mecca of sports-related vendors I had never seen. If my eyes manage to remain in my head this entire week, it’ll be a miracle. Bats, turf, mascot outfits, fan engagement technology (nice new term usage CB!), shirts, hats, uniforms, bobbleheads, golf carts, hitting instruction tools and yes, even free hot dogs, filled the various booths. Oh, and Miss Florida was there too. I had the opportunity to speak with a couple of the vendors that were kind enough to put up with me and my questions about what their business relationship is like with a given team. In the matter of the hour, I not only learned a lot, but developed a small brainful (I have limited space available) of ideas to implement with (caution: egotistical statement upcoming) whatever team is fortunate enough to employ me.
Click HERE to see MiLB.com’s Trade Show photo gallery
After a quick check of the interview scheduling room, the interview situation, for me, had not changed. Lots of new interview schedule lists, none included my name. I headed back over near the MLB TV set, which is apparently the location I seek when needing to re-center my chi, and it indeed worked. As I strolled through, I bumped into Ken Rosenthal, Harold Reynolds and Jack Morris. With that, the nerdy grin was back on my face, and I was reminded of what an amazing environment this is. And within seconds of successful chi alignment, I had a text from a team that I had interviewed with on Monday! Not only did they want another interview, but this one would be with the owner of the team! I don’t think they bring the owner in to tell you that you sucked in the first interview, and they never want to hear from you again. After a quick meet up with their general manager to discuss the time and place, we planned to meet Wednesday. Which gives me approximately 24 hours to obsess over ridiculous, hypothetical scenarios.
A return to what was becoming an increasingly sedated workroom, brought forth conversations of varying attitudes. Some candidates had as many as a dozen interviews today and are excited (read: hopped up on Red Bull), some had fewer, but remain hopeful, and sprinkled in the mix were the depressed. I’ve done my best to try to pick them up a bit, but when some people want to sulk, they just want to sulk. Well, go for it. Me, I’m determined to enjoy every step of this journey. I’m also determined to get more free hot dogs, so it’s back to the trade show!
Today’s not as cool as yesterday, but still this is a pretty cool story – On the advice of The Dude (not in a derogatory sense, as I feel like this particular gentlemen would appreciate the Big Lebowski comparison) at the mini mart near my hotel, I decided to visit John A’s, for what was touted as “the best catfish sandwich I’ll ever have”. It was indeed delicious. However, after finishing my meal and beginning a lengthy interview session with the vacationers to my immediate left, a legend of the game strolled into the bar. With a posse of four guardians, Tommy Lasorda made as grand an entrance as could be made into a bar with a mere ten partons. As he headed for a table, he walked directly towards me. Now I had arrived at John A’s around 9, and this was taking place at 11:15, so I was feeling fairly confident. As Mr. Lasorda approached, I extended my hand, and out spilled a surprisingly calm “It’s a pleasure to meet you, Mr. Lasorda”. As he shook my hand, the words “syntax error” most likely scrolled acorss my eyes. My brain shut off for the remainder of the night, and somehow, I ended up back in my hotel room, eating a bag of Cheez-its, and literally laughing out loud at the ridiculousness of this week. With one day of interviewing left, my confidence was at an all time high.
Clint’s rollicking narrative is far from over; perhaps it will never end. Check back later this week for more. That’s an order
Throughout this year’s Baseball Winter Meetings in Nashville, 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, Clint Belau finds himself becoming part of “one big semi-functional family.” Clint’s first entry can be found HERE.
Monday, 12/3/12: Hurry Up and Wait
The word of the day was patience. The interview scheduling room didn’t open until 9AM, which is late when you’re someone who woke up at 5 due to uncontrollable excitement. I took the opportunity to check out the MLBTV sets first thing in the morning. The madness has begun, and the overall action in the hotel’s various lobbies has increased tenfold since yesterday. Essentially, everyone who is anyone in baseball is here, and they’re all now roaming amongst the commoners. Trying to keep my head from spinning as I attempt to keep up with all of the baseball celebrities around me has become a concern.
As the bell struck 9, the interview scheduling room was flooded with eager baseball wannabes, all assuming the posting boards would be full of lists with their name on them. Well, they couldn’t have been more wrong. In fact, there were three jobs that had interview lists posted. You could almost hear the collective inner thought of “um…what?” running through everyone’s mind. It became immediately apparent that today would be a day of waiting.
As the morning progressed, more lists were posted. At 10:39, I saw my name on a list for the first time. Was it the greatest feeling of elation ever? No, but it was quite a relief. The “team name that shall remain anonymous” wanted to speak with me. I penned my name in the 11:15 interview slot, and with that, had secured my first interview of the week. At 11:07, I nervously stood in the interview room, waiting for the previous interviewee to wrap it up, so I could meet with my prospective employer. At 11:15 sharp, I began what would be the best first round interview of my life. Within seconds, it was confirmed. I’ve finally chosen the right path for my life. I’m very rarely more comfortable than when I’m around baseball…and that has obviously carried over into my professional pursuit. A twenty minute interview felt like two seconds. And in seemingly an instant, it was over. The gentlemen who had interviewed me were now handing me their cards and offering to buy me a beer at the bar later. And, being from Wisconsin, it’s deeply embedded in my DNA to never, ever, turn down a free beer.
