Before I ever got into the “biz,” I had a certain vision of the baseball Winter Meetings.
To me, the Winter Meetings were a time when all of baseball’s general managers sat around a gigantic table and talked trades (yes, I really believed that was how it worked).
Well, having worked in sports for a few years, I now know this isn’t the case. Rather, the baseball Winter Meetings are about business, and only a small part of that is what happens on the field. Last year, I decided to go to my first Winter Meetings on a whim—a bit of a birthday gift to myself to see what it was all about. It was at these meetings that I was offered my current position with the Tacoma Rainiers.
For many first timers, the Winter Meetings are all about the PBEO job fair. As someone who had luck at the job fair last year, I’ve fielded quite a few questions about this year’s job fair in Orlando, FL and I have decided to compile my advice into a blog entry. I hope my experience can help others land their dream job in professional baseball.
How the job fair works
The job fair in Indianapolis was like nothing I had ever experienced. The event took up four rooms. One room was devoted to job postings. There were rows and rows of bulletin boards where jobs were posted (by category) every thirty minutes. Each job posting had a number on the top. When you saw a job you were interested in, you would write the number of that job posting as well as the job title on the top of a copy of your resume and deposit the resume in a receptacle in the hallway.
The second room was where interview schedules were posted. Again, these were posted every 30 minutes. The schedules were laid out in order of job number, so remember the numbers of the jobs for which you’ve applied! Sometimes you’ll be asked to pick a time to interview, other times one will be assigned to you. Often, these interviews are assigned to times not long after the schedule is posted (last year I saw I had been selected for an interview five minutes before my scheduled interview time) so be sure to check this room often!
The third room was the interview room. Last year there was entire ballroom with numbered tables. A dry erase board outside the ballroom indicated which number table a team was performing their interviews. When it’s your scheduled time, head over to the table and do your thing!
The fourth room was where I spent the bulk of my time: the work room. Here is where you and your fellow job seekers wait to go into rooms one, two or three.
- Be open-minded. Baseball is a competitive industry, which means there is a good chance you’ll have to move far away for a less than desirable salary to get your foot in the door. Don’t be afraid to apply for jobs across the country or to take an internship you feel might be “beneath” you. Baseball has a way of taking care of its own. Many internships (even if it isn’t listed on the job posting) provide housing and long home stands often mean complimentary dinners at the park. Plus, most minor league teams give interns fancy titles like “coordinator” or “assistant,” which looks nice on your resume when all is said and done.
- Be organized. Bring a notebook and write down the number, job title, team name, hiring contact and posted compensation of each position you apply for. You’ll appreciate this when you look at the interview schedules. You can use this same notebook to jot down notes after you interview.
- Be courteous. Do yourself a favor and get yourself some “thank you” notes. If all goes well, you’re going to be having a lot of interviews (I estimate I had between 12-15 last year). Eventually, they all start running together. As soon as you get out of your interview, write your “thank you” note to the individuals who interviewed you. Mail them before you even get on the plane to go home. A follow up email the evening after you interview probably wouldn’t hurt either. If you can, get the business card of every person with whom you interview.
- Be prepared. I printed about 300 resumes last year. It was overkill, but I did use about 150 of them. In my opinion, there is very little wrong with applying for a LOT of positions (although I would hesitate to apply for more than 2-3 jobs with any given team. You want to appear as though you are focused and know what you want). At the worst, interviews you get are excellent practice. So bring resumes. If you are looking to get into media relations, bring writing samples. Marketing? Bring design samples. If you can swing it, bring a laptop and thumb drive so you can print anything you may need at the business center.
- Network. Although I mentioned the work room last, don’t underestimate its value. This is where you are going to meet the next generation of baseball employees. Use your time wisely—network and make friends. Not only will this make the job fair experience easier (you and your new friends can divide and conquer the interview schedule room and make sure no one misses an interview during a lunch break), but these are the people with whom you can start building your professional network. Don’t be afraid to talk to people in the hallways or at the trade show—get business cards and hand out your own. Big caveat here, don’t be a fanboy/fangirl. You probably will see more than one Major League general manager or field staffer walking around. A polite hello is fine, but remember you are a professional before you are a fan. The Winter Meetings are not the place to go all teenage-girl-on-Justin-Bieber with your favorite team’s bench boss. You never know who is watching, so keep your game face on.
I hope this information is helpful to you! If you’ve been to the job fair before, anything you’d recommend or do differently than I suggested?
I’m happy to meet up with anyone or answer any questions you have about the Winter Meetings/PBEO job fair. Please feel free to post a comment or drop me an email at melissamarchionna at gmail dot com.