For some, college isn’t enough when it comes to getting experience for a potential job after you graduate. Some students, like myself, choose to reach out to media outlets, teams, or other organizations to get extra experience. For some, an internship is required to complete their degree, but substitutions can be made in the event it can’t be completed. For a lot of us, this was the case when COVID-19 struck.
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Even if students complete an internship, there are those of us that like to go above and beyond. The Wenatchee Wild of the Junior-A British Columbia Hockey League (BCHL) are about an hour and a half from my campus of Central Washington University (CWU) in Ellensburg, Washington. The opportunity to cover the Wild provided the perfect outlet to get away from campus for a bit and gain experience.
Student journalists stay pretty busy during the week and even on weekends between classes, homework, and any other extracurriculars. Throw in drive time to and from the arena and editing your article when you get back to your room — it can make for some long days. For a 7 P.M. game, I leave campus around 4 o’clock, but depending on weather, it might need to be earlier if the alternate route is needed. I like to grab dinner in town before I get to the rink and I usually like to make sure I’m there about an hour prior to puck drop.
Once Inside the Arena
The hour prior to puck drop gives me time to take in the atmosphere, go over each team’s last game, look at which players I might keep an eye on during the night, where each team sits in the standings, and anything else to make sure I’m ready to get a good article out after the game. Depending on the game, I sometimes have to wait a little while to get post-game quotes. By the time I get back to campus, open up my computer, throw in any quotes I got and take care of any edits I deem necessary, it’s going on midnight. So by the time I get ready for bed, it’s usually close to 1 A.M.
But those long days are well worth it — you get to go for a drive, see sights along the way, network with people, and sharpen your skills. As a reporter, you also have more access to the players, coaches, and the general manager. So many times I’ve heard that networking is key and that you almost always have to start small. By getting experience in covering junior hockey, you’re accomplishing both of those things. You’re covering one of the most well-known junior hockey leagues in North America while still starting out at a level you can get well established, but also gain that beneficial experience.
How to Grow Your Name in College
As a student looking to gain experience in the sports industry, whether it’s broadcasting, journalism, or something else — networking is key. I’ve always heard that when it comes to working in the sports industry, it’s who you know. Always be looking for new teams or openings that might pop up. What’s great about writing for websites is that most of the time you don’t even need to be at every game.
Social media is key in growing your name. Twitter is a great platform to connect with others in the same or similar fields, or study those who work in the sports industry. LinkedIn is another great platform to connect with people you’ve worked with and others throughout the industry. It’s also a great place to post your content, such as articles you write for websites because of the traction it can get.
Facebook groups are another great platform to share content, especially team fan groups because of the additional coverage you provide. You’ll almost certainly receive positive reactions from fans and those involved with the team as well. Not only are team Facebook groups great to post in, but other groups for the sport you’re covering as well that might focus on teams in that region. An additional bonus you get covering a team and networking with their staff is your content being shared on the team’s social media channels.
By covering a local hockey team, I’ve been able to help others learn about the team. In addition to growing the team’s brand, you grow the sport of hockey, which is especially important to me because of Seattle getting an NHL team soon. Hockey can be hard to grow with people not understanding it or not into learning about it, but every little bit of coverage helps that.
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The ability to network while in college with so many resources available to you in person and online is something to take advantage of to stay a step ahead of the competition. In addition to social media, there are many websites where sports jobs are posted that you should visit such as Teamwork Online. It’s all about finding the right connections to help build your network and resume.