Jarrod is from Healdsburg, CA and attended Cardinal Newman High School before heading to the University of Oregon to play football. He did not know what he wanted to do while in college, but decided to give U of O’s excellent sports marketing program a try. Since he was a double major in English and History, with a business minor already, he met with the Sports Marketing teacher Rick Burton to see if he could sit in on the classes. After much discussion Burton eventually agreed. Jarrod really enjoyed the class, which had guest speakers from Nike and the Portland Trail Blazers. With two quarters remaining in his collegiate career, he decided on a sports oriented career path.
At the time, Jarrod had an internship with an investment company. He would spend an hour of each day cold calling sports teams in the Bay Area to see if they had any positions available. Through his persistence and desire to work in sports, he found an opportunity to work full-time with a minor league baseball team called the Sonoma County Crushers. At the time the squad had former Giants great Kevin Mitchell as their player-coach. Jarrod was there for a all of 2001. Because the team was severely under staffed, Jarrod’s duties included everything from his official director of sales position to public relations, field keeper and even PA announcer. As if he weren’t busy enough, he also found time to go to classes at Sonoma State University to work on his graduate degree.
While still a senior at Oregon, Jarrod had an exit interview with his football coach who asked what he wanted to pursue after college. Jarrod told him that he wanted to work in sports so his coach pulled some strings and got him an interview with the San Francisco Giants. He would interview with three people, but unfortunately no positions were available. He kept in touch with the Giants while working for the Crushers so when a position opened up they remembered him. He landed the Giants sales job due to his networking capabilities and the diverse experience he obtained with the Crushers.
Working in sales, Jarrod given the opportunity to work in a new facet of a sports team focusing on special events. After a just a year, he had helped the team’s special events grow from 15 to 42 events, resulting in a 32,000 ticket sales increase.
Jarrod is now Director of Ticket Sales for the Oakland Raiders, and manages ten sales executives and twelve interns. He has been with the organization for four months and is anxiously awaiting the opportunity to lead the first marketing effort by the team in eleven years.
When asked about how a student can get into sports, here’s what Jarrod had to say:
“Hard work and persistence are things that you can’t teach, but every person I’ve ever talked to that is in sports has displayed those two qualities. There are a good amount of entry level positions available, but moving up and progressing your career is the hard part.”
“Follow your dreams. I had dreams of playing in the NFL, and this (working for the Raiders) is the closest thing to it. You have one chance for you to do what you want to do, and my biggest fear is to be 70 years-old looking back at your life and to have regrets about things you didn’t do. There’s a path for all of us so as long as you’re a hard worker and you believe in yourself you’re going to end up being alright.”
I think that Jarrod also touched on two key points in regards to a career, especially in sales. When I asked him about the single most important lesson he’s learned in sales, he said it was professionalism. He doesn’t expect for college grads to come out right away and demonstrate the professionalism that someone who has been in sales for awhile has, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t work at it. Shaving, dressing well and speaking clearly is something that we’ve had to work on during the Pursue The Passion tour because most of the people don’t know what to expect when we walk through the door. So the professionalism point has really been a focal point.
The second point that Jarrod made was about reputation. When he was working with the San Francisco Giants organization, he earned a reputation as a leader through his hard work in sales with the special events program. But the thing that struck me above all else was that Jarrod looked forward to the opportunity to gain respect with the Raiders organization. I think that this attitude is something all students should take with them into their first job. We are all going to be judged by the work that we do in our first months on the job. Establishing a reputation as a hard working employee that is willing to volunteer to help out the good of the team is something that will build your reputation and help you in the long run.