College students, recent college graduates, sports professionals, and executives gathered at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, D.C. for the AT&T Nation’s Football Classic “Diversity in Sports Forum: Pathways Into the Industry,” hosted by Events DC, Friday, Sept. 16. In a featured interview, which kicked off the sports forum, ESPN sports journalist Howard Bryant interviewed Kerry Chandler, chief human resources officer for popular sports brand, Under Armour.
The forum itself included two panel discussions and a career fair that connected job seekers with sports industry employers seeking diversity in their talent ranks.
“We didn’t do a lot of this when I was coming up,” said Bryant in his opening remarks. “It would have been fantastic to be in a situation to see someone who looks like you and is in the position you would like to get to,” Bryant said to Chandler.
Bryant began the conversation by asking the attendees, which of them had aspirations of working in the sports field. To no surprise, more than 75% of the hands in the room went up. Then, Chandler, a graduate of the first historically black college and university, Lincoln University, expressed deep encouragement to the audience.
Anyone who has ever had a job or an internship knows that your interview is your door into the position that you desire. However, although it is the position you are after, Chandler advises that you make sure you want to be around the people interviewing you, as well as know that they will support you.
Chandler also expressed that “you get better working with tough people.”
With attendees being predominantly black, Chandler inspired them to aim for the stars in whatever they do.
“Don’t take pride in being the only one of anything,” Chandler said. “Break down the barriers in the workplace.”
With knowledge of how to succeed in the sports industry being a woman of color, Chandler said that the biggest challenge is one that we put on ourselves as people of color.
According to Chandler, it is better to have experience than to have the highest grade point average and know nothing about working.
“Internship. Internship. Internship,” said Chandler. “Show your work elsewhere when you don’t get the job you desire.”
As the weekend is centered around the 2016 AT&T Nation’s Classic football game occurring on Saturday, student-athletes also took their seats in the ballroom seeking advice for obtaining jobs outside of being the player on the field or court. To them, Chandler offered the advice of obtaining leadership positions on the team and paying attention to the work they do during the summer.
“There are a lot of companies interested in student-athletes because you have to know how to work as a team and balance your schedule,” Chandler said in response to a graduate student-athlete’s question regarding obtaining a job in the field.
In conclusion, Chandler left the audience with advice on making themselves memorable in an interview to increase their stakes of obtaining the position they desire:
-Know the company.
-Know information about the person interviewing you.
-Have pen and paper.-Always let your personality show.
-Editor’s Note: Originally published on theshadowleague.com