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 this year’s Baseball Winter Meetings in Nashville, four attendees of the PBEO Job Fair agreed to keep a journal chronicling their employment seeking experiences. (Meet them all HERE). In this installment, Eric Schmitz offers a refreshingly honest assessment of his final day at the Job Fair.
Erik Schmitz archives:
12/5/12 — GREAT EXPECTATIONS
Wednesday was a very interesting day. I had brilliantly decided to stay up and write my journal entry after I got back from the bar and before I went to bed, so I slept through my first alarm and scrambled to get over to Opryland. I had an 8:30 follow-up interview with the team I had met with Monday, which had been scheduled by a late phone call Tuesday evening I received while at The Falls. [one of the Gaylord Opryland’s many drinking spots]
Over the course of later Monday and Tuesday, I had sold myself on this position being the one that had the strongest scores in both likelihood of being selected and being the best opportunity. So it was on my mind most of the day Tuesday, and whereas in past Job Fairs, when I had multitudes of interviews to distract me, it wasn’t so much the case this time around.
Rushing over to Opryland, I neglected to remember that it helps to relax and remember that you did good in the first interview, so my mind wasn’t in the best place. Needless to say, I wasn’t impressive, and when you realize that yourself, you know that’s not good. In contrast with the initial sit down, which was great but very casual, this seemed like a real, super-serious job interview, and I was definitely caught off guard. So after a good 20 minutes of not doing much to solidify my candidacy, the interview was over. I walked away thinking Earnest Byner would be the only one who could truly appreciate what just happened.
With the posting rooms just opening for the day, I walked up to check the boards to see what else was happening. On Wednesday, there was officially one position posted. I walked through the interview posting room, and it was bare like I’ve never seen it. Anyone that was only there for the Job Fair could’ve bounced Tuesday night and would’ve been fine. Comparing the three days of this year’s job fair to past job fairs, I think this might have been the least active of them all. Many of the positions I put resumes in for, well, without evidence to back it up, probably the majority of what I put in for were never even posted for interviews.
Sure, I know the teams attending are busy, they’re there for business, and that maybe they don’t have enough people there to do interviews and attend the necessary functions. The job seekers showing up put a lot of money into coming from all over for this, knowing they can interview face-to-face for the chance to pursue their career, and I feel like the amount of opportunities to do so this year was disappointing. If teams want to interview over the phone and judge on a person’s voice, great, but maybe I just don’t see how these organizations wouldn’t jump at the chance to sit at a table with the people they need to pick from.
Because of the lack of activity, I spent a good amount of time of sitting in the workroom chatting with people and wandering around the Trade Show. After a few hours of that, I walked over to meet some of the Sounds staff who had already went to Opry Mills for lunch. I ended up running into Sounds GM Brad Tammen halfway there, and as we walked, he asked me about how things were going and I told him about what I had going. He had some very valuable advice about how to handle my choices, and I’m continually appreciative of how the network of people you work with in Minor League Baseball will continue to help you out after you move on.
Other than sporadically checking the posting rooms (mostly not even walking in, just asking and being told that nothing else was posted) I did a bit of wandering before I decided to just head back to the hotel and take a nap. The way the day started and the inactivity after that wasn’t exactly encouraging. But while the afternoon was dull, the night wouldn’t be the same.
Thanks to an unnamed friend who wasn’t going to be around for the Gala, I was able to score a ticket to maybe the highlight of the week’s agenda. This year, they had it at Dave & Buster’s over at Opry Mills, and it was fantastic. The baseball world had their run of the place, and there’s no job seeker tag or staff tag separating everyone (unless you were wearing one, and I know better than that). Free food, free drinks and free games. Having met so many people through Winter Meetings, working in baseball, whatever… it’s great to just hang out and have fun in an environment like that. I’d say the $75 might be more than I’d ever be willing to shell out to attend, but having a ticket, it’s a no-brainer to go. It was a great time up until they pulled the plug (literally) on it at 10.
With a nice head start and the rest of the night ahead, with nothing awaiting Thursday morning, I headed downtown with Kevin and Leon (previously mentioned in this journal series) and a few guys from the Arkansas Travelers. One of my friends here in Nashville, Alyssa Foote, was at the Trade Show with Cymplify, a merchandise company (check them out, people!) and they had a VIP party at a bar down on 2nd Street. The place was packed with baseball executives of all levels, and they had a live performance by Keith Anderson, which was fantastic. It was a great way to wrap up a crazy few days.
Over four days, I met some great people and did what I could to make my way in the industry. There’s still an offer on the table, and hopefully more to come. Now, it’s just waiting for something to happen.
My sincere thanks to Eric for providing us with this account of his Winter Meetings experience, and stay tuned for a final update…
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, Eric Schmitz experiences the highs and lows of “professional speed dating.”
