By Tori Payne, 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, her fourth and final installment, Tori Payne solidifies friendships, gains confidence and gets an unexpected free lunch.
Wow. I cannot believe that this week has come to an end. My new friend Connor described today as akin to “the last few rounds of the MLB draft, when the choices are slim and viewers lose interest.” I’m not saying that the job seekers remaining (including myself) were any less qualified, but everyone seemed to be tired and losing interest in the process. The interview posting room had been stripped and new jobs were not being posted. It was evident that the Meetings were coming to a close, and the job seekers still on the premises knew that last minute impressions were their only opportunity.
On Wednesday, I came in to the Gaylord Opryland Convention Center stoked for my scheduled interview. I had been looking forward to speaking with this team for the past two days, and my nervous energy was turning into eagerness. I received some last-minute interview tips from my new friend Brooke before she headed out to see her new home in North Carolina (she got a job with the Greensboro Grasshoppers), and then waited for my first and only time in the interview room.
While biding my time, a woman stopped by and asked the waiting interviewees if we were “getting a job today?” I noticed her tag had the name of the team I was about to interview with. Too many times during this process I had been too afraid to speak up to people of interest, so I smiled and said, “Hopefully! I am about to interview with your team, actually.” Her game face came on, and she began questioning me on the spot about my goals and experience. I liked it. I love being challenged, and this impromptu conversation readied me for my interview with her other two employees. It went great. Both men seemed interested in my experience and answered my questions with humor and honesty.
After my interview, the group of people that I have been hanging around with – a group of people that I now call friends – went to one last lunch together. While at a sports bar in the Center, we were watching ESPN and MLB Network detail the Winter Meetings that we were attending. After ordering the food, a man I recognized from the television approached our table. He smiled and said, “You guys don’t eat much but I paid for your food. It is all free! Enjoy!” It was Harold Reynolds. The retired MLB second baseman and current TV analyst had noticed our group of young job seekers and casually decided to make our day by paying for our lunch. That was special.
After lunch, I met up with Ben and the other Job Seeker Journal writers one more time, bringing our excursion to an end. As I was about to do my exit video interview (again, it is probably embarrassing so no judgment), I got a call from the team I interviewed with and they wanted to run some things by me in the interview room. When I went back, they introduced me to another employee and expressed interest in me. While I did not receive the official offer, they did want me to begin thinking about the money and moving situations and if that were something I would consider. They also mentioned a possible stadium visit. I cannot adequately express to you how amazing I felt in that moment.
So much came out of the Winter Meetings that I am incredibly thankful for. Not only did I receive interest from one team, but I was also called later in the day to schedule an interview with another team tomorrow (even though the Winter Meetings have concluded). I had the awesome opportunity to receive guidance from Ben Hill, and got to express myself along with the other Job Seeker Journal writers (all of whom will do great things in baseball, I’m sure of it). I was able to network with old and new connections. And, most importantly, I made some great friends who share my passion for baseball. Thus far, I’ve had the opportunity to work in the music and sports industry. While they are both entertaining, I gravitate to the sports and baseball industry more. This week I realized why: Even though it is competitive, it is not a cutthroat industry. People of success also want you to succeed. Professionals are willing to give you tips and your colleagues are willing to celebrate with you when you triumph. If the 2015 Winter Meetings were in any way a glimpse into the future of baseball, I can tell you personally that the industry is in good hands.
Thanks, Tori, for providing such a heartfelt and observant take on your Winter Meetings experience.
By Tori Payne, 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, her third installment, Tori Payne jumps the gun, gets a confidence boost and celebrates success.
Remember when I was so excited to see my name on the interview sheet? Well, I obviously was so excited that I misread the date of my interview. It was for Wednesday, not Tuesday. When I arrived at the PBEO Job Fair this morning, I was ready to go for my interview at 11 a.m. I even ran into Lara Juras and Vincent Pierson, two of the professionals I have been connecting with since the Diversity Symposium, and expressed my excitement. Then, I walked into the interview sheet room to check who I was interviewing with, and BAM! Right place, wrong day.
