I can vividly remember hearing this phrase on my first day in the University of Cincinnati Sport Administration program. Every industry professional that came into our classes would preach networking and the importance of working hard in our internships, which are both vital parts of working in sports. This particular phrase, however, has stuck with me over the past few years.
I began as an intern at the University of Cincinnati and Wright State. I then spent time at Xavier University, University of Cincinnati (again) and Northern Kentucky University before starting at the University of Tennessee as a Marketing Assistant this past summer. I’ve learned that every position you hold, no matter what level, what school, what division or what conference, can teach you something very valuable to your career.
Originally, I did not fully understand what it meant to “grow where you’re planted”, but after having had the opportunity to work in several very different “gardens” over the past five years, I have come to learn the true meaning of this saying. In my experience, the key to getting the most out of each experience is setting professional goals for each new position, utilizing resources, forming and maintaining relationships, taking risks and continuing to learn every day.
The single best piece of advice I ever received from a mentor came from Brad Wurthman (@wurthman). He told me “if you take a job you’re completely ready for, you’ll never grow.” I remember being terrified when I got the job at Tennessee. Whether that fear was stemming from the fact this was my first full-time position or being intimidated by the expectations and magnitude of the SEC, I felt scared that I was not ready to take on everything that would be thrown at me.
The truth is you are never fully ready. Things will come up you were not prepared for and you will fail at times, but these instances are incredible opportunities to learn and grow. A lot of what we do in this industry cannot be taught in a classroom. Sometimes, you just have to take your best shot at it, and if it doesn’t work out, go back to the drawing board and figure out how to make it work the next time. And remember, no matter what point you are at in your career, what university, conference or division you work for, there is always an opportunity to keep learning and growing.