By Jim Angell, special to MiLB.com
Throughout this year’s Winter Meetings in Nashville, four attendees of the PBEO Job Fair have agreed to chronicle their employment-seeking experiences (meet them all HERE.). In this, his fourth and final installment, Jim Angell dishes out the advice, expresses gratitude and waits for what’s next.
That’s the Ball Game, Here’s the Recap
Over the past three days, I have taken (at times) a whimsical look at the Winter Meetings and my participation in the PBEO Job Fair. Today, I’ll focus on recapping the event for future job seekers and sharing some of the lessons I learned I during my time in Nashville.
There’s a saying around baseball that no matter how much you have been involved in and around the game, it will always teach you something new. First-time attendees need to keep that in mind. You should come ready to learn, willing to interact with a wide range of people, and honest about yourself, your talents and about what you want to do.
The primary thing that first-timers need to understand is that baseball is an industry made up of variously-sized companies (organizations) and suppliers that are in the “business” to win. Whether on the field of play, as is the case for Major League teams, or on the profit side of a balance sheet, the stark reality is that baseball is a business. To be profitable, organizations will do anything to control costs and maximize their ability to put more butts in the seats. Empty seats don’t buy tickets, eat hot dogs, buy t-shirts, or drink beer.
Here are the lessons I learned from my Winter Meeting/Job Fair experience:
- If you are a prospective job seeker, do go to the Winter Meetings and the Job Fair. As frustrating as the job posting and interview process can be you learn a lot and can meet a ton of people with knowledge about the “business” that you can’t pick up from a website, blog or book.
- Just because you have a lot of talent or experience, you still may not be what Minor League teams are looking for. Depending on the size of the team, their operation and their market (very important), the pay and talent they are looking for varies greatly. Some teams only offer college credit, while others pay upwards of $1500 a month for an intern. There are very few full-time positions posted.
- Most of the jobs are seasonal and targeting interns. So, if you’re not willing to relocate on an interim basis (three to nine months, depending on the job role) without the assurance of full-time employment, you best look elsewhere.
- Just because you’ve been an intern before doesn’t mean that you’ll get another internship or another job in baseball. Just like with on-field talent (the players), you will be competing against a new crop of “kids” each season who are entering the mix and willing to work for the wages being offered. That’s the stark reality of the business.
- Work the event. That means getting away from the workroom, the interview posting room and the job posting room. Yes, check back from time to time, but don’t set up roots. There’s a whole world of baseball happening at these events and it’s ripe with opportunities. Talk to people. Give them your business card. Listen, listen and do more listening. Baseball people are a gold mine of information.
- Come with business cards and resumes. (Enough said.)
- Go to the Winter Meetings Trade Show. You will meet people who are pretty much chained to their booths. They like talking about their companies and, if you are a mid-career free agent like myself, are interested in proven experience. Therefore, they may be looking for the talents you have that can impact their business. I got four job leads from “hitting the bricks” and talking to people at the Trade Show. Don’t skip it.
- Have fun. Get to know your fellow job seekers. Eat lunch or dinner with them. Hang out at the “watering holes” around the venue. There are a lot of good stories about why they are at the Job Fair, and hearing about their dreams for baseball is wonderful. For instance, I met one former Minor League pitcher who was looking to get into ticket sales for a Minor League team. His playing days were cut short due to two arm surgeries, but he still loved the game and now wanted to be part of the business. I’d hire him.
- Keep trying. If you didn’t land the position you wanted during the Job Fair, don’t stop trying. Keep “knocking on doors” and sending letters to teams. You never know when you’ll be in the right place at the right time. (Yes, even if you get lost in the Opryland Resort.)
I hope you enjoyed my daily reports as much as I enjoyed writing them. I want to thank Benjamin Hill and MiLB.com for allowing me to share my insights and experiences this year’s Winter Meetings and PBEO Job Fair.
Good luck to all the job seekers out there, and to all the organizations who are working hard every day to improve the game day experience.
Thanks, Jim, for sharing the lessons you learned.
By Jim Angell, special to MiLB.com
Throughout this year’s Winter Meetings in Nashville, four attendees of the PBEO Job Fair have agreed to chronicle their employment-seeking experiences (meet them all HERE.). In this, his third installment, Jim Angell investigates trends, plays the waiting game and meets Opryland angels.
