For those of you who are not familiar with Darren Rovell, he is ESPN’s sports business analyst. You can often find him tweeting about brands, ticket prices, concessions available, among many other things. People really do give him a lot of grief for the things he posts sometimes, for example:
@darrenrovell I had a salad from Panera for lunch today, in just as exciting news….
— Typical Sports Fan (@Bstsportsfanevr) January 25, 2017
Most of the time, the grief is unjustified, as Rovell is often reporting weird facts, but facts nonetheless. However today Darren Rovell sparked a twitter controversy with this tweet:
Giving something away for free, working for free at some point as you try to make it in the industry, is some of the strongest advice I got.
— Darren Rovell (@darrenrovell) January 27, 2017
It’s pretty rare when every troll on twitter is in agreeance with anything any public figure says, but this one got a lot of people talking.
@darrenrovell curious who gave you this advice. Once you work for free, you’re telling others what your value is. Don’t do it, kids!
— Kerith Burke (@KerithBurke) January 27, 2017
— Optimus Shine (@madads14) January 27, 2017
Having worked my fair share of unpaid internships, I’d say that Darren is right. I don’t have a sports background (formally), nor did I major in anything remotely related to sports. Internships let me demonstrate my passion, get real time experience, and gave me a lot more than money ever could. Yes, that sounds incredibly cheesy, but it is true. Not sure what is so appalling about his tweet, internships help build your network, they let you figure out what you do and don’t like about a job you thought you wanted, and they allow you to develop other skills that would be applicable anywhere.
Yes, know your worth. Know that you should probably not be on your 5th unpaid internship doing the same thing. By that time it is either time to pick a new profession, or have a very frank conversation with your manager about what you need to do for the money. But also be honest with yourself. Nothing in life is free, but that doesn’t mean monetarily, it could also mean work. You want that cool sports media job that you and thousands of other people want? Okay, then to get it you have to outhustle and outwork everyone else there. You want the team you’ve grown up rooting for to notice you for a job? What will make you different? Offer to volunteer, offer to help them, offer to do things to get you in the door. What you do there is up to you, but let’s be honest, the kid who is offering to type up all their post game notes will be a lot further towards a career than the kid who is demanding $40,000 for the same job.
Rovell’s advice is not unlike that of Braves general manager John Coppolella, who told fans on Twitter last month, “Look for internships. Don’t worry about the money. Work hard & don’t have expectations beyond being part of a team. Assume nothing.”
If I’ve learned nothing after college, it’s that networking and experience go a lot further than my degree ever will. You want the experience to get a job in sports? Okay, work an unpaid internship or create a flexible position to gain experience. You want to get paid for that job you’ve interned for? Okay then outwork every other intern in your intern class and show them you’re worth every penny they will pay you after they hire you. And if they don’t hire you, telling the next person you talk to that you’ve already worked in sports goes a very long way.