What It Takes to Work For a Hockey Team
By Fahd Pasha
Hockey is more than a game to Canadians. The sport is part of the national identity of this great country – and for many young Canadians, lacing up a pair of skates and hitting the ice was an important, memorable part of their childhoods. Hockey enthusiasts might have even dreamed of turning their childhood passion into a career when they grew up – whether on, or off, the ice.
Now, rest assured, to work in a professional sports environment you do not need to be a first-round pick in the NHL Entry Draft. Because behind these professional stars are hundreds (sometimes thousands) of employees working behind-the-scenes year-round – even after the regular season or playoffs ends.
To learn what it takes to be part of the team behind the team, we spoke with Mark Titus, Corporate Partnerships and Activation Coordinator with the Ottawa Senators to find out what it took to land a role with a Canadian hockey team, and what his role entails.
Tell us about your current role.
I’m a Coordinator of Corporate Partnerships and Activation with the Ottawa Senators. My responsibilities include management of the organization’s corporate partnership programs. On any given day, this includes advertising, hosting events, booking tickets and suites, and managing social media campaigns for our corporate partners.
What does a typical day look like for you, both during the hockey season and outside of it?
Working for a professional sports team is a 24/7 gig. During the season, my days focus on execution. This involves being in regular contact with our partners to finalize plans and provide status updates on programs in process, such as social media campaigns.
Once the season ends, my days consist of working with our partners to give them a recap of their sponsorship efforts and planning for the next year. In addition, work also begins to prioritize securing new potential partners for the next year.
How did you land your job? What process were you required to go through a secure position with the Ottawa Senators?
My journey with the Senators organization began as a Corporate Sales Intern, which completed my internship requirement as a Sports Management student at Brock University. But, obtaining the internship required a variety of previous experience I collected. This included work and volunteer efforts for the Toronto Blue Jays, Professional Hockey Players’ Association, Niagara Sport Commission, and St. Catharines Jr. B Falcons. Not to mention, the relationships and connections I leveraged from these positions as references.
The application process was pretty standard with the submission of a cover letter, resume and references. However, since I was still a student, it was important to be as responsive and flexible as possible since I was not able to meet in-person.
Once my four-month internship wrapped up and thanks to the fact that it was a very hands-on experience due to a full-time employee’s vacation, I was able to demonstrate my commitment and value to the team which resulted in being hired on a contract basis which led to my current full-time position.
There are so many die-hard fans who would love to work for a sports team. What do you feel set you apart from the crowd?
I’ve been a hockey fan since I first skated at the age of 4. The passion for the game can be an incredible asset; however, it needs to be managed. An individual wanting to work for a professional sports team needs to balance fandom with their responsibilities. As a fan, emotions can get the best of you. For instance, I have seen individuals get star struck meeting a player. And, in fact, for that very reason, some teams won’t consider a fan for certain roles.
In my case, while I’ve loved the game ever since I stepped foot on the ice, I accompanied that with years of education and volunteering in the industry. That became a key differentiator which demonstrated my ability to balance my fandom with professionalism.
What is the most important thing you learned while working for the Ottawa Senators?
Building relationships are the key to success. As an intern, it’s easy to focus on the tasks at hand and not look at the bigger picture. During my internship, I got to know as many people in the organization as possible. I wasn’t afraid to start conversations with numerous staff (including senior leaders, when appropriate) and it showed management that I had the confidence, curiosity and drive to succeed.
Additionally, strong communication skills go hand-in-hand with relationship-building. Having the ability to strategically communicate with co-workers and partners to ask the difficult questions allows you to get a better understanding of their strategy and goals.
What advice do you have for others wanting to work for a sports team?
Gain experience and build connections. The sports industry is a small world and you will be surprised to learn how many people know each other. Use internships as a way to test career options and find something you like. Embrace challenges that come your way. And keep an open mind when applying to positions.
Experience and connections are the key to finding a career in professional sports.
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