Regroup and Refresh

July has come at the blink of an eye, and I am officially thru my first year at Fordham University.  For the first time in my career, I’ll be entering year 2 at the same school, and am really looking forward to implementing some positive changes within our department, and finding ways to improve both personally and professionally.  It has been quite a while since I have written a blog post, and during that time a lot has happened.  I’ve experienced many ups and downs along the way, but overall am very happy with where I’m at in my career and look forward to learning more as year 2 kicks in.

One thing that I am going to stress in this post is the importance of time off.  Especially in the field that I am in, days off are hard to come by.  Typically, the summer months are a little quieter, and serve as the time where you can take a vacation, or just time away from the office.  For myself, I was fortunate this year to travel, and spent 10 days in Europe with 2 of my friends.  Other than the fact that the vacation itself was amazing, one thing I realized when away was how important it is to get away.

Even when things are going well, when you become to divulged in your work, it is hard to step away and really assess where you are at.  Especially working in college athletics, where things are cyclical, busy, and similar year in and year out, it can be very easy to get stuck in your work and not take a second to get away from what you are doing.  The most underrated part of my vacation this summer was the simple fact of getting away from the office.

Regroup and Refresh- This year, I was able to step back and take a clear look at what I felt went well, didn’t go well, and where I want to improve the most heading into year two.  Because I was able to clear my head and get out of the rhythm of working day in and out, especially with the busy Spring that Fordham has, it has allowed for me to paint a clearer picture of my path.  Another benefit that I have felt is the feeling of being refreshed.  I am recharged, re-motivated, and look forward to getting back into that zone where I can work to the best of my ability and continue to improve on my strengths and weaknesses.  I truly believe that if I didn’t take those days off from the office, that I would not have been able to take some time to step outside the bubble and give myself an honest assessment.

To keep it simple- its okay to take some time off!

 

 

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Be Available

Sometimes as an undergraduate student, graduate student, intern, or young professional,  the best piece of advice you can get is the simplest.  As I have moved along in my career, when it comes to working in college athletics, and more specifically event and facility operations, one of the greatest reminders for people looking to excel in this role is simple; be available.  There are so many times over the course of a calendar year that people in my role get calls and e-mails during off hours, on weekends, etc.  This is the nature of the position, in that you are dealing with coaches and administrators who’s schedules are also hectic and built around the standard work week.  One of the easiest ways to prove yourself as you are jump starting your career is to be a a reliable source of help, especially when working with coaches.

Whether it’s something as small as a question regarding practice time, or as big as a facility issue that you cannot directly handle because you are not on site, the importance of being available to coaches and administrators is paramount.  Allow them to access your cell, and when they call, answer.  Obviously, you need to set a standard for yourself and maintain a healthy work-life balance, but the more coaches and administrators know they can count on you, the better off you’ll be.

With that being said, there are plenty of times where instances occur that you cannot resolve, or you may not know the answer to.  Your willingness to work through those situations, and your availability in many cases is more important.  It shows you are invested in your work, you’re willing to help above and beyond your time spent on site, and it builds a unique sense of trust with colleagues that can really go a long way.  One of the most important things I realized early on was how much I truly needed to learn.  So many aspects of facilities and event management are learned on the fly, and can’t truly be taught in an educational setting.  Take it in stride, and do your best to accept the challenges that come with it.

Be Available:  The best way to learn- take risks, asks questions, and to simplify, be there!  Help out as much as possible, take on some of those more challenging tasks on your own, and learn through your own personal experiences.  So many people in this industry start on that same level playing field, and the one’s who truly invest themselves in the school, the staff, and the betterment of the student-athletes are the ones that excel.  Personally, I enjoy it.  Much of this role and working in operations involves accommodating others, and when you realize how much time coaches invest in their craft, it makes the job a lot easier and more fun to take on.  Surround yourself with people who want to help, who want to be there, and who want to make the department you work for a better place.

New Year, New Goals

This time of year, you hear the word “resolution” thrown out so casually.  Everyone likes to use New Year’s Day, albeit just another day, as a benchmark for their past and continued success.  As I took some time to reflect over the holidays, I realized that setting goals, improving as an individual, and looking to grow in your career is an ongoing process.  While there is nothing wrong with utilizing the New Year as a time in your life to restart, refresh, and re-motivate yourself in any aspect of your life, it should not be the only time you actually do that throughout the year.

So as I sat down and thought about the areas I wanted to improve, I realized that it wasn’t necessarily a goal that I wanted to improve on, rather my day to day processes, habits, and overall approach to my career tied in with my mental and physical health.  Over this past year in 2017, I was finally able to commit myself to sustaining a healthy lifestyle while maintaining the long hours that come with working in college athletics.  Previously, I had used this as an excuse, and with the help of friends and family I have committed myself to focusing on my physical and mental health from here on out.  Naturally, I feel like this has helped me grow professionally, as my mind is clear, my focus is stronger than ever, and that is nothing but positive when it comes to having an impact on how I perform in “the office”.