Comfortable Shoes and Unexpected Angels
It’s true, people seldom look at your feet. If they do, they don’t remember what you were wearing. So, what do you do when you hang out in the interview posting room at the PBEO job fair? You watch feet. More precisely, the flow of job seekers as they scan the tack boards for their targeted jobs.
See, the tack boards are big enough to cut most people off at just about the knees. Thus, all you are left to notice are legs and feet. Simply fascinating if you’re interested in the fluid dynamics of crowds. I am not (well, sort of), but I do spot trends and today I noticed the trend to more comfortable shoes.
You really can’t blame the job seekers for seeking refuge for their tired toes and heels heading into the third day of the Job Fair. One, it’s a hike to get to the posting, work, and interviewing rooms. Two, there’s just a ton of walking to get anywhere in the Opryland Resort.
Pardon me for one digression: I met a lady today wearing workout clothes and commented to her that she was wearing the right stuff for getting around the resort. She agreed but asked if I knew the way to the gym. She was lost. (What a shocker!) After telling her that I was no help there, she scurried off in search of better fitness.
Okay, back to feet.
The trend in footwear today has begun to slide to the comfy side. Fewer high heels, more flats. (I raised two girls, so I know the lingo, boys). More casual men’s shoes and even a tennis shoe sighting was noted. There were suits and interview garb, but the look was definitely in decline.
As comfortable became vogue, the interviews ramped up as groups of job seekers waited nervously outside the interview rooms for their call to an appointed table. As for me and a handful of prospective hires, we hunkered down in the interview posting room wondering why the jobs we supplied resumes for were not interviewing yet.
According to one returning job hunter, some of the teams may not get around to interviews during the Winter Meetings. It depends on how busy they are. Makes sense…business first. So we shouldn’t be surprised that there may not be a face-to-face meeting in Nashville. Patience is key here but it does make for some long days not knowing when the interviews will be.
Today finished up a little early as interview posting quickly tapered off, sending all of us out of the convention center happy to know that we could finally kick off our shoes and put up our feet.
Here’s a tip to all of the future job seekers out there who are thinking about coming to the next Winter Meetings: You never know when you’ll meet angels who will be willing to help you in your job search.
It happened on my way out of the resort today, when I offered to help two women who were lost (it’s a trend). As we talked about the trials of traveling the Opryland trails, they asked why I was here. I told them that I was looking for a job after being cut just over a month ago.
They sympathized and began offering up suggestions about jobs in Major League baseball that I hadn’t thought about. They said you just have to get in. Then, as you get to know people and they know you, you can move around.
I asked what they did. One was married to a vice president of communications for a MLB team and the other was married to a gentleman in MLB. When they asked if I had a business card, I was floored. Me. They wanted to help me. Wow.
So, never say never folks. Angels do exist and they are everywhere at the MLB Winter Meetings.
I love how my days here are ending.
Will Jim feel the thrill of victory tomorrow? Or the agony of da feet? Stay tuned tomorrow.
By Jim Angell, special to MiLB.com
Throughout this year’s Winter Meetings in Nashville, four attendees of the PBEO Job Fair have agreed to chronicle their employment-seeking experiences (meet them all HERE.). In this, his second installment, Jim Angell rides the emotional roller coaster and channels his process-improvement self.
Day Two: Optimism Gained, Lost and Bill James (?)
Awaking to a warm morning glow, I prepared to venture onto the field of contest to test my mettle against a driven competitor.
If you read my “Day One” recap, you’ll know I had my issues with navigation through the Opryland Resort. But not today! Undaunted, I established a bridgehead (a better parking spot) and laid a course highlighted with way points (find Fuse sports bar, exit you will have, young Jedi).
So, armed with day one optimism, I trekked into the room where the job offers were posted and started preparing my resumes for submission with job number, job title and team name. All necessary for accurate delivery into the appropriate team binder/container. With optimism, each resume was sent forth.
Making sure I didn’t miss any potential opportunity, I backtracked over the job postings confident in my strategic selections. Then the waiting began.
Since I’ve waited a long time to get this Job Fair opportunity, waiting a bit longer to see if I was going to get an interview didn’t worry me much. But, as the day wore on, the process of stalking the interview posting room waiting for the all-important “interview” sheets to be revealed every 30 minutes became a stifling endeavor.