Back to the majority of the day, which was spent hanging out in the workroom area, then checking, then re-checking, then checking again, then borderline obsessing over the job posting and interview scheduling boards. That was typically followed by conversations with other job seekers about how there didn’t seem to be much movement. However, it was a great time to trade stories with fellow attendees. Calling it a friendly group is comparable to calling the the Opryland Hotel mid-sized. Everyone was bouncing around from table to table, getting to know each other. It was as unstuffy as unstuffy could possibly be. Occasionally, veterans of the business would pop in to offer their advice, encouragement and general well wishes. One thing that stood out for me is how much everyone in the business seems to look out for each other. It really does appear to be one big semi-functional family.
During the afternoon, the posting boards picked up. I had another interview during which I was so relaxed it was suspicious. Having two interviews seemed to be the overall average for the day. As the 5 o’clock posting room closure hour drew near, talk shifted from “how has your day gone” to “where are we drinking tonight?” After all, networking is key. And the opportunity to be rubbing elbows with such a ridiculous number of baseball greatest minds is not to be passed up.
And this brings us to the most completely awesome story of the day – After meeting the creator himself, Benjamin Hill, for a couple drinks at the bar, I bellied up to close out my tab. As I was doing so, I looked over my shoulder and saw none other than Eric Wedge. Between checking to see if I was having a heart attack, and assuring myself that my bladder remained under control, I mustered up enough courage to offer to buy him a drink. Not only did he pull a complete reversal and buy ME a drink, but we proceeded to have a lengthy chat about the Mariners, my current situation, and the Winter Meetings in general. As a devoted Mariners fan, I cannot imagine there will be a bigger highlight for me this week. If I can say that there was one specific experience that made this entire trip “worth it”, that was it. Yes, jobs are fantastic, and I certainly hope I leave here with one, but I believe life is about experiences, and that was an experience that will remain with me forever.
Throughout this year’s Baseball Winter Meetings in Nashville, four attendees of the PBEO Job Fair have agreed to keep a journal chronicling their employment seeking experiences. (Meet them all HERE.) These journal entries were scheduled to start running on Tuesday, but job-seeker Clint Belau just couldn’t wait to begin sharing his experiences. Hence, he has sent in this “bonus” entry, covering Sunday’s “Business of Baseball” orientation. Enjoy, and check back throughout the week for more from Clint as well as our other three job-seekers.
Sunday, 12/2/12: OPEN THE FLOODGATES
I departed the fabulous Days Inn on foot bright and early, making my way towards the Gaylord Opryland Hotel for the orientation-style Business Of Baseball workshop. Apparently I was a little on the excited side, since my walk – which had taken 21 minutes in my test version last night — took a mere 13. I’m sure the skinny bald guy in a black suit with briefcase in hand, walking at a furious pace down the streets of Nashville at 7:00 AM on a Sunday morning, looked completely normal to cars passing by. Alas, at 7:13, I had officially arrived at the Winter Meetings.
The day was emceed by the recently appointed President of the Scranton/Wilkes Barre RailRiders, Rob Crain (sidenote: that dude really knows how to emcee a workshop). The morning session began at 8:15 sharp, and included an impressive roster of Minor League executives, all of whom had helpful hints about the interview process, tips for what to do/what not to do during the upcoming week, and most importantly, offered incredibly blunt insights as to what life in Minor League Baseball is all about. At points, it seemed as if they were trying to talk us all out of our respective pursuits. In reality, their candor was greatly appreciated. With a room made up of 95% bright-eyed, ready to conquer the world 20-somethings, the reality check-themed speeches were a bit predictable. If anyone in the room was surprised to hear that Minor League Baseball is made up of understaffed, overworked, minimally paid people who are in it for all the right reasons, they neglected to do their research.
As I mentioned, the crowd was mainly comprised of upcoming/recent college graduates, although I (age 35) was far from the only old timer there. Of the younger attendees that I spoke with, the fact that I’m basically a decade their elder didn’t seem to bother anyone. (Although, if I’m patting my own back here, I’m a pretty easy guy to get along with.) Whenever there were breaks, most of us wisely used our time polishing our networking skills. As was repeated countless times by each and every speaker, that will be the single most important skill during this week, and more so, going forward in our career.
We broke for lunch, at which point I made a very important phone call that I’ll get to in future entries. The afternoon session included a panel of esteemed industry professionals, a session on how to locate the job posting board, and where to submit your resumes. The workshop was capped off with a hilarious, incredibly thought-provoking, 45 minutes with the extremely entertaining Vice President and COO of the Richmond Flying Squirrels, Todd “Parney” Parnell.
The day closed with the unveiling of the job posting room, where some 278 jobs were on display. Yeah, that room got real busy, real quick. However, there were no “Wal-Mart at midnight on Black Friday” incidents, so there was no need for a safety helmet. The job-seeking crowd was very cordial…for now. Most of us mingled a bit in the “Job Seeker Workroom” area, labeling our resumes to be placed in the appropriate box, according to job posting number. Me, I was on a mission for Mexican food…so after submitting my resumes, I was off to eat, and to begin my week at Networkfest 2012.
Quote of the Day – “If you are looking to begin a career in baseball, you are in exactly the right place.” Pat O’Conner, President – Minor League Baseball
There will be much more to come this week (and next) from Nashville. The Gaylord Opryland Hotel is where the magic happens!