Friday, August 16, 2013

Leaving Your Mark: Drexel Sport Management Residency Week

Earlier this week, I was asked to speak at Drexel’s Sport Management Residency Week and provide advice and guidance to graduate students.  While this impressive group of students did not need much from me in terms of tips and pointers, my hope is that there was at least one takeaway from the presentation.

While I emphasized the power of networking and building relationships, I offered the following advice from both me and two of my close friends in the industry from Turnkey Sports and Ascension Sports.  Their direct quotes were:

  • “Attach yourself to the part of the company where the revenue comes from.  “Kids are so set on being ‘sports marketers’, but there is a much shorter runway and much harder to get into.  The quickest way up is through sales.”
  • “Just get in the organization (sales is the easiest way) and work your tail off.  The department you want to get to eventually will come.  But you have to prove your worth.” 

In an effort to further drive home this point, I referred back to my time as a recruiter with Turnkey.  Most of my searches were for senior-level corporate/sponsorship sales, tickets sales, group sales, and premium sales for professional sports teams and college sports properties.  These positions varied in terms of responsibilities but they were high on the totem pole, typically involved managing and leading a team, and not surprisingly, were on the high-end of the pay scale.  In a nutshell, if you want to work in sports and make money, sell!  Generally speaking, corporate/sponsorship sales executives make the most money in terms of base salary and commission, followed by premium sellers (suites and club seats), and so on down the line to season, group, and individual ticket sales people.

(Check out some of the Residency Week photos that Drexel Sport Management posted on their Facebook.)

Understanding full well that sales and business development is not for everyone, keep in mind that that first job (or the first few jobs) out of college do not have to be your dream job.  This is your foot in the door for you to then navigate to the ideal department!  Plus, “selling sports” is pretty sweet when you compare it to the alternatives of selling paper like Dwight Schrute from The Office or selling car parts like Tommy Callahan from Tommy Boy.

In these economic times and in this job market, you sometimes have to play the numbers game- there are usually more sales jobs and less sales candidates than there are for other areas of the business (marketing, finance, HR, legal, etc.).  Find a team, product, or service that you believe in and the job of selling it will not feel like a job.


Mark Gress is the Associate Director of Employer Relations for Arcadia University with a Masters Degree from Drexel University.  Mark formerly worked as Co-Op Coordinator and Manager of Employer Relations for the Steinbright Career Development Center at Drexel University.  He also has experience with Turnkey Sports and Entertainment, Philadelphia Eagles, and Drexel Athletics.

Connect with Mark Gress on LinkedIn. 

1 comment:

  1. Great post, Mark! I agree that being able to sell will set you apart from so many other people applying for jobs. Sales experience is a skill that can excel beyond industry or company boundaries.