Eric’s first entry can be found HERE.
Tuesday was another early start, as a journal entry to write and a scheduled interview to prepare for left little time to recover from the grind of job seeker life. My first interview was at 10am. I arrived around 9:30, checked the job posting room to see that little had changed, saw the same in the interview posting room, and headed to the interview room for my meeting.
Let me tell you about interviewing at the PBEO Job Fair. Usually, when you have a job interview outside of this week at this event, you have days if not weeks to prepare, and it’s a very formal event. Here, there’s no time for that. This is professional speed dating. You get a table number to meet at, and you go introduce yourself to people you usually have never met before. You have 10-15 minutes (maybe even 30 if you’re lucky to meet with people you could spend the next summer to the next few years of your life with) and convince them why you’re the best candidate for the position. If you get really nervous for interviews, good luck finding the time to do that here. If you’re fortunate enough to get multiple interviews, you have plenty of chances to shake it off. Everyone’s gonna have a horrible interview, you can’t kill them all. If you happen to be the type that can kill in every interview, then odds are you’re not the type that’s attending this.
So I had my first interview (I’m going to keep teams and positions vague to protect the innocent and increase the allure of my skills, if you don’t mind) and it went quite well. It was for a full time position, a Triple-A franchise in a great situation but a little above my qualifications, and I felt I did a solid job convincing the interviewee I was up for the challenge. But you don’t really know, and in 15 minutes, most often you’re not gonna get a vibe that says “I have this locked up” so there’s no sense over-analyzing your performance.
That was it for the morning, and thanks to leaving my wallet at my off-site hotel, I left for a bit and had some time to think about my afternoon interviews. Over the course of the morning, my name appeared on another interview schedule, so I had three job interviews lined up within 1:45 and 3:00. The second two of the three I basically walked from one table to the other. The first went very well, in fact half the interview was just chatting about hockey, which is what I like to call my wheelhouse in terms of discussion points. It was one-on-one, and I can’t say I left thinking I had done a bad job showing why I’d be the best person for the position.
I had enough time between the first and second to go hang out in the workroom with my job seeking constituents. Over the course of this event, I’ve found a group of fellow unemployed who’ve found a way to stick together during the monotony and happen to be a lot of fun. So I chatted with them and headed back to the interview room for my final two spots.
That first one? Yeah… didn’t quite go so well. I sat down, and while I’m confident the position is something I could’ve succeeded at, it wasn’t a good sell job by myself. Of course, that worked out great, being a sales job and all. It was 3-on-1, and finding a way to make connections with three different people enough to give them a good feeling about you in about 15 minutes is pretty tough. I knew that right away, and as I got up to end that interview, I walked right to another table for my next one, sat down and got busy.
You know that feeling when you absolutely kill an interview? Awesome, right? I did very well and I was almost expecting to be offered on the spot. I wasn’t, which is expected since I was the first interview, but still, I finished up on a high note.
The postings were near non-existent for the day in general, and after sitting back down at the workroom table with my adopted peers for a bit, I went and wandered the trade show floor. I ran into my former colleague with the Sounds, Brandon Yerger, and walked around with him as he went around gathering information for the team. You can spend hours going booth to booth and learning about different products. I did stop and check out a few video board and presentation systems, just to get a better grasp of the technology for my own sake, and I’m continually impressed with how advanced things have become.
With no hope for more interviews or jobs to be posted, I just headed back to the hotel to relax and have dinner before another trip back to Opryland. Over the next few hours, I ended up getting call-backs on three of the five interviews I had. The first one I had this morning? Denied. The one this afternoon I killed? Got the offer. The one from Monday that I just showed up to and did well? They want to meet on Wednesday again, and it sounds promising. Needless to say, I feel like I’m in good shape and I still have chips left on the table with plenty of time for things to happen.
Back at Opryland, I met up with some of the Sounds staff (even AJ Rockwell came out!) at Fuse Sports Bar and I had a chance to tell them all about what happened. Then we wandered over to The Falls where it seemed like more people decided to hang out and we did sociable things. The place was mobbed, so we headed back to Fuse, which was bumping like it has been every night. I was able to make some additional connections with teams that I hadn’t applied with that seemed like they had potential, so it was naturally productive, but overall, the night was spent just chilling over a few drinks. That was fine with me, and around 1:30 I decided to call it a night. I said goodbyes to the people I was hanging out with, and got introduced to John Kruk. You know… just another night at the Baseball Winter Meetings.
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 Eric Schmitz recaps his first two days in the Music City.
It took a long journey to get to Nashville, but I can’t say there’s a city I’d rather have this year’s event in regards to my current situation. For me personally, being able to reconnect with my colleagues locally and throughout MiLB while trying to make my way into the industry makes things so much easier. I’m familiar with the area, and this being my third Winter Meetings, I know the ropes heading in. It’s almost like home-field advantage. While having an advantage is nice, the results are what matters.
