I am currently recruiting PBEO Job Fair attendees to write about their Winter Meetings job-seeking experience (but not for much longer!) With that in mind, throughout the week I’m running guest posts from last year’s crop of Job Seeker Journal writers. Today we hear from Katie Carlson, who is now on the East Coast after a stint on the West.
What a year it has been! Memories come flooding back as I recall my first Winter Meetings experience; the friends I made, and the lessons I learned. I loved attending the Winter Meetings, and had every intention of packing my bag for Nashville come December. But, to quote the great Yogi Berra, “If you come to a fork in the road, take it.” I did just that.
Instead of heading to Nashville for more networking and job seeking, I packed up my life in San Francisco and moved cross country to New York City, where I recently began a job as a National Team Coordinator for the World Baseball Classic. My office is in the Commissioner’s Office, and I am fortunate to be working with Major League Baseball, the Player’s Association and the World Baseball-Softball Confederation to prepare for the 2016 Qualifiers and 2017 World Baseball Classic. I am absolutely loving my job and all my coworkers, and starting to settle in to the hustle and bustle of the Big Apple.
But let me backtrack a little bit. If you remember, last year I was a senior at Stanford who left the Winter Meetings with a lot of uncertainty about the future. The only thing I knew was that I was even more certain that I wanted to have a career in baseball. Though I did not leave the Winter Meetings with a job in hand, I still believe the experience was 100% worth it. What was valuable to me about the Winter Meetings was the panels, presentations and networking. In fact, some of the people who spoke on panels last year, and who I admired so much, are now my superiors. Funny how things come full circle. Knowing that I wanted to work in Baseball Ops, the Job Fair was not very helpful for me, since it mainly deals with Minor League jobs. My best advice for someone attending this year who wants to work in Baseball Ops is to proactively set up meetings with people in various organizations. Even if these meetings are just informational, you never know where they may lead.
In January of last year, I was approached by the San Francisco Giants to interview for a position in their Baseball Ops department. The reason they remembered me? I had networked with several people in the department over the course of the last year. After several rounds of interviews, I was hired as the Baseball Operations Intern for the 2015 season! It was a dream come true and I treasured every day that I got to walk to 24 Willie Mays Plaza for work. I began my internship in April, while I was still at Stanford, working from 9 to 6 while taking classes from 7 to 9. It was a grind, but I had never been happier. From Opening Day, when all Giants employees were given orange carnations to wear, to bowling with the scouts before the Draft to calling in some of the Giants’ picks on Draft Day, I had the most amazing experience. I am so grateful to everyone in the Giants organization who welcomed me and took me under their wing. I learned more in my seven months with the team than I would have ever imagined.
But all good things come to an end. Since 2015 is an odd year, the Giants did not make the playoffs and the season ended in early October. I began preparing myself for more job applications and interviews and for a trip to the 2015 Winter Meetings. But just before my internship was about to end, one of my supervisors advised me to apply for this opportunity with Major League Baseball. I was so excited about the opportunity that I applied that night. And here, one month later, I am writing to you from New York!
You never know where this crazy baseball life is going to take you. A year ago, I never would’ve guessed that my life would go on this trajectory, but I am so grateful that I have been guided along this path. I have met the most wonderful people and I feel so fortunate that baseball brought these people into my life. I have gotten to live in Cape Cod, Los Angeles, San Francisco and now New York. And now I will get to travel the world (Mexicali here I come!) while doing what I love. Good luck to all those attending the Winter Meetings and the Job Fair — it truly is an incredible journey. Thank you to Ben Hill and all of you who have taken the time to read along.
Throughout this year’s Winter Meetings in San Diego, four attendees of the PBEO Job Fair agreed to keep a journal chronicling their employment-seeking experiences (meet them all HERE.). In this, her fourth and (for now) final installment, Katie pounds the pavement one last time before returning to a world of optimistic uncertainty.
Read all of Katie’s posts HERE.
