Sometimes during the week, I like to kick up my feet and share my war stories with some of our interns. Maybe it’s my teacher quality, but I like to offer our interns advice — solicited or unsolicited — because like most of us in college athletics, I had to learn some lessons the hard way. I learned a lot by trial and error growing up in my profession. Not because I needed to but because I had to. And I'm still learning lessons today.
My goal is to learn at least one thing or teach someone something new each day. If I don't, then that day is not a success to me.
My stories may not be as cool as some others in the business or in other professional sectors, but each story has played a critical part in my development. And I want to impart those experiences on others.
As a former intern myself, I knew if I wanted to make it in this profession, I had to separate myself from the pack.
How do you separate yourself from the others? Whether you're a young intern learning the ropes, or a veteran in need of a refresher, here are seven insights that I think are crucial for anyone working in college athletics.
1. Every day is a job interview. I’m beginning to sound like a broken record on this one because I say it so often. You never know who’s watching your every move. Plus, people in college athletics talk. Make sure the impression you're leaving is a good one.
2. Stay in your lane. Don’t veer into “oncoming traffic” or other people’s areas of expertise. Curiosity and wanting to learn new things is great, but recognize when someone else knows better than you do.
3. Under promise and over deliver. Don’t set the expectations so high that you fail to reach them. Talk is cheap. Don’t promise the world just to sound good if you know you can’t achieve the follow-through.
4. Don't be above the job. Here’s what I mean: just because it’s not in your job description, or it’s “grunt” work doesn’t mean you get a free pass. Do it. I’ve done grunt work everyday since I started working in college athletics 13 years ago. To be great in this industry, know that you have to put in extra hours and do more than just what's required of you.
5. Expect to screw up. No one is perfect. I’m a perfectionist. I hate to make mistakes, but that is the only way we learn and get better.
6. Dress for the job you want, not the job you have. Maybe you've heard this one before, but that's because it's good advice.
7. Never stop learning. Always try to learn as much as possible. With as quickly as things evolve in our profession, you never know when that knowledge will come in handy.
I offer this advice not because I think I’m sage or wise, but because I never had the resources to seek advice from others when I was new to our profession. If this advice helps even one person, then I feel I’ve done my job.
Chris Yandle is the assistant athletic director for communications and public relations at Georgia Tech. You can follow him on Twitter, @ChrisYandle and hear him speak at the 2014 Athletic Business Conference & Expo.