7 Internship Search Tips for College Athletes

Athletes often have a challenging time fitting in an internship along with college classes and daily sports practices. Many teams require attendance at practice for a majority of the school year.  What’s a student athlete to do? Here are seven tips just for you:

7 Internship Search Tips for College Athletes

Visit Career Services

This may seem obvious, but Career Services can be overlooked. Don’t make that mistake.  If you go to a DI or DII school, you may have additional resources. Large universities, like Texas A & M, have “Athletic Career Services” which tailor their program to the special needs of student athletes. In addition to helping you with resume writing and interviewing, the career counselor will likely have suggestions for specific internships. They may even have short term opportunities with local employers, often called externships or winternships, that can be available during winter break.

Find Mentor or Advisor

Some schools have a career or life skills advisor on staff for the athletes. Many of them are former athletes themselves which is very helpful. As an example, Aziz Abdur-Ra’oof is the Director of Student Welfare and Career Development at the University of Maryland. He works within the Athletic Department and partners with the University Career Services on many of the career development events they host on campus.

Besides being a former NFL wide receiver for the Kansas City Chiefs, Aziz has owned and operated his own business after completing his NFL career.  Aziz’s role at Maryland supports all athletes.  His typical day may involve helping an athlete polish their LinkedIn profile or resume. He may be conducting or collaborating with others on a variety of personal, career and leadership development workshops that are offered to student athletes.  Is there a mentor like Aziz at your university?

Ask other Campus Professionals for advice

Along with Career Services and career mentors, there are many other potential campus resources to help you find valuable work experience. Discuss your desire to have an internship with your professors and your academic advisor. Find out if your school has an Internship Director or department. Your coach may be another resource who will have ideas for you to consider.

Use your Summer & Start Early

Summer is often the best time for athletes to participate in an internship. This means you need to start your search process early in the school year. One popular competitive summer internship is Nike. Interns work at their Oregon headquarters or in the Netherlands. Interns have the opportunity to work in many facets of the business between mid-June and August. Apply in the winter for this prestigious internship.

Look for internships on campus:

Consider interning at an organization on campus. Your Career Services or school Internship Director will know which departments have opportunities on campus. Many of the larger athletic departments, such as Villanova University, have their own internship programs. Athletic departments hire marketing, operations, sales, facilities, media and public relations interns. Other university departments, such as alumni relations or admissions, may be hiring interns at your school.

Virtual Internship

You may want to consider an internship that allows you to work primarily online, especially if you have good self discipline and time management skills. Social media internships can be virtual. The advantage of these is time flexibility because you eliminate travel time to and from work. If you decide on a virtual internship, try to work around your academic and athletic schedules.

Consider an Off Season Academic Internship

Student athletes can consider signing up for an Academic Internship which is bundled with a course during their team’s off-season. Usually your academic advisor or school’s Internship Director can point you in the right direction for an academic internship. Many of these programs are either on campus or connected to employers that are conveniently located near your campus. You may be able to create an opportunity to combine your study with an internship for credit.

For all of these suggestions, make sure the internship meets all your criteria for a great position including valuable work assignments, competitive pay and mentorship. The internship should be one that matches your career and academic interests, as well as establishes and tracks learning goals.

Being a college athlete is a big commitment. Use all your resources and you will find the right internship opportunity. What other tips can you share with college athletes interested in an internship?


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Sandra Long

Sandra Long is the author of the bestselling book LinkedIn For Personal Branding: The Ultimate Guide. She is also the managing partner of Post Road Consulting LLC. Sandra and her team work with corporations, universities, and individuals to drive successful sales, career, and talent acquisition results.


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