As this is ‘application season’ if you’re seeking a position with an NFL team or a football agency, I thought I’d give a couple more thoughts on how to best position yourself for the internship of a lifetime.

This weekend I was speaking to an NFL scout who’s been a longtime friend. I had asked him to speak to a young man I know who’s seeking to work as a scouting assistant this summer or next fall (I work with several young people of this status), and in the course of our conversation, this young man’s name came up.

Unsolicited, my friend told me the young man would probably not fit in with his organization. The student’s mistake had been that, in his zeal to sound intelligent and organized, he had come across as too refined and ‘executive-level’ for the tastes of my friend. Maybe because of the way he had spoken, the scout saw him as a person who would not be as willing to do the ‘dirty work’ of scouts, such as entering phone numbers into a database, calling agents to get contact information, picking up interviewees from the airport as well as returning them to the airport, and all the kinds of player engagement duties and basic information-gathering that are less than glamorous.

This is unfortunate, because I know he read the young man wrong. He may be refined, but he’s in no way too good for such duties. In fact, I think he’d relish them, but it doesn’t matter now. He hadn’t come across as enough of a ‘regular guy’ for my scouting friend. And because of that, he’d sealed his fate.

On the other hand, his style of communication would work perfectly for an agency. There, the people interviewing him might have a legal background or at least the kind of high-level professional manner that would expect a certain polish. And as it turns out, this young man did, in fact, land a place with a high-level firm that handles top athletes across several sports. He’ll be with them this summer.

I guess the moral of the story is to know your audience. By a wide margin, scouting assistants and interns are hired by scouts themselves who are a bit more down-to-earth. They are used to hanging around the locker room, talking to ‘little people,’ and maybe even have coaching backgrounds. They’re used to getting sweaty and dirty and they talk like it. On the other hand, appealing to an agency might take a smoother approach. They’ll want to see that you can handle life around a boardroom, a courtroom, or the like.

This is just something to keep in mind as you position yourself for career enhancement this summer. Best of luck in your search.

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