Since my journey through the Athletic & Outdoor (A&O) Certificate Program began, I have met over a dozen industry professionals. For an aspiring A&O professional, such as myself, the chance of clamoring “GIVE ME A JOB PLEASE” could not be more tempting. However, something tells me that would be wrong. I will detail how I have approached these industry professionals, and hopefully you find some of my experiences useful as you continue your SBA journey. On a side note (and hopefully needless to say), be respectful.
1. Be authentic.
As a general rule, you should never use people. People do not like to feel used. People are not assets or capital (barring all accounting logic – sorry accountants). Instead, thank them for their time, shake their hand firmly, smile genuinely, and just talk to them. I know that I want to work in the A&O industry one day, so I always introduce myself as a PSU advertising and marketing student pursuing an A&O certificate. Then I shift the conversation to them, and not just the companies they work for. What was their first job? How did they get into the A&O industry? What have they found most inspiring about their careers? What paved the way for their career? These questions are no rite, they can actually provide valuable information about how to shape your own career. Once again, refrain from asking them for a job, and instead ask if you can follow up your conversation via email or over a cup of coffee if the conversation went well.
2. Value their opinions.
Make sure that the people you network with feel valued. Valued not only for their position in a company, but also for their insight and knowledge. Feel free to ask them if you are on the right track. Ask if they would recommend you do something different. Take their advice with a grain of salt, but be grateful that you received a personalized recommendation from someone who has already made it (you should probably listen to them).
3. Grow your network.
It may be the case that the person you speak to works for a company that does not interest you. Perhaps they work with sneakers when you want to go into high fashion. One of the guest speakers in my retailing class said that for all intents and purposes, you do want a job in the company of any person you speak to (most of us are going to be begging for just about any job worth applying to anyway). You do not know who that person knows – the world is a small place after all and one contact could mean the difference in landing your dream job. Upon completion of your second meeting or conversation, ask politely if they can contact you with one or two people to continue your growth. You might want to do so casually by asking them “who should I contact next to discuss the industry?”
4. Apply yourself.
PSU knows how important it is to grow your network in your industry by applying yourself alongside others with similar goals. PENSOLE, the footwear design academy, will partner with adidas this summer for a four-week immersion program. Led by founder, D’wayne Edwards, a former design director at Nike whose designs have sold more than $1 billion worldwide. PENSOLE is dedicated to develop the talent of women and minority shoe designers and business professionals. The program is selective and I will be working arduously to be selected. Additionally, MKTG 436/437 courses will be offered in condensed one-week formats. This is a great opportunity to take the two A&O classes towards the certificate without having to wait until winter and spring term when they are offered again.
Apply for both the PENSOLE immersion and for MKTG 436/437 now!
~Edwin Garcia ’17, Fearless Senior
Edwin is a senior business student majoring in Advertising and Marketing.
He is also a member of A&O Connect, a student group that hosts industry professionals.