Although I was understandably bummed, I still wanted to make the most of the day. Because the rate of jobs and interviews being posted was very slow, I decided to take a walk around and see if I recognized anyone. The Opryland Convention Center is extremely large – I honestly have gotten lost at least five times – but somehow I still saw Vanderbilt coach Tim Corbin talking with someone from a distance. It was nice to see a familiar face among the eager crowd. Afterwards, Brooke, whom I had met the day before, asked me to go to the Trade Show with her again. She introduced me to the coolest company, Baseball Lacelets. The wife of a baseball player in the Red Sox organization and her cousin take the old laces out of gloves and recreate them into a branded or personalized bracelet. As a souvenir, I bought one with the quote, “You’re killin’ me Smalls.” It’s a baseball classic.
Around 2:00, I began to get discouraged. I understand that everyone has worked hard and has the passion for baseball, but it is still tough to see your hard work and passion be overlooked while others are receiving multiple interviews a day. Right when I was about to leave for the day, a professional from a team in the California League approached me. I had bumped into him yesterday, and he had asked for my resume. I didn’t think I was qualified for the job because of my graduation date, but I handed it over anyway. He asked me to meet him at 4:00, and I gladly obliged. Our meeting was incredible. I was able to explain my skills and experience and he described the learning environment and job opportunities that I desire. After our conversation, my confidence surfaced. No matter what ends up happening, I know that my skill set can be – and one day soon hopefully will be – appreciated by a baseball club.
After the day, some new friends and I planned to go to dinner in Nashville and I was designated as tour guide. However, as Brooke and I were driving into the city, she got THE call: the Greensboro Grasshoppers were hiring her. I’ve never been a part of a moment like that, but it was an indelible experience to watch someone reach their dreams. Time got away from us and we accidentally missed dinner with friends, but we still celebrated with jalapeno margaritas, queso and tacos.
What was the highlight of my day, you wonder? Other than the surprise interview, it was seeing Joe Girardi. Twice. He looked a little lost, and I don’t know my way around the building so I couldn’t help, but I still gawked just a little. I pulled myself together in time for his entourage to pass the second time, but it was a pretty neat experience. It’s not every day you see baseball legends in the flesh.
Stay tuned tomorrow for the exciting conclusion of Tori’s Nashville adventures. Will she get a job? See another baseball legend in the flesh? Enjoy another jalapeno margarita? All will be revealed.
By Tori Payne, 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, her second installment, Tori Payne overcomes fatigue, makes new friends, ogles celebrities and gets a confidence boost.
Whoever said “Sleep is overrated this week” on the first day at the workshop was telling the truth. Combining 9 hours a day networking and job-hunting with finishing up my fall semester as a senior is a tough task. My senior portfolio kept me up Sunday night until 4 a.m., so I may or may not have been mistaken for a zombie when I first entered the workroom this morning. Luckily, the excitement in the room gave me a burst of energy.
This experience reminds me a lot of the first week of college, when you can walk up to anyone in the cafeteria and ask to sit with them and it’s not completely creepy. When I first got to the workroom I didn’t recognize anyone, so I introduced myself to a few girls sitting at a table. Together, we took on the day of waiting. Waiting for jobs to be posted, waiting on interviews to be posted, waiting on people to make decisions…Just a lot of waiting. I began to get a little discouraged because, of the twenty jobs I had put a resume in for, only two had posted interview schedules. Other people were racking up six interviews for the day, and I had yet to receive one!
