If you’re like me, you are getting towards the end of your college career and looking for places to either start a career or attend grad school. Being a business major and an avid golfer, I’ve always known I wanted a career in the sports industry, but where to begin? Looking at the golf industry specifically, where does the job experience lie if you’re in college?
There is always your local golf course, where you could work as a caddie or with the grounds crew, and while it is a good way to become acquainted with the industry, most employers do not see four years of caddying as good job experience (even if the money is really good during the summers). So the question is, if I am trying to get into the corporate golf industry, or even the greater sports industry, what do I look for?
The answer is a golf internship. Summer internships during college are the keys to good jobs after you graduate, and the golf industry is no different from any other. There are numerous golf associations and companies that take interns for the summer, and landing good internships can be your ticket into the industry.
I took an internship with the National Collegiate Club Golf Association last summer after I got back from studying abroad in Europe. Though the internship was not paid, I was able to work from home, get some management experience, and write articles about the game I loved. I also experienced working in teams in a company setting where multiple groups come together to work towards a common goal.
What’s more important, however, is the contacts I gained. It is an unfortunate truth in the business world that who you know can get you places, and internships are a great way to get contacts and create a network for your career. For example, I began this summer by spending a month on a study abroad program in the Dominican Republic. The timing of the trip prevented me from taking most internships I was interested in, which all started while I was still abroad. While I was in the Caribbean, however, I received an email from Kris Hart, the CEO of Nextgengolf, who I had worked with during my internship the previous summer. This email concerned an internship with the Club Managers Association of America, a company that Nextgen was had a good relationship with.
Since I did not have anything concrete in the works at the time, I figured I would send in my resume just in case. I immediately received a response offering me the position based on my previous work with the NCCGA, and I accepted! I have now spent this entire summer interning for CMAA where I've developed an entirely new network and experience to use as I look for places to start a career after college.
You can have the best grades in your class, but if you do not have internship experience, you will be extremely limited in searching for entry-level positions after school. There are plenty of internships available out there – and even if they are not paid, gaining work experience and putting it on your resume is invaluable to job searches. The golf industry alone holds numerous opportunities. Think of all of the golf associations that exist, whether it be state golf associations, junior organizations, or non profit organizations like the First Tee. All of these companies hire interns. Whether the positions are paid or not varies from company to company, but most of them recognize that you are a college student, and therefore do not hold you to the same schedule as a normal employee, particularly if you are not paid.
Being an intern, and getting the real work experience and letters of recommendation that employers look for, is invaluable to interviewing and applying for jobs after graduation, both in and out of the sports industry.
**Bob Bonney is a senior at the College of William & Mary where he is a leading member of the school’s club golf team and is also a scratch golfer.