What I urge to people that are looking to change, or improve, is not to focus on the end goal.  I recently read an article on Nick Saban, where he was interviewed and talking about the turning point in his career.  He spoke about a game where he was the head coach at Michigan State, and they had just come off a huge upset win against Ohio State.  He spoke about how the focus that week in practice was broken down so meticulously, focusing on one play, one drive, and one task at a time, all in attempt to take the anxiety out of what the actual goal was – to win the game.  They won.   And, he talks about that day moving forward, and how his coaching style has continuously adapted to drive home to his players that while winning the game is the goal, winning each day is the focus.

That can literally relate to anything in one’s life, and I found that fitting having been right around the New Year when I stumbled on the article.  For me, I can apply it to the goals I set for myself in my career.  Yes, I want to be an AD, but when you look at the length of the process, the likelihood of achievement, it can become overwhelming.  Therefore, moving forward, for today, this week, this month, and this year, I am going to put more of my focus on each and every day.  It sounds cliche, but I want to find a way to improve on something in some capacity every day.  Tackle the small tasks, focus on the journey, and embrace the result.

New Year, New Goals- With that approach in mind, I want to still put some overarching elements down in writing that I want to continue to improve on.  While I plan on reflecting more often throughout the year, I’ll use January 1, 2019 as a day where I look back at the overall outcome that came from my efforts that year.

1. Continue to improve my lifestyle, by intertwining my mental and physical health, career growth, and social life.

2. Continue to pay it forward, and do my best to serve as a mentor for those aspiring to fill the same shoes

3. Utilize the summer to reflect on my first year at Fordham, and have a larger impact on my department and how we operate

Happy New Year!

Tell Everyone

It has been quite some time since my last post, but as I stated early on in starting this blog, I would write and post as thoughts, experiences, and ideas came to me.  I don’t want to force it and I wanted to keep this as authentic as possible.  On my way home from work yesterday, I had a great conversation with a good friend of mine Ryan DePasquale who is currently chomping at the bit with every intention of getting his way into the academic advising field.  Ryan and I met while interning at BC, and while we both have chosen different paths since then, the perspective we are able to give each other and the conversations we have seem to keep us both motivated and balanced in our daily approach towards long term career happiness.

One thing that came up yesterday in our conversation was how to continuously try and network and get your foot in the door.  No matter how far along you are in your career, or what your path may take, networking and relationship building will be at the forefront of your success.  It has to be real, and it has to be genuine, but in the end it is a skill and it takes effort to reach out and meet people that can help you grow professionally (tidbit- it is EQUALLY as important to give back by helping others as you begin to establish yourself!).  For those of you that know me one thing is pretty clear, I’m an open book when it comes to explaining what I want out of my life, both in my career and personally, and that leads me to my next piece of advice:

Tell Everyone: At the risk of becoming annoying, one thing I have always done was make it as clear cut as possible with everyone I have met- I want to work my way up the ranks of college athletics and become an Athletic Director.  Since I have started working in the industry as a GA at Bloomsburg University, I knew exactly what I was meant to do.  I have always found that the more people that know what you want, the better chance you’ll have of getting the next open opportunity.  Whether it be in conversations with friends and family, or through mentoring with established professionals, or even on your personal social media pages while building your brand, once you know what you want to do, tell everyone!!!  The next time that person hears of a job opening in the field that you’re interested in, your name may be the first to register in his/her mind, and could be the difference in you getting that job.  I could be wrong, but I feel like this really pertains to any career path you are choosing to pursue.  Every industry has a network, has competition, and has people hungry for success with way more demand than supply when it comes to the right job for you.  It may seem obvious, but I really feel like the more people that know, the more chance you have of getting that next job.  Don’t be shy, exhibit your ambition clearly, and remember to stay patient as those opportunities may come and go.

The “Why”

Over the last couple of years, I have been assigned a wide variety of tasks when it comes to the different positions I’ve worked in college athletics.  Some simple, some complex, but either way, they all mattered.  At times early on, it can get frustrating.  The tasks are not always fun and certain things need to get done, which may seem tedious or unnecessary.  Working in college athletics, as I have stated time and time again is a lifestyle.  It is a mindset to buy into, a career to invest in, and a journey that anyone who wants to take part in needs to figure out “the why”.

Early on, as I took on some of these lesser roles I couldn’t comprehend “why” I was doing it.  Why does it matter? Will it really make a difference? Is this just busy work?  The answer is simple- it all matters.  In the ever changing and increasingly competitive world that has become college athletics, every single small detail matters.  Small staffs at big schools taking on several different roles, putting on a display to better the student-athlete experience, are all constants in this industry.  For those of you interning, volunteering, or just getting started, just know- no matter how much experience you gain, or how great your title may become, you are always expected to keep that mindset.  If you are struggling early on to buy in, just understand that the expectations will only increase as you move along.

