An Inside Look at the Baseball Winter Meetings #SportsJobs Fair

An Inside Look at the Baseball Winter Meetings Job Fair

What is it?

Each year, representatives from just about every club in Minor League Baseball and Major League Baseball meet to learn from each other, discuss the business of baseball, and, of course, make moves with players for the upcoming season. In addition, approximately 500 jobs in pro baseball are filled at the Baseball Winter Meetings as hundreds of hopeful job seekers, mostly fresh out of college, attend the Professional Baseball Employment Organization (PBEO) Job Fair, which has worked with the Winter Meetings since 1994. This year’s events took place in San Diego, CA.

What’s the job picture there look like?

Of the 500 or so jobs filled at each year’s Winter Meetings, around 80% of jobs are entry-level or internships and around 80% are with MiLB clubs. For a $250 registration fee, PBEO attendees get to attend a Business of Baseball Workshop (a day full of panels and speakers for job seekers), the ability to view and apply for hundreds of job listings and, in many cases, interview on-site during the three day duration of the Winter Meetings.

Jobs are posted the first night of the PBEO Job Fair and any new jobs listed from the clubs are posted every 30 minutes. Similarly, a room with interview schedules is updated every 30 minutes, where applicants can check if they’ve been selected to interview for a job for which they’ve submitted a resume and sign up for a time to do so.
Who attends the Job Fair?

While the majority are recent college graduates, there are also a good amount of older job seekers looking to make a career change or explore a career in baseball, even if starting at the ground level. Further, there are several job seekers that attend multiple years, some having completed an internship, but still seeking full-time employment in baseball.

Along with the $250 registration fee, many job seekers travel from around the country to the site of the Winter Meetings for the chance to apply for (sometimes dozens with the most eager of job seekers) of jobs or internships in baseball, many of which pay just a $500-$1500 per month stipend (some with housing); in fact, one internship with an MLB club paid just $9.50/hour. Baseball (and working in sports, in general) is NOT your ticket to overnight wealth! Lastly, experience with a previous job or internship clearly gave job seekers a leg up on their peers.

Notable observations from the 2014 PBEO Job Fair:

– Among the young, aspiring job seekers at this year’s Winter Meetings Job Fair, a few things stood out. First, they are increasingly working on bringing in some specific skills to help separate themselves from the pack – commonly by coming in with knowledge of another language or culture (Japanese was big) and/or a fluency in numbers and math; “Applied Mathematics” was an example of a degree held by many attendees, some with experience working in the field with data and/or player stats, whether in a job or personal blog or both.

– Furthermore, a lot of job seekers are coming right out of their undergraduate experience and evaluating whether to go directly into employment or a program to earn an MBA or law degree. For the most part, the general consensus among speakers at the Business of Baseball Workshop seemed to be that the networking potential of these programs often outweighs getting the actual degree.

– Lastly, it was shocking to learn how little job seekers utilize social media. Whether it’s not maintaining an online presence, such as LinkedIn, not taking advantage of the networking opportunities afforded by social and digital media, and/or not taking the initiative to begin writing or publishing content online, it seems the up-and-coming generation is not getting the instruction they need from their undergraduate teachers and career centers to best set themselves up for the job they want after graduation. For example, for all the job opportunities at the PBEO Job Fair, dozens more are posted weekly on sites like Teamwork Online. (Which many attendees did not know about)

Anything else?

All PBEO Job Fair attendees also get access to the Baseball Winter Meetings Trade Show (recap to come of that), at which vendors from several verticals tangentially related to baseball set up exhibition booths. Not only is it fun for job seekers to walk around and take it all in, but it’s also a great networking opportunity to talk to club representatives touring the Trade Show themselves, as well as the vendors who may have opportunities for the right people. Also…free food samples and free swag!

In reality, much of the time is spent waiting around the Job Fair area and checking the posting rooms for more positions for which to drop a resume and reviewing the updates in the interview room to see if one has been selected to interview for a position. There are plenty of enthusiastic, fun young adults around to chat with, though!

While there are plenty of the expected jobs like Ticket Sales, Media Relations, Community Relations, Marketing, etc., these were the entry-level positions that stood out to me (a foot in the door):
– Facility and Event Management
– Human Resources
– Broadcasting (both in terms of job opportunities and the amount of interest among job seekers)
Attendees also have the opportunity to purchase tickets to additional events, notably the Awards Luncheon held on the first afternoon of the Winter Meetings and the Gala held on the last night of the event. (Each costs $75/ticket)

There you have it. A look at the Baseball Winter Meetings Job Fair that hopefully gave you the basics and the inside info you need.

I will have a few more posts coming soon about the Job Fair, including memorable quotes and insights from the Workshop panels, some great advice from the VP of Human Resources for the Atlanta Braves, and a tour of the Trade Show.
I also highly recommend this MLB.com feature detailing two baseball operations job seekers’ journey at the Winter Meetings.

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact me via Twitter or LinkedIn.

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