Sports writers will tell you there are two types of communication people they tend to deal with. The first person makes life easy. The second person makes life difficult.
The first person understands exactly what you need, when you need it, and knows how to ferret out the information quickly. The second person is unhelpful and often slow.
Rob Raichlen of the Los Angeles Clippers is most certainly the first person. He truly gets it. He's thorough, dependable and fast. If you send him a request at 10 p.m. Tuesday night -- there's an answer waiting in your email inbox by Wednesday morning. You don't have to ask twice. With Raichlen, consider it done.
So when you're looking to make your mark on the sports industry, remember this ommunications maven and constantly remind yourself of what makes a solid professional.
Raichlen, like many of you, wanted a career in sports as far back as he can remember. Let's allow him to explain where he came from and how he landed with an NBA franchise:
"I have lived in the LA area my entire life, growing up in Pasadena," he says. "I attended USC from 1990-1994, majoring in business with an emphasis in marketing. I was always interested in sports growing up, and was a huge basketball fan in high school. While at USC, I knew I wanted to get a job in professional sports when I graduated, but I did not know how to go about it."
This might sound familiar. Sometimes we all want something so badly--but don't know where or how to start. Raichlen solved that problem by going out and finding the answer.
"The summer prior to the start of my senior year, a friend of mine and I attended a sports careers convention in Irvine, where I learned that the best way to get your foot in the door was through an internship. That's when I first contacted the Clippers. I got the game night internship, was eventually hired as a full-time intern the following season and finally was hired full time. I moved my way up the department and 11 years later, here I am."
Obviously, in order to move up the chain of command at a pro hoops franchise, you must impress. He did. Notice the team hasn't let him go. Organizations kill for these types of reliable people.
Here's an example of what Raichlen does for the Clips: "My job entails many different aspects of PR. My primary responsibility is setting up all interviews with players, coaches and front office employees. I also serve as an editor for all team publications including the media guide and Hoop game program. I also travel with the team on a full-time basis, serving as the team's media relation liaison with local, national and international media."
However, before you get the idea that the job is nothing but glamour, let's pause for a caveat emptor. Raichlen isnít exactly working banker's hours. He works late, he works weekends, he works early and often. That's where the passion comes in. Because he loves sports and the industry, doing some of the more routine aspects of his job isn't so bad.
"Some of the mundane responsibilities of the job include, while on the road, waking up early and printing out all of the local and national sports stories off the internet for our coaches and media, to keep them up to date on what is going on in the NBA," he says. "I also handle all player ticket buys when we are on the road, which can take up quite a bit of time depending on what city we are in.
As far as advice, here's what the Clipper veteran has to say: "The key advice I would give to someone interested in getting into sports is get an internship. You are going to work for free and put in a lot of hours, but this is the best and sometimes only way to get your foot in the door. A team is going to hire someone they already know, an intern, before they look to the outside, as long as the intern is a qualified candidate."
Take it from somebody who knows from experience.