The “Why”- The quicker you figure out why all of these small level tasks and tedious responsibilities matter, the better off you’ll be.  If you are having trouble buying into the mindset, then it may not be the career choice for you.  This is something I have bought into, especially in my current role at Fordham University.  We pride ourselves here on doing everything we can to maximize our resources in order to make the experience for the student-athletes as memorable as possible.  If that means going outside of your comfort zone to do something in order to get the job done, then so be it.  Figure out the why, and then stop asking it.   Attention to detail, work ethic, and the ability to buy into that mindset are all imperative in order to thrive in this industry.

That Time of Year

It’s been two months since my last post as I began my transition to Fordham University, however today it seemed fitting to write what everyone in this industry should be feeling this time of year.

Excitement.

Fall teams are reporting for camp, coaches’ requests are picking up, and the campus energy is felt with enthusiasm around every program higher than the year before.  The school year is around the corner and college athletics are about to be back in full force.

In the world of college athletic operations, this is an exciting time, but also a time where you realize that this has to be something you love.  The “down” time of summer comes to an abrupt stop, and the 6 and 7 day work weeks, covering of ALL home events, and handling the day to day responsibilities begin.  It is a full season grind that is something anyone who has worked in this area can appreciate.  How you prepare in the summer is a huge indication of how the beginning of the fall will look.  Communication, execution, and reflection in and out of each event early on, mentally preparing for the long days, and building strong relationships with coaches and other administrators in all departments are essential for a successful year in running events.

This is why I love it.  The energy doesn’t create stress, it creates a desire to be perfect and the ability to invest in something bigger than yourself.  As an administrator in my position, everything I do is with the idea of having the best interest of the student-athlete in mind.  As August rolls around and the students start to arrive, if you aren’t looking forward to that busy time of year, I truly believe you’re in the wrong industry.  So to all my college athletic peers and colleagues- please remember; your energy and passion for what you do has a bigger impact on the student-athletes success on the field than you think.  The culture in your department spreads far and wide and people around you can sense it.  If you don’t want your teams to win because it means one more day off with no postseason, you should be rethinking your commitment to this kind of career path.

I hope you all got your rest, because the fall is coming and college sports are BACK!!

New Beginning

I feel like it wasn’t too long ago that I wrote about stepping into my first full time job at American University, but then again, it wasn’t.  Now that I am entering week 3 here at Fordham, I wanted to take a second to write a little bit about my experience so far, and how the progression in the industry just simply makes sense.

Everything that I had heard about this place going into it has held true.  Great people, strong emphasis on both athletics and academics, and a place that over the years has learned how to maximize its resources to provide a positive experience for students, staff, fans, and more.  Even though it’s been a short two weeks, I know that there is a lot for me to learn, and this will be a great opportunity for me to grow in my career.

One of the nicest parts of stepping into this role was seeing how the progression I had taken in my previous jobs/internships/volunteer experiences have helped me get started on the right foot.  Many times for those who are just starting up in the college athletic industry, you may feel frustrated or anxious to move up.  Don’t be.  There is a reason why there are so many small steps that need to be taken in order to increase your role and responsibility in different departments.  I can honestly say as an intern first getting started, I was naive to the fact that there was so much that I was not ready to handle (and at the time thought I was).  Stepping into this role at Fordham, while my responsibilities and work load have increased, it is clear to see why and how the internships and smaller roles that I had to take on earlier in my career have helped prepare me for this.

I have spoken about this before, but it is worth mentioning again: Separate the short from the long term any time you are stepping into a new gig.  What do you need to know now, and what do you need to have on your radar for later.  It is the easiest way to prevent yourself from becoming too overwhelmed and learning your role in the most efficient way possible.  Along with that, you need to be able to find the perfect balance of patience, and ambition.  What do I mean by that?

Patience:  Trust the process.  Embrace the smaller roles, tackle the tasks early on that are given to you by your supervisors, and have the “yes man” mentality in order to learn as much as possible.  Do not get frustrated if you feel like you have more to offer.  Your time will come, and there is a reason why you are not taking on those responsibilities yet.

Ambition:  Stay motivated.  Just because you are not getting to tackle some of those larger tasks yet, continue to learn, ask questions, and get involved any way you can.  You will appreciate it more as you move up the ladder, and thank yourself for embracing the obstacles and small opportunities that are in front of you.

College athletics, just like any other industry, is a process.  There is a reason why I walk in to work every day and see people in larger roles who have been involved for 15, 20 years.  There is A LOT that goes into it.  It is ever changing, and the experiences that you build on throughout your career all lend a hand in how successful you can be.  Stay the course, work hard, and continue to learn.