Tagged: Sean Banks

Job Seeker Journals: Sean Banks Looks Back

I am currently recruiting PBEO Job Fair attendees to write about their Winter Meetings job-seeking experience. 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 Sean Banks, who, after stints both Midwest and international, is back on the baseball job hunt. 

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Sean Banks: 2014 Job Seeker Journals file photo

Minor League baseball is weird.

Where else can you find treasures like that seen above, except in a Minor League clubhouse?

I spent this past summer as an operations intern with the Beloit Snappers in Beloit, Wisconsin, and it was a wild ride. The Snappers’ internship was the second that I’d had in professional baseball, so I knew exactly what to expect in regard to hours and type of work. I met some great people, forging hopefully lifelong friendships full of laughter, joy and stories about tarp pulls in the most obscure of locations.

I didn’t get my Snappers’ internship during the Winter Meetings, however. I had interviewed with a few teams, but, frankly, I knew that nothing would come of them. I was still a bit unsure of exactly what I wanted to do, and interviewed for some positions that I wasn’t really “qualified” for but knew that I could do if given the opportunity. If I’ve learned anything about this industry, though, it’s that that doesn’t work. Teams want to see proof.

I returned to school empty-handed. A few days later, I was studying for a final exam and decided to be a real adult, take a “study break,” and re-apply for some of the same jobs I had seen and applied for at the Job Fair. Persistent? Definitely. Stupid? Probably.

I finished my exams and drove home to spend the holidays with my family before spending my final semester of college in the Dominican Republic. It was then that I received  a call from the Snappers. My phone interview took place my first day home for the holidays, and I was offered the job the next day. I decided to take the leap, and accepted the stadium operations internship.

Then, life happened.

I was set to start with the Snappers in May of 2015, after returning from my semester abroad and graduating from the University of Evansville (with a degree in music and a degree in Spanish). My study abroad program required a doctor’s clearance for me to be able to leave the country, and I wasn’t cleared. I’ll spare you the details, but suffice it to say I had to push my semester abroad to the fall of 2015 and spend the winter dealing with health tests and hospital visits. I got in contact with the Snappers and let them know that I could start in April instead of May, but would need to leave in late July para estudiar español (to study Spanish). Fortunately, I was able to walk with all of my best friends in my graduation ceremony in May because I had already completed my degree in music. Things ended up being okay, after all.

I arrived in Beloit on April 1st and got to scrubbing 2014’s dirt off of the concession stand walls. It was time for another season of Minor League Baseball in Wisconsin.

At the time, I was one of two interns due to the fact that the other four were in school until May. This was a unique experience for me, as I got to serve as a kind of special assistant to the Director of Stadium Operations because I was the only operations intern in town at the time. We learned the ins-and-outs of our ballpark and had become a fairly efficient team by the time May rolled around.

Once the other interns arrived and we were able to spread around a little more of the work, I was afforded the opportunity to spend time in the press box and learn about operating a media relations department.

Working with the media relations department while also doing all of my stadium operations duties was a dream. I have always been passionate about writing and baseball, so getting to write about baseball was great. And, on the other hand, stadium operations is what I know and what I’m good at. It was awesome.

However, all good things must come to an end, every door that closes opens another, and [insert your next favorite cliche here]. I departed from Beloit on July 23rd and prepared to live in a foreign country for four months.

I landed in Santo Domingo on July 27th and cleared customs without a problem. I settled in, blinked, and now here I am. I chose to study in the Dominican Republic because of baseball in general and specifically because Pedro Martinez is my favorite player of all time. It tears me up inside that I had to miss his January parade down El Malecón (Avenue George Washington), but it turned out to be a blessing in disguise. I got to spend time watching games at Estadio Quisqueya (the stadium in Santo Domingo that plays host to two Dominican Winter League teams: the Tigers of Licey and Lions of Escogido. We became Licey fans in our four months here.) When I wasn’t adventuring to Pico Duarte (the highest point in the Dominican Republic) or traveling to El Sur Profundo (the country’s southernmost peninsula), I spent my time taking classes at a local university and interning with Ruddy Ramirez’s Little League in Martinez’s “hometown” of Manoguayabo. It was at El Play (baseball field) San Miguel that he got his start in baseball.