The whole shindig got under way at Sunday’s Business of Baseball Workshop, which is probably the best reality check most job seekers are going to get prior to the PBEO Job Fair. This year’s was great — Rob Crain and the speakers did a fantastic job of being entertaining while getting the message across (which is basically the entire concept of Minor League Baseball). Being my third trip to the event but having a year away from the game, it was a good refresher to attend, albeit redundant to hear the same stories and speakers. Even though I know the situation well, the emcee Mr. Crain, Martie Cordaro, Elizabeth Martin, Giovanni Hernandez, the panel, “Parney” and Pat O’Conner were all great. I ran into Rob in the hallway between sessions and busted his chops about it being the third time I heard his Brian Cashman story, but honestly, he can keep telling it every year because it’s part of what this week is all about: meeting people and networking.
I made sure I attended the workshop because I knew I had to be able to get into the job posting room as it opened, since some teams will collect resumes Sunday night and post interview schedules first thing Monday morning. In past years, with less experience in my repertoire, I submitted a large number of resumes in the mindset of “throw enough crap at a wall and see what sticks,” and I’d end up with more interviews than I knew what to do with. This time around, I’ve been a bit more selective, because while I’m definitely motivated to do what it takes to get a career, not just a job, in the industry, I have a sense of what places and situations I can be successful in.
So after dropping in my resumes, I headed back to the hotel to change and grab food, then it was back to Opryland to do what is probably the most underappreciated yet crucial part of the job seeker role: hitting the hotel bars. I headed over with one of my former co-workers with the Sounds here in Nashville, Kevin Samborski, and another job seeker, Leon de Winter, to have a few drinks and start meeting people. Over a few beers, I made more connections than I would’ve even had a chance to do all day. It might seem a little misleading to some to act like drinking is what the Winter Meetings are all about, but really, the networking you do outside of the daily events is how you become part of the community. You’ll meet people this week that you’ll stay in contact with for the rest of your life, whether you work with the same team as them, or the same league as them, or the same organization as them, or not at all. And that connection is why this industry is the best.
After a late night (not too late, but late… I’d say “productive,” but irregardless…) I came back to Opryland Monday morning as the Job Fair and the Winter Meetings in general got into full swing. I checked the job posting room and battled the swarm around the two bulletin boards they decided to post everything at and tossed in a few resumes. Then I went and checked the interview posting room to look for my name but no dice.
I headed back into the posting room to see if the crowd died down, and as I’m looking at the board, my phone starts ringing. It was someone from one of the teams I submitted a resume for Sunday night, asking me to sit down for an interview, like… now. So I said “Sure,” and my first thought was, naturally, “What job did I apply for with these guys?” So as I’m walking to the lobby to meet these people I may be working with for the next few years or more of my life, I’m rifling through my notes to find the job title of what I applied for. I found them, sat down, had an interview which to me seemed to be a good one, and that was it. Such is life at the Job Fair. Always be ready.
The interview was early on in the morning, and the rest of the day crawled by. Nothing popped up before lunch time, and I met up with a bunch of guys from the Sounds and walked over to the Opry Mills mall to get some food. It was great catching up with them. One of the downfalls of breaking into the industry is that you’re likely going to be moving around, so you’ll spend summers being with people up to 18 hours a day (work plus after work drinks) and then you move on or they move on and you don’t get to see them as much. For veterans of the industry, that’s why the Winter Meetings is so much fun. This is the one time of year when you get to see the people you used to work with and have a good time.
Monday afternoon consisted of bunkering down in the Job Fair workroom and sitting and chatting with other job seekers while we all waited for more postings. Sitting down at a random table and shooting the breeze with people, waiting for my phone to charge, ended up being an alright way to pass the afternoon. I ended up having my name show up on a few more interview schedules, but everything was for Tuesday. So I headed back to the hotel, got out of my suit and shot right back over to Opryland for the night. The Baseball Trade Show opened Monday night, which is a can’t miss event. And, no, not just because of the free drinks. The trade show is a great place to make connections with the suppliers who you’ll eventually be working with once you’re an established professional. Meeting these people, seeing the products, which includes every item imaginable that a baseball team would need to operate, is eye-opening for many.
After that, I headed over to the sports bar here with a few people and ended up hanging out all night. Of course a bunch of guys from the Sounds were there as well (thanks to Assistant GM Doug Scopel for buying the first round) and as the night went on, I caught up with new faces and old. I was lucky to have a chance to get a drink with Clint, one of the other journaling job seekers and the very talented proprietor of this Ben’s Biz Blog as well. I called it a night relatively early thanks to having an early interview on the docket Tuesday. So we’ll see how that goes. I’ll be sure to tell you all about it.