Last week Dr. Amy Giddings (the founder of this blog and one of my professors of Sport Management at Drexel) and I filled in for another professor in the department and it was a great experience! The undergraduate class was in Leadership and the week’s discussion was on gender issues. Dr. Giddings taught the first section while I taught the second, so we both discussed this blog! As part of the lecture, we asked the students for some feedback on our website, and one piece of advice that really stood out to me was: you guys are doing a great job at inspiring women to become coaches…but what about telling them how to become coaches? Well, here is how I did it, and you can, too!
1) Follow your passion. I was a math major in college and then went on to work at various consulting firms, crunching numbers in Excel at all hours of the day and putting together PowerPoint presentations. While this path followed my skills, it certainly wasn’t the road to my passion for running, being outside, and engaging with and helping others. Coaching, on the other hand, certainly fulfills these desires.
2) Update your resume. By the time I was 27 (which was the time I started looking for a coaching job), my resume was full of phrases like “Trusted advisor on employer health and welfare programs” and “Assisted biotech and pharmaceutical companies in defining, creating, and executing commercial development strategies.” These have nothing to do with coaching cross country or track, right? So I revamped my resume to bring in as much as I could about my experience as a runner, running camp counselor, team captain, student athletic trainer…anything I could to show my experience and potential skills to become a coach.
3) Contact potential employers and be enthusiastic! I e-mailed approximately 80 colleges and universities in the Philadelphia area, high schools, and neighborhood track clubs asking for assistant coaching positions, paid or volunteer! I heard back from many head coaches who, even though they didn’t have a need for a coach at the time, were impressed with my passion and enthusiasm and said they would hold onto my resume (and I have actually received e-mails from them throughout the past couple of years asking if I am still available)! I was lucky enough to hear a response from Bryn Mawr College and have been working there as the Cross Country and Track & Field assistant ever since. It has been an unbelievably great fit for me, and while I was hired due to the timing of the team’s needs (the new head coach was looking for a new assistant), I also know that my background in the sport and passion for wanting to become a coach had something to do with it as well
4) Create a network. Join every LinkedIn group you can that has something to do with your sport, the coaches and administrators in it, and the skills behind it. “Like” the same organizations on Facebook and follow them on Twitter. Go to clinics and conventions and meet people (I even had my own business cards made up for this purpose). E-mail these contacts every few months, even if just to say hello.
Good luck! Hopefully you will realize that nowhere in this post did I mention becoming certified or going to school before becoming a coach. While I have done both since becoming a coach (I am USATF Level I certified and finishing my master’s in Sport Management at Drexel), I did not have these qualifications when I first started looking for a job. I am a firm believer, therefore, that if you follow your passion with perseverance, your career path will become much more accessible and opportunities will evolve that you never before imagined.