I had some free time this morning, and did not have much planned for the day, so I sat down at a table in the Hyatt and began writing down my takeaways from this week. I wrote about uncertainty, which is something that plagues all of us job seekers. Coming into the Winter Meetings, I was uncertain what to expect. I was uncertain if I would be able to meet anyone in Baseball Operations. I was uncertain if anything would come out of this. Taking the initiative to come to Winter Meetings was scary because it is one of the largest steps I could take to really put myself out there in the baseball world, and with putting yourself out there comes uncertainty and fear of failure.
My day was filled with uncertainty and many twists and turns. Initially when I sat down to write, I said that “things were calming down a bit” as the week progressed. Boy did I speak too soon. My day took a 180, and I lined up four meetings at the last minute. I even decided to take a later flight back to school.
I got to the Hyatt at 8:30 am, and met up with one of the agents I worked for last summer. I thought our meeting would just be to catch up, but instead he very kindly offered to put me in contact with a few people in Baseball Ops for a couple of organizations. He also encouraged me to look at the 2014 Baseball America Directory, which has all the names and contact information for every MLB front office. I hustled over to the Trade Show and grabbed a copy of my own. I then made my last trek back to the Hyatt. (Thank God because I’m not sure how much more my feet could take!)
Then I had back-to-back-to-back-to-back meetings. Some were informational, while some were more like interviews that ended with a plan to remain in touch in the coming weeks. Maybe an internship would be in my future. Again, I’d like to reiterate what I said on Day Three: I have been so surprised and grateful to all the people who have been so open with me about their experiences in baseball, and I am shocked by the kindness that everyone has exhibited.
As you’re reading this, I have already flown back to Stanford, taken my final exam, and am probably on my flight back to San Diego for Winter Break. So I’m kind of back where you first met me — on my way to San Diego, still looking for a job, still facing uncertainty. But this time I’m certain about one thing: A career in baseball is for me. Just like my job seeking process, there’s a lot of uncertainty and circumstances that cannot be predicted in baseball. You may have a rain delay. Heck, you might even have a bee delay! But as one of my favorite movies, Fever Pitch, puts it, “At 1:05 or 7:05, there is a game. And if it gets rained out, guess what? They make it up to you. Does anything else in your life do that?” Even though you may be thrown a curveball, everything works out in the end. That ended up being my day today, and I hope that happens for my long-term career as well.
Thanks to Katie for taking the time to write about her job-seeking experiences throughout the Winter Meetings. We’ll check back in with her, and her three employment-seeking compatriots, later in the offseason. Stay tuned!
Throughout this year’s Winter Meetings in San Diego, four attendees of the PBEO Job Fair have agreed to keep a journal chronicling their employment-seeking experiences (meet them all HERE.). In this, her third installment, Katie Carlson reflects on how a little kindness goes a long way.
Read all of Katie’s posts HERE.
On Day One, one of the most important messages that speakers got across to us was how the baseball industry is truly about connecting with people and creating memories. As I listened to my favorite country music on the drive home tonight, I couldn’t help but feel nostalgic that tomorrow is the last day of the Winter Meetings. I don’t know what I expected coming into this week, but my experience has exceeded my wildest dreams.
I’m in a different position than most job seekers. Because I am still in college and will be graduating in June (Stanford is on the quarter system), I am somewhat limited regarding the types of jobs for which I can apply. There are few jobs in the Job Postings room that fit my schedule, and even fewer in baseball operations (though I am also interested in media relations and would be thrilled to work with a team in that capacity as well). Because of this dilemma, I really haven’t spent much time in the Job Postings room this week. As I wrote yesterday, I’ve spent most of my time networking and hoping that a job may come out of it down the road. What I did not realize coming into Winter Meetings was how willing people would be to spend the time to help little old me, giving advice and helping me in any way that they can. These people are making blockbuster deals and still take the time to sit down with me. All I can say is Wow and Thank you from the bottom of my heart.
I started off the day by grabbing coffee with an Assistant General Manager for an MLB club. He gave me some great advice. Within Baseball Ops there are various specialties — Scouting, Player Development, Analytics and more general management, for example. He said to try to narrow down which department I wanted to be in, and focus on getting as much experience in that area as possible. That means taking online classes in statistical modeling if I want to go into analytics, or creating a blog and going out to scout as many high school/college/minor league games as possible. Learning more about one particular area would help make you a specialist, which would make you more valuable to an organization.
