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Q&A: University of Central Florida: Got Gig? Career Boot Camp

Q&A: University of Central Florida: Got Gig? Career Boot Camp

By: Mark Gress Jr. & Megan Meisse, Prodigy Sports

Having recently returned from Orlando, Prodigy Sports’ Vice President, Recruiting, Mark Gress Jr. was invited to speak with the UCF DeVos Sport Business Management MBA cohorts and participate in their Got Gig? Career Boot Camp. The day included resumes reviews, three mock interviews, LinkedIn preparation, values discussion, networking and job searching overviews. Utilizing the skills and tips taught from Mark, below are questions and answers about his time at UCF and his insight on incredibly crucial skills and education for career development.

What is the biggest concern of students entering the job space, specially to break into the sports industry?

Alex Vergara and Mike Redlick invited me to speak and participate in their Got Gig? Career Boot Camp. Given these were MBA students, perhaps their concern was breaking in at the appropriate level.  Ego aside, most of them simply want to know where they slot in and how they can get there.  For those currently in or who have recently completed their MBA, it comes down to how that degree is sold, marketed, and positioned as part of a candidate’s “experience” and skill set.

If there were one or two major errors as an interviewee to stay away from within an interview process, what would they be?

Not answering the specific question that was asked OR lacking details, telling a story, giving examples – turn the abstract into something concrete.

Not having questions prepared to ask the interviewer and not just any questions; questions that show the depth of your research and the sincerity behind your curiosity.

For those who are frustrated in the job search, either not finding the right roles or getting interviews scheduled, what would be the biggest piece of advice to handle the job process?

We say it a lot but it is true – the job search is a full-time job.  It is also a stressful one and one that involves and incorporates the “human element” regardless of whether you are working with a recruiter or not.  Be patient, be creative, adapt and adjust, change up your methods, build long-term relationships, and go outside of your comfort zone.

What is the best way to ‘tell your story’ on an interview? How much is too much or how little is too little detail to be left out?

It depends.  If I am asking to give me your elevator pitch and your 30 second commercial – keep it short and sweet; follow the direction of the interviewer.  If I am asking to walk me through your background, help me understand your career transitions, and let me hear your verbal version of your resume, it is OK to be a little verbose; let your energy and passion come through.  If you can’t do that when you are telling your own story, we’re in trouble.

With new sectors breaking out in the sports industry in the last 12-24 months, like the growth of esports and more digital roles being created, where do you see these roles going and what other disciplines are promising to break out in the coming months?

Aside from esports, digital, gambling, and all of the ones people talk about at conferences and onsocial media, it is also exciting to follow and potentially land a role in new, upstart leagues.  Beyond The Alliance of American Football, you have the XFL and other emerging football leagues.  You have a potential new lacrosse league coming down the road.  Look for teams and sports that are expanding, relocating, and/or otherwise evolving and position yourself in a way to be part of that growth.

To address those active job seekers, how can they diversify their skill sets to be more versatile in the industry? How do they know the right job opportunities to go after if still new to the industry?

Sometimes it is hard.  If you are an active job seeker who is employed, try to chip in with other departments.  If you have relationships in the sports industry, ask around, learn, visit other organizations, ask questions, seek out best practices.  If the advanced degree, a certificate, a formal training are options, consider and pursue them.  If you are an active job seeker who is unemployed, volunteer, take on research projects, do pro bono work, and otherwise stay current and fresh.

As for the “right” job opportunities, let’s not forget the most basic step.  Read and review job descriptions.  Digest them, understand what they are asking for and take a true, hard look in the mirror and see if you meet even the bare minimum requirements.  Then, what I would do is to research and look around, perhaps via LinkedIn, for who is doing that same or a similar role at the moment and see what their background and skills are and match that against yourself; use that as a barometer.

What is the most powerful resource someone can use in their career to network?

Hard question to answer.  What I told the MBA students at UCF was to leverage, utilize, and simply bang down the doors of your UCF alumni network.  What MBA programs like UCF do well is they integrate their alumni, professors, advisory board, and other key industry leaders into the curriculum.  Now it is on the MBA student or alumni who is seeking help in their career to ASK, follow-up, be persistent, and build a relationship that is mutually beneficial.

As Vice President, Recruiting, Mark Gress Jr. brings more than 10 years of experience in the sports industry. He initially joined Prodigy Sports in early 2015 as Director, Recruiting before being promoted in 2016. Gress’ experience in the industry has brought him success in filling positions for Kroenke Sports & Entertainment, World Rowing Championships, USA Curling, USA Table Tennis, USA Taekwondo, and many more.

Contact: mark@prodigysports.net

As Senior Recruiting Associate, Megan Meisse works across Prodigy Sports’ executive search division, handling various clients across the sports and entertainment industries. Aside from her executive search role at Prodigy, Meisse also handles digital initiatives and content creation for Prodigy Sports.

Contact: megan@prodigysports.net

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Megan Meisse

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