Just Be Smart: Finding the Right Combo of Book Smarts and Street Smarts
Sun, 05/20/2012 - 10:00 — Tracie Hitz
In the last month, I've been invited to speak at sports career events at York College and Louisville that brought in professionals from different teams, universities and outside entities. Whenever I participate in events like this I'm reminded of just how subjective the job selection process is. One of the questions that came up in both places, and is also one I get asked almost daily is, Do I need to get my Master's degree? This seems like a question that would have a pretty straight-forward answer, but there were quite a few points of view shared when we went around the horn.
- College athletic departments value a master's degree more than the pros.
- College athletic departments usually require a master's degree when you get to the Assistant AD level.
- Most pros suggest getting at least three years of real world experience before attending grad school so you have more to contribute, as well as so you get more out of the program.
- The exception to the bullet point above is if an organization is going to pay for your master's, take that deal. All pros agreed that getting a free ride and experience at the same time is something you shouldn't pass up.
- It's tough for people to go back to school after being out for more than five years, so keep that in mind when setting your goals.
- The postgrad test scores are good for a few years so take the GRE or GMAT so it's good to take these tests right out college because you're still in the test-taking state of mind.
- If you have an undergrad degree in sports administration or have several years of sports-related experience, look into get an MBA rather than a master's in sports administration. Sports is a business and that's never been more of a focus than it is right now so getting an business degree gives you knowledge and perspective that is valuable to universities and pro teams.
- Because young professionals tend to move around the first few years in the field, research schools to make sure you attend one where you can easily transfer credits so you can stay mobile if a great job opportunity comes along while you're still in school.
Everyone has an opinion. Everyone has taken a different path. Pay attention to the trends and make decisions based on what you think is best for you. Constantly reassess your goals based on new information and experiences. Very few of us have taken the exact path we laid out for ourselves when we were first starting out. We kept our minds open for opportunities even if we didn't know at the time where they would lead us. Always have a plan, but write it in pencil to make sure you can adjust it along the way.