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Summit Selfie at Pico Duarte

El Play San Miguel in Manoguayabo

El Play San Miguel in Manoguayabo

At the beginning of fall instructionals I had the opportunity to travel to the batey (town that surrounds a sugar plantation) of Guerra to work with the Kansas City Royals. I traveled via Guagua (not sure whether to call them small buses or large vans, but they were almost always as beat up and falling apart as they could handle) every Tuesday and Thursday. At the Royals academy, I would work one-on-one with players to help them learn English and about baseball in the USA. It was an absolutely incredible experience, as I was able to use my passion for baseball, ability to communicate (in two languages), and the skills that I acquired studying education for almost three years. It was a success, and I really enjoyed my time at the academy.

royalsAnd now, it’s back to the Job Fair. It is going to be strange to land in Nashville and be welcomed by the cold weather. But, to say the last eleven months were an adventure would be the understatement of the century. I will definitely miss the Dominican Republic, the friends that I’ve made here, and my host family most of all. But, I’m also ready to start my next adventure as a real life adult in a mystery location somewhere in the United States of America.

‘Toy listo salir pa’ Nashville ahora mismo. Hablamo’.

Thanks, Sean.

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

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Winter Meetings Job Seeker Journals: Sean Banks, December 10, 2014

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, his fourth and (for now) final installment, Sean Banks puts the proverbial bow on his 2014 Baseball Winter Meetings experience. 

Read all of Sean’s posts HERE

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My phone tells me that it is 35 degrees in Evansville, Indiana, this morning with a chance of a final exam. Who leaves San Diego for that?

I do. That guy sitting in the Atlanta airport for five hours pecking away on his laptop. Was leaving necessary? Maybe. Clinically insane? Definitely. At the time of writing this journal, I find myself searching for any logical reason to not go back to school today. I was about two rash decisions away from accepting an airline credit and giving up my seat on the plane from San Diego to avoid leaving, if only for a few more hours. Somewhere along the way I tweeted that these past few days constituted the best experience of my life. And that wasn’t an exaggeration.

It didn’t really sink in that we had to leave until we were putting our bags into storage at the hotel and heading to the Convention Center for the final few hours of the Job Fair. We crossed the train tracks and waited for the walk sign to tell us when we could safely cross. I don’t really take orders very well and got pretty tired of that machine yelling at me to wait every day. It’s fitting though, right? All we did in San Diego was wait…and then wait some more.

If you guys didn’t catch Ben’s Vine about the escalator at the Convention Center doubling as a portal into another dimension of space and time, you should definitely go check it out. But, despite its futuristic look, I could argue that it (the escalator) functions in much the same fashion. Once landed on the other side of the portal, an outsider would likely feel very out of place. The baseball world is full of interesting people, but add in a little desperation and a ton of passion, and someone who doesn’t understand the baseball world will think that he has slipped through a wormhole to another dimension. And that’s the best part.

Once we climbed the Stairway of Opportunity (I’m just full of ridiculous analogies and inspirational idiomatic expressions this morning), I found my name on another interview sheet and quickly signed up for a time. Then more waiting. And more $4 Cokes — they ran out of Dr. Pepper. I’ve always been good at interviewing so I don’t really get nervous anymore. I crushed the interview and now find myself wishing someone would hire me. I’m not bitter or frustrated…just impatient.

Waiting is a lot better with friends, though. And we made plenty of those while passing the time in between trips to the job posting and interview posting rooms. I had an online pre-departure meeting for my study abroad and learned that listening to six different people and paying attention to a PowerPoint presentation is essentially impossible. But, I made my best effort to do both because the relationships I have formed with people who enjoy baseball just as much as I do are more important than anything else that happened this weekend. I am a part of two fraternities on my campus, and many people say Minor League Baseball is like a fraternity. I definitely see the similarities. I’m just waiting to get initiated.

