By Alex Auerbach, BSBA Business Management Candidate
Anybody involved in working in sports knows that it is an extremely thrilling, fast-paced work environment that can be highly stressful and also highly rewarding. It is also extremely hard to get into for someone who is not an athlete. I am one of a privileged few to have the opportunity to work in the NFL as an intern. This is a major step towards my goal of becoming a football coach or general manager.
Because of the lifestyle of the employees of the NFL, and the value of the organizations, the selection process is time consuming and in-depth. It began in early January, when I mailed a resume to all 32 NFL teams. A number of teams never responded to the letter or resume I sent, others responded by saying there were no positions. After two months, in early March, I began receiving phone calls from the Buffalo Bills, Cleveland Browns, New England Patriots, Indianapolis Colts, and the St. Louis Rams. The first time they called, they were looking for professional responses to simple questions – When would you be willing to start? Can you do it for college credit? Who would you like to meet when you get here? Do you consider yourself a hard worker?
Then they waited another month, and in early April, I was told by the New England Patriots, the Indianapolis Colts, and the Cleveland Browns that I had not been selected or they were no longer taking interns because of a coaching change. I was also told that I had phone interviews with the Bills and Rams. Around this same time, I was fortunate enough to meet a man who knew the owner of the Rams very well, and was able to get a recommendation for him, which put me a notch above other applicants, since the evaluators at the Rams had a connection to someone who could give them personal feedback about who I was. After the phone interview, I was told I would be contacted again and informed about whether or not I was chosen. Both teams ended up calling for follow-up interviews, only to be mailed a letter the day after from the Buffalo Bills telling me I was not the intern they were looking for. This left me with the Rams. In the beginning of May, I received a voicemail, telling me I was selected as the intern for the Rams, and explaining the process.
The Rams had over 800 applicants from all levels of football. After a month, they had narrowed it down to a final 20 to interview via phone, in early April. They then scaled the people’s responses and took into consideration their recommendations (this is where knowing someone at the organization helped considerably). They then conducted follow-up interviews with the final five people, knowing that three would be selected. Of the five, two had not graduated college and three had, and everyone knew someone within the organization. They explained that the purpose of the delay was to indeed make us more nervous and, had any of us called to follow up on our interview, we would have been told that we weren’t selected, because they did not want anyone to checking in or naggin. Ultimately, they selected three interns, one for the summer (me) and two graduates for the season.
I expect to do everything asked of me, but some described duties include learning how to manage the salary cap with management, writing newspaper articles to be published, producing flyers or marketing campaigns, working on scouting reports, and other office-related duties.
This internship will put me on another platform once it comes time to looking for jobs in football after graduation. However, the most important thing I learned was that the NFL works like other businesses – it is important to network and market yourself so that you can be the ideal candidate and have support to back any claims you or someone else may make about who you are.