Four Things I’ve Learned as an Intern at a Professional Sports Team

Two months ago, when I started my internship with the Philadelphia Flyers, I didn’t know what was in store for me.

Sure, I thought I’d learn a lot, and I figured if it were really my dream job, I’d probably have a lot of fun, too. But the experience has carried with it many highs and lows that I never expected to have. They say there’s really no way to learn what a job is like unless you’re actually doing it, and they’re right.

Edited with Polarr Photo Editor

This is what I saw when Brayden Schenn had his first career hat trick.

When you think of working in sports, your mind probably goes to the glamour of the business: the cheering crowds, the euphoria of winning, how close you are to the game and whatever drew you to it in the first place. And don’t get me wrong, those are absolutely the kind of perks that made me want to work in sports in the first place. What you don’t see are the more trying moments, like the long hours, the fast pace, and the heartbreak of losing.

Here’s what I’ve learned working in sports for these few months that I wish I’d known before.

  1. Everyone who works for the team is a fan. I don’t mean this in the conventional sense; my bosses aren’t wearing Flyers jerseys underneath their suits. But everyone I work with wants this team to succeed. Anyone who has ever played a sport knows how hard it is to lose, or how frustrating it is to watch your favorite team lose. That feeling doesn’t go away when you work for the team; you just learn to hide your emotions. That’s why we love when the team wins: their high spirits carry over to us, and everyone on and off the ice is in a jovial mood. So trust me: we want the team to make the playoffs as badly, if not more, than you do.
  2. You will be exhausted. I absolutely love what I do, but I am almost constantly tired. Yesterday, I walked in the door at 7:40 in the morning and left at 11:40 at night (and my bosses stayed even later!). What keeps me going on long gamedays is knowing that I have the chance to live my dream, even if it means working way more hours per day than I’m sleeping. (I also drink a lot of coffee. I owe all that I am to our office coffee pot.) When I get home at night, though, I get to tell my mom or my boyfriend what incredible things happened at work that day, and that beats sleep every time.
  3. Things will change constantly. There’s one guarantee in sports: no two days will ever be the same. Yes, we do a lot of the same tasks every day — distributing game notes and stats, transcribing interviews, making credentials for reporters — but more often than not, someone will lose a credential or we’ll have a press conference to cover or we’ll have to fill in for other interns and record practice. I never know what the day is going to hold, and I love that. As a creature of habit, it can be maddening to have to stray from my routine, but I’m getting used to having a blank space in my agenda with question marks all over it.
  4. You will have so many moments and memories you’ll want to share. Last night, while I was downstairs waiting to print off a game summary, Brayden Schenn scored his first career hat trick. I was standing in the Zamboni tunnel, and all I could do was watch in awe as hats rained down onto the ice. I had never seen a hat trick in person before and I had the goofiest grin on my face for the rest of the night. This moment is one of so many that still make me light up when I tell people about them. Some people’s jobs don’t even give them one of these memories, and that’s how I know I’m lucky.

Every time I’m feeling tired, every time I miss seeing the sunlight or having a free Saturday afternoon, it’s moments like the one above that remind me why I’m here and why I want so badly to be here in the future. If you love it, working in sports feels like the farthest thing from work. And after all, that’s a career goal I’ll never stop chasing.