I’m already gushing about this experience, and I can’t wait to get home and tell everyone about it. It would be awesome if I had an email tomorrow morning with a job offer, but if I don’t I’ll still tell all of my friends and professors that this was the greatest experience of my life thus far. My only regret is that we couldn’t make it to the Gala on Wednesday evening. We didn’t make it to the Gala in Orlando either, and it was my fault both times. Or I guess you could blame my professors. I’m tired of finals. I’m tired of school. But it will all be over soon, and I’ll start my adventure of a career in Minor League Baseball. After all, who doesn’t like adventuring?

So stay classy, San Diego. And commence the countdown to the 2015 Baseball Winter Meetings in Nashville.

Thanks to Sean for taking the time to write about his 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! 

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

Winter Meetings Job Seeker Journals: Sean Banks, December 9, 2014

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, his third installment, Sean Banks revels in the present, thinks about his future, and gets himself in an L. Frank Baum frame of mind.  

Read all of Sean’s posts HERE

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If only Charlene could see me now.

The good luck Winter Meetings t-shirt served me well this afternoon in my noble quest to become a squire within the halls of Castle Minor League Baseball. I landed my first interview today and feel like I knocked it out of the park (like baseball, get it?). I will be awaiting my suitor’s call to take the next step.

After all, it’s a long, drawn-out process. Go to college, they said. Get a degree, they said. Apply for jobs, they said. Well, here I am applying for jobs and living the dream, taking interviews as they come and hoping for my first big break. Sounds like a pretty solid Tuesday.

I won’t bore you with the drab details of the morning. We got to the Convention Center in suit and tie and were prepared to take over the world. Not much was different today. It was a lot like yesterday. Lots of sitting. Lots of waiting. Lots of walking. Plenty of $4 Dr. Peppers. But, the time seemed to pass a little more quickly today. And for those of you still counting, I was the only one of my group of friends that had an interview. Put another mark in my win column.

What should not be lost in all of this Job Fair business, though, is that I completed all of the requirements for my health class today at the Convention Center and got my Music Literature paper turned in last night after a super long day. One week from today, I will have met all the requirements for a degree in music (provided I pass finals) and will be preparing to fly to the Dominican Republic for my study abroad and to obtain my Spanish degree. I grind at the Job Fair because I can’t wait to tell “them” how I made it. Ideally, I’ll land a job offer for a position when I get back from the DR in May and everything will be just a big mess of mushy happiness. Stay tuned for that.

Snap back to reality. Today went a lot like this: arrive, lunch, interview, sushi, bar. I’m a huge sushi fan so after the job posting room closed at five o’clock, we headed down to the marina to enjoy some raw fish by the water in the fresh air. Food always tastes a little better when you’ve had a good day. It’s also a lot easier to network. After dinner, we walked over to the Hilton and then to the Hyatt where we watched the Jon Lester news break in person and reconnected with some fellow job seekers who are trying just as hard to break in. I can’t get over how exciting this atmosphere is. I can’t get over how much I want to work in baseball for the rest of my life.

There is only one disappointing thing about this whole experience. And that’s that we have to go home tomorrow. Tomorrow night, I’ll catch a red-eye flight to Atlanta which will connect me to Evansville where, upon arrival, I’ll take the most demanding and, frankly, unnecessary final exam I’ve ever taken. Then I’ll have another final on Friday and a couple more after that. Here’s wishing the Winter Meetings were taking place all the time and we could all just live here. There’s definitely no place like home. Dorothy wasn’t wrong.

But home is where you make it. I came to the Job Fair, made the most out of these past few days, saw what I could and learned a lot. Up next? Wednesday at the Job Fair, where I hope to take the next steps toward finding my mess of mushy happiness in Minor League Baseball.

Toto, where you at, dawg?

Stay tuned for one more update from Sean this week, which will run on the blog Friday. (Thursday is a travel day for all involved in this endeavor).