Still, you didn’t dare miss a reveal, because it could mean you could miss an interview or, if left off of a targeted job, you could cross that job off your list and mentally move on.
After half a day of watching job seekers perform the ritual over and over again through the scattered “interview” sheets, my process-improvement-self kicked. So, here are some suggested process improvements (with favorable approvals from other job seekers):
- Make the job posting, resume submission, and interview notification process “electronic” and “smart.” Most people today carry smart phones and have laptops. So, why can’t there be an app for this process? Maybe tie it into the Winter Meeting app.
- An all-electronic process accessible on both phones and laptops would make the process handicap-friendly. Not to mention making the postings easier to read for everyone. It’s hard enough to read 10-point type from a distance but when you have to look up at it, it’s almost impossible. Plus, with close to 700 people seeking jobs, there’s never enough room in between the tack boards used to display the job postings and interview sheets.
- Instead of paper submissions by teams, make them fill out an “on-line” form. This way text size and style is consistent, job numbers are automatically applied and all parties don’t have to deal with trying to read someone’s hand writing.
- Since we’re going electronic, post a “scoreboard” (idea from another job seeker) in the new workroom indicating to all what electronic interview sheets are ready to be filled in by those so selected. Or, have an alert chime telling people that new “sheets” have been posted.
- Establish a “Lunch” period where no job postings or interview postings can be made. That way all of the job seekers can go get something to eat and see a bit of the Winter Meetings without the fear of missing something.
As each 30-minute ritual revealed only swings and misses, the pendulum swung away from optimism for this job seeker. But as the PBEO staff shut things down for the night, ah, hope arrived with the kickoff of the Winter Meetings Trade Fair.
What a WONDERFUL sight it was walking into the display hall devoted solely to baseball. Wall-to-wall wow. A cornucopia of bobble heads, soft-t-balls, team t-shirts, bats, balls, pitching machines, popcorn mixed with Cheetos, mascots, beer (have to have beer) and so much more! Forget the bed back in the hotel room, I’m sleeping on an inflatable!
When I wasn’t drooling over a video scoreboard that would make any man-cave the talk of five counties, I took the opportunity to sell myself to select “baseball-stuff” companies.
All were quite nice to talk to me about possible employment and I even got a few hits. Like breaking out of a long hitting slump, that first solid liner to fall in felt SOOOOO good and I could tell Mendoza to take a hike. And look what returned: my friend optimism.
One point before I close: Optimism is not “the force” when you’re walking and checking your messages on your phone at the same time. We’ve all done it at one time or another, but this time I almost took out the statistical sage of our time…Bill James! Yes, Bill James! The father of modern baseball analytics!
So, do baseball a favor, don’t walk and text. The sole you may save could be Bill James’.
Will optimism remain with Jim, or will it remain a fickle friend? Stay tuned for tomorrow’s update.
By Jim Angell, special to MiLB.com
Throughout this year’s Winter Meetings in Nashville, four attendees of the PBEO Job Fair have agreed to chronicle their employment-seeking experiences (meet them all HERE.). In this, his first installment, Jim Angell finds inspiration and revels in the power of Winter Meetings happenstance.
Day One: A Good Start to a Great Experience
Martie Cordaro, the energetic president and general manager of the Omaha Storm Chasers, punctuated his 2015 PBEO Business of Baseball Workshop presentation by telling his job-seeking audience that without “committing to everything you do” for a team the resulting stark reality meant that “empty seats don’t eat hot dogs.”
The same commitment Cordaro spoke of can also be applied to finding a job in the business of baseball. Given that I’m a mid-career free agent, I can’t think of a better place to “go after it full speed” than here at the epicenter of the baseball world: the Baseball Winter Meetings and PBEO Job Fair!
It may have taken an unfortunate turn of events to get me here, but if it weren’t for the timing of my company deciding to downsize when it did, I would have missed this experience in Nashville. And day one was quite an experience.
It started on the drive to the Opryland Resort, when I stopped to pick up (who I thought was) a fellow job seeker walking to the event. As it turned out, I picked up Dr. Derek Papp, orthopedic surgeon for the Baltimore Orioles. Even the medical teams and trainers are at the Winter Meetings. How cool is that?
