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 2013’s four journal writers (Click on the name of each job seeker to see all of the posts that they have written).
Meanwhile, a post featuring 2012’s journal writers can be found HERE.
It was just about one year ago that I took a leap of faith right before graduation and made my way down to Orlando for what proved to be a life-altering week. I went into the Baseball Winter Meetings expecting to find a great internship somewhere in the middle of the country. After spending four long days “hitting the pavement,” I left Orlando not knowing what to do. The only full-time job I interviewed for wouldn’t be making a decision for at least another month, while every internship I had been offered needed an answer within the next week or two. I chose to turn down each internship to stay in the running for the full-time position, which played out in my favor, and here I am today.
Currently, I’m the marketing manager for the Staten Island Yankees, the Class A Short Season affiliate of the New York Yankees, handling the team’s website, media relations, gameday publication and social media (follow us!). After nervously sitting at home unemployed in Port Barre, Louisiana, for two months, I got the job I had been holding out for. Not only did I get a full-time position, I also got the chance to live in New York City, which is much different than any place I had imagined myself in when I planned my trip to the BWM. Living and working in this city is exciting, stressful, intriguing and challenging, but certainly not boring. Plus, you never know when you’ll bump into Ben Hill during a mid-week game.
As far as my experience at the Winter Meetings, it was certainly positive. The Job Fair process is intense to say the least. It seemed like there was an equal number of job seekers and job postings. While talking to other job seekers, however, it was apparent that most people were there for one of three job categories: broadcasting, baseball operations and marketing/communications. Unfortunately, there were only a handful of full-time jobs available altogether (the vast majority were internships), and there were far more people looking to gain experience in the aforementioned areas than for sales, stadium operations, etc. This created a LOT of competition for the most appealing positions. I like to think that I was able to cut through the clutter by being very prepared. I brought tons of resumes, cover letters and business cards, and read several first-hand accounts of the Job Fair from previous years so that there wouldn’t be any surprises. But, most importantly, make sure that you enjoy the experience. While it might be stressful to have your future hanging with uncertainty, there are not many places where you’ll be able to shake hands with Tommy Lasorda, embarrass yourself in front of Mark Prior and walk amongst your childhood heroes all in one night. Best of luck to everyone attending this year’s Winter Meetings!
It has been a rough couple of months for me. Last year when I was going through the job seeking process, I knew surgery was looming for a torn labrum in my left shoulder. After my labrum was repaired in February (which forced me to miss my whole collegiate baseball season), I found out that I needed to get a minor procedure done on my lower back. While looking for opportunities at last year’s Winter Meetings, I knew I needed to find a position where I literately sat all day long.
I was offered a internship with a Minor League team in late January, but I turned it down because I was about to go in to surgery and I had no idea what the recovery process would be like. I did not want to make a commitment to a team if I ended up not being able to fulfill it. It really bummed me out because the opportunity justified my reasoning for going to the Winter Meetings.
In April, I got a call from Baseball Info Solutions in regard to an application that I had submitted at the Winter Meetings. It was a pleasant surprise, considering that the Winter Meetings were three months prior and I did not expect to hear from the company. I did a phone interview soon after and they offered me a “Video Scout” internship opportunity. I ended up working at BIS for the summer, and it was a fantastic experience. My first day at BIS was just two weeks after surgery, but the excitement of getting paid to watch baseball all day was the perfect morphine. Overall, BIS opened my eyes to analytics, and I’m extremely thankful for the experience.
I’m now a senior at Lynn University, and I am graduating in just a few weeks. However, you won’t see me at this year’s Winter Meetings as I’ll be starting graduate school in the spring (while I play my last two years of college baseball). At the end of my last post almost a year ago, I said I was “pretty sure that I just heard that bamboo lemur (in the Winter Meetings Job Fair jungle) that I had been searching for ruffling in the bushes.” Looking at my timeline, I found the lemur, dropped it in a black hole, and then its brother attacked me in my sleep. But the lemur has now come and gone, and while my journey is currently on hold, I’ll be heading back in to the forest come 2015.
I still remember exactly how I felt when I wrote the phrase “Just waiting…” for my final journal entry last winter. After spending an incredible couple of days in Florida running back-and-forth between the Job Fair and the media area, I was exhausted and, honestly, nervous. I was a senior in college trying to juggle my final semester, freelancing and searching for a place to work after graduation.
I never did get a job offer from any of the teams at the Winter Meetings, but I can say with complete certainty that I’m OK with that.
In the year since I attended the Winter Meetings, I wrote several features for FoxSports.com, graduated from Boston University, accepted a paid internship with the Cape Cod Times and, most importantly, got a job with MassLive.com as a high school sports reporter.
My summer with the CCT gave me some incredible opportunities, including a chance to shadow one of the Cape Leaguers as he experienced Fenway Park for the first time. Just as that internship was coming to an end, I was offered the job with MassLive and it was the perfect fit. I get to work toward my goal of becoming a professional beat reporter every day, and it really doesn’t get any better than that.
While the Job Fair didn’t lead to my current position, I still think that it was completely worthwhile. I had a chance to talk to professional writers about their experiences and learn more about the business of baseball. Most of all, I made really great connections with people who have helped me to continue my passion for sports journalism.
Oh, and I’m still annoyingly good friends with fellow journaler Kasey Decker.
So, that’s where I’m at right now. Thank you to Ben for giving me the chance to update you all on my whereabouts and for giving me the opportunity to talk about my Winter Meetings experience in the first place!
Hey there future job seekers! I still remember exactly how I felt leaving Orlando (it was a lot of panic because I wasn’t sure if I had returned my first-ever rental car correctly.) I have since taken a job outside of baseball to pay the bills, started my own blog, and I even took up my old gameday role with the Rome Braves again over the summer.
It’s definitely a challenge to keep applying, keep working on getting my name out there, and to keep my head up that something is going to come along.
As far as the Job Fair goes, I absolutely think that it’s worth it to go to once. I don’t know if I would recommend the second trip. I was planted pretty firmly between being overqualified for entry-level jobs and underqualified for higher-level jobs.
With all of that being said, I definitely gained a lot from my experience in Orlando the second time around. Writing for Ben helped me find my voice and allowed me to start my own blog (kaseyatthebat.com) that has grown steadily in the past year. I met fellow job seeker Meredith who I still talk to every day. Lastly, I now know the layout of the Swan & Dolphin resort and Downtown Disney well enough to give some solid travel advice.
Thanks to Ian, Alex, Meredith and Kasey for sharing their perspectives. Stay tuned on Monday for the first installments from 2014’s crop of job-seeking journal writers.
Throughout the 2013 Winter Meetings in Orlando, four attendees of the PBEO Job Fair kept a journal chronicling their employment-seeking experiences (meet them all HERE). The last time we heard from Ian Fontenot was on December 11, when he expressed a cautious optimism in regard to landing a “full-time marketing opportunity” with an unidentified Minor League club. Now, two months later, he has checked in one final time. Read on to find out where Ian will be working in 2014, and how it all came about.
Hello, all. When I last created a journal entry two months ago, I left you with a bit of a cliff hanger as to where I’d end up after an exciting and stressful Winter Meetings experience. I took a big risk and gave up a great internship opportunity to pursue what I deemed to be a perfect fit for what I was looking for when I arrived in Orlando: a full time position.
Since declining my two internship offers from the Winter Meetings, I graduated from LSU and moved back home to Port Barre, LA to wait out the decision-making process and sell myself to more organizations. As I continued the interviews with my prospective full time job, I got more calls and emails for more internships. I got a few more offers, which added to the risk of waiting for a final answer from the job I wanted. I basically reached the point of no return as I turned down another perfect internship to continue the wait. (I won’t name any teams, but let’s just say I’d be living on the beach for the next several months.) Then, I got the call I had been waiting for.
Exactly two months from the date of my first interview with the team, I received an offer to become the newly created Marketing Manager for the Staten Island Yankees. And of course, I accepted…after a grand total of seven interviews and a trip to Richmond County Bank Ballpark, which has the absolute best view of the Manhattan skyline. In less than two weeks, I’ll be starting a chapter of my life in New York. Coming from the smallest of towns in Louisiana, I know this is going to be one hell of a transition, but I couldn’t be more excited for the challenge. More than anything, I’m relieved that the numerous risks I’ve taken since leaving Orlando have paid off, because if not, I’d be writing to you explaining the opportunity cost of taking risks with your future.