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz 

Winter Meetings Job Seeker Journal: Sean Banks, December 8, 2014

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, his second installment, Sean Banks, references License to Ill-era Beastie Boys, scores some prime real estate and has a serendipitous Trade Show encounter. 

Read all of Sean’s posts HERE

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I missed two classes and no homework. But, fortunately most of my professors are reasonable people and not jerks. Give me a choice between Music Literature class and the MLB Winter Meetings, and I’ll take the Winter Meetings every time. Sorry Prof.

To say today was a long day is an understatement. I used to hear people tell stories about jet lag, and I never believed them. I don’t fly a lot and before this weekend, I had never been west of Kansas City. But, holy cow…I was tired all day.

At around 8:00 this morning, four cell phone alarm clocks went off simultaneously, and nobody moved a muscle. Then they went off again. And again. Then we started making moves. As a result of this sluggishness, we didn’t quite make it to the Convention Center right at 9:00. We rolled in at about ten minutes past the hour and headed straight for the interview posting room.

We got all the job offers just like I said we would.

Or none. We actually got none of the job offers this afternoon. In fact, Nate was the only one that even interviewed with teams today. But, for all of you keeping score, don’t chalk this one up as a loss quite yet. I may not have interviewed with any teams today, but I found a way to achieve many small victories.

The first victory of the day was laying claim to a small table right outside the job posting and interview posting rooms. Clutch. Once we got a hold of it, we protected it with sword and shield to save ourselves a lot of walking to and fro and to and fro. From that point forward, we searched for our names on the clubs’ “we want to interview you” lists and “best of luck, kid” job postings in shifts. Talk about a team effort.

So what’s the game plan going forward? Well, to be honest, I haven’t quite figured that out yet. Wait. And then wait some more.

But, while you’re waiting — network. And today was a great day for it. Another victory. We met many fellow job seekers, exchanged stories and business cards, and talked about what we thought Tuesday might entail. And who knew you could network at the Trade Show? I certainly didn’t, but we found a way to do it. I’d say we’re getting pretty good at this.

And while I’m on the topic of the Trade Show, I might as well talk about the Winter Meetings t-shirt I bought there. It truly was destiny. I’m not a large person. I wear small t-shirts—which shouldn’t really be a surprise to a lot of people. But, when I asked for a navy blue Winter Meetings t-shirt at the counter, the lady working the booth broke my heart. No more smalls. Alright, game over. I quit. I’m going home. Cue Charlene.

I had never met Charlene, but she was standing at the counter and had just bought the last small shirt. She didn’t hesitate to offer it to me and take a medium instead. Destiny. I was supposed to be at that counter at that time to luck into the t-shirt I really wanted. I’m only kind of superstitious…but that had to be a sign, right?! So, I’ll chalk this one up as a victory too.

As I’m writing this, I’m sure Darius, Katie, and Julie are writing about their experiences too. But, I’d say getting to meet up with them and Ben was a pretty big victory for tonight, as well. There are so many great, genuine people in this industry. It’s no wonder there are some 600 job seekers in attendance. These are my people.

It’s also pretty cool to be a little star-struck when you see all the big-name baseball guys and you can just pretend it’s normal. I don’t need to ask for a picture with Kevin Millar because he’s just a guy.  I think if I keep telling myself that, I might eventually believe it.

I’d like to leave you with a profound thought from this fine Monday at the Winter Meeting. As a result of working the job and interview posting rooms in shifts, there were a few times when I was the only guard on duty. I took that opportunity to observe and listen to other people’s conversations (it’s not weird, I promise). Some interesting quotes:

Mystery Job Seeker 1: “Hey! What are you guys up to?”

Mystery Job Seeker 2: “Oh, you know…just hunting.”

Mystery Job Seeker 3: “Any luck?”

Mystery Job Seeker 4: “Not yet. Maybe tomorrow.”

What sums up this experience so far? I don’t think I can say it any better than these mystery job seekers. We have to keep hunting…and get right back at it tomorrow.