If you haven’t been to the Opryland, the place is impressive in its beauty and expanse – it even has a “river” which visitors can hitch a ride on. I did have to fall back on my land navigation skills to find the convention center, however. I admit that while I may have never got lost in the woods during my Army days, I did get lost three times in the hotel. (Yes, even with the help of the maps that are posted, it seems, every 20 feet.)
I won’t recap the entire day of workshop presentations, but the underlying theme I was that anyone can make it if they stay true to themselves and are honest about what they want to do and how they can make the fan experience the best it can be.
While there were moments of cold honesty about life in the business, the presenters and panelists were sowers of hope as well. Here are few of the seeds:
- “New and diverse perspectives are very valuable in baseball.” – Jennifer Zudonyi, manager of Major League Baseball (MLB) business communications.
- “Go after it full speed.” – Justine Siegal, Oakland Athletics coach.
- “Don’t discount what you did in the past.” – Giovanni Hernandez, MLB manager for international baseball operations.
- “Focus on how you can help the team.” – Robert Ford, radio broadcaster for the Houston Astros.
- “If you’re going to dream, dream big.” – Pat O’Conner, president and chief executive officer for Minor League Baseball.
Thank you, presenters, for a great first day. I learned a lot and I hope that others did as well.
As the workshop ended, my fellow job seekers and I posted for our first jobs. Hopefully, I’ll hear from someone on Monday for an interview. More jobs will be posted as well, so it is shaping up to be a busy day.
One final story before I sign off.
As I was trying to leave the resort for the night and checking another map (yes, lost again), a very nice woman asked if I was lost. While I was admitting that I was, I turned around to see none other than former Cubs pitcher Ryan Dempster standing next to her. Well, as a serious Cubs fan, the encounter made my day (sorry PBEO). After a little chat about baseball, jobs and his new career with MLB, we went our separate ways. But what a great couple! They didn’t have to talk to me, but they did and it made my night. I still got lost after that, but I sure felt good.
I should mention this to all job seekers who come to the PBEO Job Fair. While you may see all sorts of baseball players, former players, coaches, media types etc., don’t go out of your way to talk to them. They have a job to do and also value their free time when they are not working. Running into the Dempsters was some strange twist of fate and not the norm for the Winter Meetings.
Will Jim be able to find his way through the Winter Meetings maze on Monday? Stay tuned!
The Baseball Winter Meetings are scheduled to take place from Dec. 6-9 at the Gaylord Opryland hotel in Nashville, Tennessee. A key component of this multi-faceted and increasingly massive event is the annual PBEO Job Fair, in which industry aspirants seek to secure professional baseball employment.
Looking for a job at the Winter Meetings is equal parts exhilarating and maddening, as hundreds of seekers vie to land a geographically and economically appropriate position. Some are content with securing an internship — anything to get that proverbial foot in the door — while others have already gone this route and are now intent on full-time employment. Some are just out of (or still in) college, while others are taking a leap of faith by trying to break into baseball after having started out within a different line of work.
Every story is unique and worth sharing. In 2015, as during the previous three Winter Meetings, I will run a series of Job Seeker Journal guest posts on this blog (these will also be compiled and featured daily on MiLB.com). Therefore:
Are YOU attending the Winter Meetings as a Job Seeker?
Do you want to write about it?
If so, please get in touch — firstname.lastname@example.org — with a photo of yourself and the following information:
— Name, Age, Hometown, College, Twitter Handle (if applicable)
— Prior Sports Industry Experience (if applicable)
— Why do you want to work in baseball?
— Why do you want to write about it?
— One random fact about yourself (this can, literally, be anything)
Emails from interested Job Seeker Journal writers must be received within one week from today: the deadline is Tuesday, Dec. 1 at 5 p.m. ET. Three individuals will be chosen (selected by myself, with input from an esteemed group of MiLB.com colleagues), and introduced in Dec. 4’s “Minoring in Business” feature on MiLB.com. (This feature will include your answers to the above questions, similar to THIS, from last year). Selected journal writers will be responsible for writing four entries during the Winter Meetings, one for each day (Sunday through Wednesday).
This is a great opportunity to share your unique perspective on a baseball career rite of passage, and, who knows? The exposure you get from these journals could, for better or for worse, help separate yourself from what is always a crowded field of candidates.
If you have any questions, then do not hesitate to get in touch. Good luck and hope to hear from you!