In the afternoon I met with a family friend, who has been so unbelievably helpful in guiding me through the networking process. He has known my dad since college, and is one of those guys who seems to know absolutely everyone. He has brokered several meetups for me and continues to go above and beyond. I only hope that one day I can repay these people or pay it forward to others dreaming of breaking into the industry. Sorry to be all sentimental, but I really mean it.
Between my various coffee dates, I resigned myself to a spot at the bar and attempted to study for my final exam on the neurological processes underlying auditory and visual perception. Sounds thrilling, right? Definitely not the easiest thing to do when Kevin Millar and Aubrey Huff are standing at the bar next to you.
I tried to last as long as possible at the Hyatt lobby bar, getting as much networking in as possible before I depart tomorrow, but as I’m sure everyone who is attending Winter Meetings can attest, it is very draining. I spent a lot of time talking with my coworkers from Beverly Hills Sports Council again today. I was extremely fortunate to have worked with such an ambitious, yet kind and passionate, group of people last summer, and it has been great to reconnect with them. As I said at the beginning of this post, the baseball industry is really special because of the people. Being able to reconnect with past co-workers, meet fellow job seekers and learn from professionals has been an invaluable experience. Everyone is united by the love of the game. As the great Tommy Lasorda said, “It’s a wonderful feeling to be a bridge to the past and to unite generations. The sport of baseball does that, and I’m just a part of it.” I hope that this is just the beginning, and that I will be lucky enough to be part of baseball for many years to come.
Stay tuned for one more update from Katie this week, which will run on the blog Friday. (Thursday is a travel day for all involved in this endeavor).
Throughout this year’s Winter Meetings in San Diego, four attendees of the PBEO Job Fair have agreed to keep a journal chronicling their employment-seeking experiences (meet them all HERE.). In this, her second installment, Katie Carlson explores new possibilities, catches up with old friends and hob-nobs with the A-listers.
Read all of Katie’s posts HERE.
Network. Network. Network.
That was one of the main messages of yesterday’s seminar, and today that was my main focus. I started off the day attending Gio Hernandez’s workshop about International players’ road to the majors. I had never really thought about the possibility of working for the Commissioner’s office until I came to Winter Meetings, but after listening to Gio and talking to a few others, the Commissioner’s office sounds like an amazing opportunity. Not only is it an opportunity to work in baseball ops, but it’s an opportunity to get exposure to a variety of ball clubs and learn about all the rules and regulations that govern drafting and signing players. That’s a pretty valuable thing to understand, if you ask me! I made sure to introduce myself after the presentation and let him know how helpful his talk was for me.
After the workshop, I headed back to the convention center for a bit to check out new job listings and see if any interviews had been posted (none of the teams I applied for today posted interview schedules). In the postings area, I ran into an intern I knew from the Y-D Red Sox in Cape Cod. I also got to meet with one of my amazing bosses at Beverly Hills Sports Council.
Before coming to the Winter Meetings, I reached out to a few contacts to see if they could introduce me to anyone in baseball ops who may have any advice for me. Thank you Coach Dean Stotz for all your help! Thanks to him, I was able to connect with Phillies GM and fellow Stanford Cardinal, Ruben Amaro Jr. Mr. Amaro was so gracious with his time, even after I could not find him in the lobby bar and started to freak out that I had missed the opportunity to meet one of the people in baseball that I admire the most. Fortunately for me, he was very understanding and I was able to shadow him as he completed rounds of TV and radio interviews. What a smart and down to earth guy. Friends with so many people, he stopped to talk to everyone who came over to say hello.
The next stop I made was the Trade Show, where I specifically wanted to talk to one company that I had heard so much about (watch out for them guys, they’re the next big thing in video scouting!). OnDeck Digital premiered in the Cape League this past summer and they provide amazing footage of high school and college prospects, and will soon be expanding. I was lucky to talk to them at the Trade Show, and run into CEO Randy Flores at the bar later in the night. We’re both such enthusiastic people that it was really to fun to talk with him about our various exploits in baseball.
A special way to end the night was the chance to meet my fellow Job Seeker Journalists and the one and only Ben Hill. It was so nice to put a face with a name and to learn about everyone else’s Winter Meeting experience. Each one of us comes from a different baseball background and is looking for a job in a different area. I can’t wait to see where everyone goes in the coming months and years.
There will be more to come from Katie, and her three fellow Job Seeker Journal writers, on Wednesday. Stay tuned…
Throughout this year’s Winter Meetings in San Diego, four attendees of the PBEO Job Fair have agreed to keep a journal chronicling their employment-seeking experiences (meet them all HERE.). In this, her first installment, Katie Carlson shares the highlights of an inspiring first day at the Winter Meetings.
“He gets to come to the ballpark everyday and get paid for it? That must be the greatest job in the history of the universe.”
I think Todd “Parney” Parnell echoed all of our thoughts when he explained to the job seekers his “aha” baseball moment, when he realized at ten years old that he wanted to work in Minor League Baseball. At the end of a very exciting, very long day, reminding me of the awe and joy I feel every time I set foot inside a ballpark to work another game was the perfect closing. The Business of Baseball Workshop kicked off this morning, and it was worth every second and every dime. The speakers who took the time to offer their advice were some of my personal baseball idols, and others soon became people who I aspire to be as well.
If you spotted a girl taking copious notes during each presentation, that was probably me, and not just because, I’ll admit it, I’m a nerd, but because I would also love to share the advice I received today with all of you. There were several themes that transcended each speaker’s presentation —network with others as much as possible, get an expertise that makes your opinion more valuable, identify what makes you unique, and learn how to sell (ticket sales, group sales, corporate sales, etc.) because you will be doing it at every level of an MiLB career.
Several sessions stood out to me in particular. First, I want to thank Giovanni Hernandez for the special shout out to us four job seekers! Your presentation definitely stood out, and was extremely helpful in covering what to do once you get an internship. Giovanni explained that internships are like an extended audition for a full-time job, and he gave many tips including “mouth shut/ears open” and go beyond what’s required of you. (“If you’re asked to do A, B and C, come up with D, E, and F too.”)
“Who Needs a League of Their Own? Women at the Top of the Game”, was an extraordinary opportunity to hear from some of the top women in the baseball industry. Being a young woman aspiring to go into Baseball Operations, I know that breaking into the industry will be a challenge, and I admire these women so much for paving a path for people like me. As Kim Ng said, “It’s a fraternity out there. Hopefully by doing panels like this we can inspire women that they can do it too”. You definitely inspired me, so thank you! Something that felt particularly relevant was Kate Cassidy’s comment that “a common female trait is to help everybody” but you have to “make sure not to stoop to a level that is below you.” Know the job that you are supposed to do, and do it. Go above and beyond, but do not let people push you around. Another big topic was overcoming the fear of failure. Jean Afterman explained, “I’m uncomfortable 80% of the time and you just have to overcome that. Manage the fear that you are going to fail. Nut up and overcome it.” Definitely one of my favorite quotes of the day!
Being the kind of nerdy baseball fan who asked for a subscription to Baseball America for my birthday, I was particularly thrilled to listen to John Manuel. The magazine’s approach, writing from a scouting and player development focus, is the kind of analysis that I love. Listening to him talk about broadcasting the First-Year Player Draft for the first time in 2002 fascinated me since I listen to every round of the draft. (Yes, even those “boring” late rounds that are only on the radio.) John also shared advice for what he looks for in employees, explaining, “I respect preparation and people who know the game.” It is important to have the expertise —“immerse yourself in [the game], do research. I expect a level of passion for the game.”
After the workshop was over, I tried to put all that advice into action, checking out the Job Postings room, submitting my resumes for several opportunities, and then heading over to the hotel bar with some interns I worked with last summer at Beverly Hills Sports Council, as well as with some new friends I met today. It always amazes me how much I enjoy talking to others who are knowledgeable about baseball. I’m excited to head back tomorrow to meet more job seekers and professionals.
There will be much more to come from Katie, and her three fellow Job Seeker Journal writers, on Tuesday. Congrats to all four journal writers for producing what was, in my opinion, a fantastic Day One recap. One down, three to go!