Hasta mañana, amigos. 

Much more to come from Sean, and his three fellow Job Seeker Journal writers, tomorrow. The hunt continues.

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz 

Winter Meetings Job Seeker Journals: Sean Banks, December 7, 2014

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, his first installment, Sean Banks overcomes early morning adversity, recognizes the cliches and soaks in the atmosphere. 

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I stepped in a puddle.

My Winter Meetings experience got off to a great start when I stepped out of the door in the gloomy mist in Evansville, Indiana into a puddle approximately the size of the San Diego Bay. I thought for sure the whole trip was doomed when I had to go change my socks before heading to the airport at 4:30 in the morning.

But, fortunately, the plane didn’t come crashing down, and we landed safely at 1:30 p.m. Pacific Time on Saturday afternoon. After getting settled in the hotel and exploring Gaslamp Quarter/spending our Indiana money on California dinner, Blake, Nate (my co-job-seekers for the weekend) and I met my cousin Brendan— a Navy officer here in SoCal—and enjoyed the time we had before the Job Fair activities began in earnest.

But, enough about not-Winter-Meetings-Job-Fair stuff.

Let’s talk about Winter-Meetings-Job-Fair stuff. Nate and I went to Orlando last year so this isn’t our first time rubbing our lucky rabbits’ feet and throwing salt over our shoulders before shipping off our resumes to a foreign land never to be seen again. We are hoping to hear from potential employers who happen to inhabit those places and might let us know that our resumes are safe and won’t be harmed. We’re hoping our qualifications will be sufficient for a couple clubs. Or thirty.

Unlike last year, we didn’t need to register on-site so we showed up to the Business of Baseball Workshop about 15 minutes early and found some seats in the second row to absorb all the knowledge we possibly could. I broke out my favorite Pilot G-2 pen and notepad and got set to learn how to become the next president of Minor League Baseball…or maybe I’m getting ahead of myself.

I was excited to hear Rob Crain, President and General Manager of the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders, speak and emcee the workshop for the second year—that guy gets it (even though he told the same stories). I hope someday to be as charismatic and forward as Rob. Oh, and it would be cool if I could be that successful someday, too. I made sure to pay particular attention to anyone with advice about or knowledge of baseball’s international operations. I will be studying in the Dominican Republic this coming spring so I found Giovanni Hernandez’s presentation (Manager of International Operations with Major League Baseball) to be particularly interesting because of the stories he shared about his time in the DR.

I hope I’m not out of line in saying that I’ve heard it all before: The hours are long. You have to network. Be yourselfYou have to pull the tarp.

Now’s the time to put it all in motion. In the job-posting room, I wrote down all the positions that made sense for my timeline and for which I wanted to apply. I wrote neatly on all my resumes and put them in their respective boxes like a good little direction-follower. And now the fun part — waiting. Nate and I described the process to Blake and Chris (our fourth hotel-mate who showed up during lunch), and I realized then that waiting really is the worst part. You know that terrible anxiousness you experience on Christmas Eve? Yeah…that.

But, I love this environment. We walked over to the Hyatt after finishing up at the Job Fair and talked a little with Joe Maddon (or maybe just took a picture). We also rubbed elbows with Curt Schilling and Bud Selig (maybe they just walked by us). I didn’t end up with a job as a result of last year’s Winter Meetings in Orlando, but I didn’t get discouraged or frustrated. These are my people. The experience was worth the price of admission.

So, hopefully we show up to the job-posting room these next few days and walk away with all the job offers. But, if we don’t, I refuse to leave frustrated with my time in beautiful San Diego. My experience with the Evansville Otters in the independent Frontier League came as a result of not finding a job with an affiliated club in Orlando. I’m resourceful, and I know if I stay positive, I’ll make it happen. It’s all about attitude, right?  I’m ready for whatever comes my way.

Let the games begin.

Much more to come from Sean, and his three fellow Job Seeker Journal writers, on Tuesday. The games have only just begun. 

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz