Sportsmen’s Tennis & Enrichment Center started in 1961 as the brainchild of Jim and Gloria Smith, two avid tennis players based out of Dorchester, MA. The Smiths established Sportsmen’s in an effort to bring tennis to an urban setting while setting local youth up for less competitive sports scholarships.
While the initial goal was to teach kids the fundamentals of tennis and to get them into college, the Smiths quickly realized that these students would need additional support to prepare for the academic rigor of the colleges they were applying to. Thus, Sportsmen’s Tennis & Enrichment Center was born, where tennis is merely the tip of the iceberg.
We recently spoke with Mary Long, Director of Development at Sportsmen’s, to learn more about the company and the opportunities they have to offer current Emersonians.
How would you describe the culture of working at Sportsmen’s?
Mary: “The culture is really a warm and friendly environment. We really thrive on the mentality that teamwork is what makes it all happen. We teach our kids in the building just like we work with our staff, that it’s great to be able to work independently and be successful, but if you really want to achieve something you’ve got to have a team. That is something that’s really important to us. Being a tennis facility, you can imagine it’s a very casual atmosphere, too.”
What are some of your roles open to current students?
Mary: “Video production is huge for us…. There are a lot of great stories we could tell that we could put on our website or share with potential funders. We’d share them through social media using videos, so that is one position which we could never have enough of.
Another thing is we don’t have a staff person that is assigned specifically to social media. Right now we’re blessed to have a Senior from Emerson College that is actually overseeing and trying to grow our base for our social media platforms. There are a lot of exciting things that are going to be taking place this year in celebration of our 60th anniversary. Unfortunately, with the pandemic, much of it is going to be done virtually, but there are a lot of milestones that we will be celebrating.
Having someone well-versed in social media is key and what better place than a communications school like Emerson.
The last opportunity we have supports our Tennis Ball, our largest fundraiser which is held in November. At this point, who knows if the event will be live in-person or hybrid, but we have a Marketing & Event Planning internship position around marketing the event. It’s a role focused on spreading the word that we have this great event coming where we will recognize four individuals while celebrating 60 years of Sportsmen’s. For folks who want to work on the event itself, it’s the planning of the actual event and we complement the event with a silent auction. So the role is also focused on doing recruitment of auction donations.
It’s a very broad description and when I talk to people about the Marketing & Event Planning Internship I say ‘Don’t be frightened, we’re not expecting it all.’ What we’d like you to do is pick and choose what you think you’d be most successful at and have the most fun doing and take it from there. If that means we have more than one intern in that position then so be it. We work together as a team.”
What are some of the skills or skillsets you look for in applicants?
Mary: “In a case like video production we need to make sure you’re someone well-seasoned in that area. In video production we seek a qualified, skilled candidate, but in all cases with our interns we also look for a sense of humor.
In all opportunities we look for someone who’s well spoken and can communicate both on paper and verbally. We also look for someone who’s flexible, can work independently and, most importantly, someone who when it’s time to roll up their sleeves – is willing to jump in on that, too.”
Do you have any advice for folks just starting their career?
Mary: “I think my first piece of advice is: Do research on the position and the company that you’re going to be working for. On day one, you want to show them that you’re interested and motivated and that you can dive right in.
My second piece of advice is: Don’t be afraid to ask questions. It’s better to ask if you’re unsure about something than to do the task and have it be done incorrectly. First of all, you’re going to feel deflated and like you’re a disappointment. Not at all — everyone makes mistakes, but if you have an ounce of question, people in a supervisory role respect being asked questions when it’s on someone’s mind.
Third: Speak up! Your opinions matter. If you’re not comfortable in orchestrating something or if it isn’t the way you think is the most beneficial way to do it, speak up. You supervisor and your peers are all going to be excited that you’re taking this so seriously and it’s going to matter.
Another thing is to record all of your accomplishments. As soon as you achieve something, write it down and update your resume. It’s far easier to update your resume when things are fresh in your mind than going back and saying ‘Now what was that thing I did?’
My last thing is network, network, network. Find organizations that you know within your field or young professionals, middle-aged professional groups, whatever it is, take advantage of it. You never know when someone is going to hear about a potential position or volunteer opportunity and share it with you.”
Sportsmen’s Tennis & Enrichment Center will be in attendance at the upcoming School of the Arts Virtual Internship Fair (Register) and the School of Communication Virtual Internship Fair (Register), happening on March 16th and 18th respectively.
Connect with Mary and her team during these events to learn more about the company and how you can get involved!