In order to keep my sanity, I decided to concentrate on the networking side. I met an awesome girl from Texas named Brooke. She has worked in the Minor Leagues and gave me some tips and names to network with. At lunch, we trekked to the other side of the hotel and found ourselves in the epicenter of baseball executives. It took everything in us to not to run up and introduce ourselves to those we recognized, but we sure wanted to. After lunch, I had the opportunity to meet Mark Deaver, an MLB Network director. We had been connected through a mutual friend and wanted to meet in person while in the same place. He knew EVERYBODY. As we spoke, he pointed out who was around me: Cal Ripken (I recognized him, of course), the Yankee sideline reporter, the White Sox general manager, and the Atlanta Braves outfielder that also played for the Falcons. He even took me into the TV van so I could see where the show was being created. It was incredible.
Around 4:00, I went to the interview schedule room and saw something incredible: my name on a sheet. My confidence spiked. It always feels good when someone recognizes your accomplishments, especially among this talented group of people. To end the day, a group of friends (I think I can already call them that) and I went by the Trade Show. We were like kids in a candy store, but just big kids running around for free food and drink-holder gadgets.
So after the first day, I am tired, no doubt. But I also am excited. Excited for my interview, excited to meet people, and excited to see where my journey takes me.
Will Tori land more interviews? See the inside of more vans? Score more free gadgets? Stay tuned.
By Tori Payne, 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, her first installment, Tori Payne makes new connections and survives a crustacean-related mishap.
A whirlwind. Today was a whirlwind.
Here is a little backstory as to how I got to attend the PBEO Job Fair: I am in college (a.k.a. “I am poor”), so my mom was going to surprise me by paying my way. Unfortunately, Google failed her and she bought me entry to a different job fair and the payment was nonrefundable. However, a couple of weeks later, I stumbled into the Diversity and Leadership Symposium held by Minor League Baseball at Tennessee State University. During lunch I turned in my resume and somehow won a trip to go to the PBEO Job Fair at the Winter Meetings. It’s funny how life works…
If describing how I felt when I walked into the Business of Baseball Workshop, “overwhelmed” would be an understatement. Hundreds of people of all ages were ready to go, looking snazzy in suits and resumes galore. The worst part: Everyone was NICE! Of course I’m kidding that that is a negative thing, but this is a really interesting environment to meet intelligent, experienced and kind people that, also, want to fight you for the same position. At school I stick out because I want to work in baseball; here, I’m just one of many. After finding a seat, I quickly made friends with a group of young men who allowed me to follow them around all day. We laughed, we ate and we learned a lot about the business of baseball from some of the funniest professionals I have ever met.
Before the doors to the Job Fair opened, I received a miracle: a ticket to the banquet from a connection I had made at the Diversity Symposium. This gave me the confidence and energy boost to make it through my first round of resume dropping. Even though my final senior portfolio for the semester is due tomorrow, I knew that the banquet wouldn’t disappoint. And I was right. I got to reconnect with great people from Minor League Baseball that I had met at the Diversity Symposium: Vince Pierson, Stefanie Loncarich and a few others. I think I even saw the notable Mike Veeck from a distance; I happened to recognize him from the book cover of Fun is Good (which I’d recommend to all baseball lovers). Basically, the entire industry was stuffed into one room, so when I decided to sit at a table comprised of girls “about my age,” I never would have guessed that I was sitting next to the general manager and assistant general manager of the Pulaski Yankees. My table also included the president of the Carolina League and the president of the Appalachian League. I was just hanging out with a bunch of people that I want to be one day. I even saved Carolina League president John Hopkins from eating the spiced apple (that looked like fried potatoes) along with his chicken. You may be wondering what the best part of my night was and I would say that it was when no one noticed – or at least no one acknowledged – when the tail of my shrimp catapulted into the middle of the table because I was trying to cut it with a knife. Classy.
I ended my night by meeting Ben Hill and the other Job Seeker Journal Writers. They are all so cool. When you watch my interview video, though, please do not judge me for my taste in music. Now that I have time to think about Ben’s question of “What is the greatest album of all time?”, I would rival my answer with Adele’s 21 or Taylor Swift’s 1989. I was under pressure. Keep that in mind.
Stay tuned tomorrow for another installment of Tori’s job-seeking adventure.
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!