If I have any advice for future job seekers in professional baseball, it would be to always keep your head up during your search. When I signed up to attend the Job Fair, I was hoping for the best, but certainly didn’t expect to be offered the opportunities I was presented. At the Winter Meetings, anything can become possible if you’re prepared for it.
Congrats to Ian on landing the job! I’ll make sure to visit him in Staten Island this summer.
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 weighs his options, takes a calculated risk, and leaves Orlando on a high note.
Last, But Not Least
The final day of the Winter Meetings for job seekers was upon us. After a long night of enjoying what was left of my time at Walt Disney World, I was drained, but excited about my final interview of the week. This was the first full-time position I’d be interviewing for, so naturally I was pumped. What was more exciting was the fact that this job was in a BIG market (more about that later). The second that the team’s CEO described what he was looking for in the position, I knew I had to have it. My demeanor went from sluggish and dragging to elated instantly. This interview was the first time I’ve came right out and told the interviewer I was exactly what he was looking for…or so I hope. With a great offer from a great club already in my back pocket, I knew this would throw a new wrinkle into the equation. As per usual, my gut feeling was right. My previous offer needed a decision by the end of the week, while my new prospect wouldn’t be making an offer until after Christmas. Talk about a sticky situation, but if there’s one thing I learned this week, you have to take risks in this industry to get what you want. I’ve never been more positive that an interview went swimmingly, but what happens if I don’t get the job? I’ll go from being in a near perfect situation to having nothing. Challenge accepted!
Everything around the Job Fair was now winding down. New job postings came to a screeching halt, and interview schedules were slowly pulled down. Talking to several fellow job seekers, I got a mix of sentiments toward the process. While there were many who were excited about getting tons of interviews and accepting offers that will potentially alter their lives, there were also many who not only went the last few days without getting contacted by any clubs, but didn’t see an interview list for their positions altogether. According to PBEO [Professional Baseball Employment Opportunities], there were 503 jobs posted with 506 job seekers in attendance. In theory, there should be a job available for nearly every person here. However, it appeared that less than half of those postings came with an interview schedule. That’s most likely due to the fact that lots of clubs contacted interviewees directly, which was the case for me in a few instances. Regardless of my situation, I couldn’t help but feel bad for those who weren’t as fortunate as myself. Making the trip to the Winter Meetings and putting yourself out there is no small feat.
In closing, I have to say that this week has been the most rewarding and exciting experience ever. I’ve made friends and connections that will last a lifetime. I may not know what the future holds for me just yet, but that’s okay. I’m a firm believer in the saying, “Everything happens for a reason.” I’ve never been more positive that I’m pursuing the right thing, and I know I’ll end up where I’m meant to be. To all my fellow job seekers/new professional baseball employees, good luck! To all those who will be pursuing jobs in the industry in the future, work hard and prepare yourself for when opportunity knocks. And lastly, a HUGE thanks to Ben Hill for allowing me to share my experience with you all! I can’t wait to fill you guys in on where this journey takes me.
As Ian intimated in the above paragraph, he will be contributing one final blog post once his new employment situation — whatever it may be — becomes final. In the meantime, a big thanks to Ian for contributing journal entries throughout the week.
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 finds himself in demand and begins to weigh his options.
Its 5:30 a.m. on Tuesday, and my bed in the Best Western is extremely comfortable. With only a few hours of sleep to refuel me, I struggled to get out of bed, but this morning will be a critical networking opportunity. I got the chance to volunteer for the Baseball Industry Network Baseball Winter Meetings Morning Meet-up, where some of the best in the business will be available to chat. Just by sitting at a table and signing people in, I was able to strike up some great and useful conversations. There were plenty of guys who work in baseball operations hanging around, which made getting up so early 100 percent worth it.
The second full day of the Job Fair kicked into full swing at 9 a.m., and by all measures, I expected this day to be the most action-packed. Boy, was I right. My first interview was a follow-up, immediately followed by a great offer. Though the opportunity was great, the pay wasn’t, and as someone who has loans to pay back, I respectfully declined. With that offer in my rearview, it was on to the next interview. I’ve been blessed in Orlando to get lots of interviews, something I know many job seekers would kill for. And with every interview, the possibilities grew endless. The best way I can think to describe Tuesday was that of what a high school athlete goes through right before National Signing Day. Plenty of beers were bought and lots of promises were made, but I know not to let it cloud my judgment.
The nightlife on Tuesday was a little different from the previous two nights. This was much less about networking and more about reconnecting with old colleagues and being pitched a great opportunity. My energy was running at an all-time low, but it’s my last night at my first, and hopefully not last, Winter Meetings experience. During the night, I received an email about a full time marketing opportunity in a great place. Since I’ll be flying back to Louisiana on Wednesday afternoon, I set up my interview with the team’s CEO for first thing in the morning. As 3 a.m. rolled around, the last 22 hours finally caught up to me, and I couldn’t have been happier to get a few more hours of sleep. Hopefully I can muster the strength to make it through my final day and return to Louisiana to make the biggest decision of my life. Decisions, decisions, decisions.
What decision will Ian make? Stay tuned to find out!
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 eyes his dream job while keeping his options open.
The REAL Magic Kingdom
If you’ve ever done any research or watched ESPN during the Winter Meetings, you’d know that the place is crawling with familiar faces. But that isn’t exactly what makes this event so special. Getting to apply for your dream job is what makes you feel the “magic,” regardless of whether you even get an interview. With a flood of new job postings up first thing on Monday morning, there were plenty new positions to apply to. I won’t say any names yet, but my dream position was tacked to the board in front of me, and I could barely contain my excitement. Do I think I’ll get a shot to sell myself to the club? Eh, we’ll see. But the fact that the position was even posted was enough for me. Its opportunities like this that make this trip worth it.
Monday was hectic to say the least. When job postings and interview schedules went up each half hour, everyone swarmed like ants on breadcrumbs to see what updates were available. I didn’t have high expectations for many interview schedules to be posted, and for the most part, I was right. Of the 28 positions I submitted my resume for, only five posted a schedule. Luckily I found my name on two of these lists and locked down my first interview of the day. Oddly enough, I had a connection with my interviewer that I hadn’t expected. Last spring, I applied for a media relations position with a club and was contacted for an interview. Unfortunately, our time tables didn’t match up as they wanted me to start in April, and I was still in school. I immediately recognized the interviewers name (with a different club than before) and knew this would be an interesting interview. She too remembered wanting to interview me last year, and as she put it, “Not many people get invited to the prom twice.” I was ecstatic that my first in-person interview went so well, but I know I have to keep my options open as there are still two more days for opportunities to arise.
As I made my final rounds of checking interviews and new jobs, I couldn’t help but notice the disappointment of many job seekers as their interview schedules were MIA, or their names didn’t appear on prospective interview schedules. I tried to offer words of encouragement to a few people, because I knew many teams were delayed due to weather, leaving them no opportunity to retrieve the mounds of resumes from their boxes. Soon as the job rooms closed, I made my way back to my hotel to change clothes and put my bag away for the night. If you’ve ever used the Walt Disney World transit systems, you would know that you better not be in a hurry, because it’ll take a while to navigate these massive grounds. Unfortunately, this excursion put me back at the Swan and Dolphin Resort at exactly 8 p.m., causing me to miss the opening night of the Trade Show. I may have missed the free beer, but I’ll have plenty time to drop in over the next two days.
I closed out the night at the hotel lobby bar, which was absolutely packed with executives. I’m still trying to wrap my head around the fact that I got to be within arms length of John Farrell, Tommy Lasorda, Bobby Cox and Ron Washington, just to name a few. The nightlife is fun, but I’ll be up at 5:30 a.m. for another chance to make valuable connections. Stay tuned!
Looking for jobs by day, drinking with baseball a-listers at night…what’s next? Stay tuned on Wednesday for another installment of Ian’s job-seeking adventures.
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!