I was on the phone with a longtime friend who’s an area scout last week. I was discussing with him some of my interns, and how often they are hoping to get into the business some day. I think I mentioned that I’m always trying to ‘crack the code’ for finding opportunities for young people in such a situation. His response was that it’s very simple.

“I would tell them to get G.A. jobs,” he said. “That seems to be where everyone is hiring from these days.”

Could it be that simple? Well, maybe so.

At ITL, we track these things, and do brief backgrounds on the scouts that are getting hired by NFL teams these days. I think most scouts that have been in the game more than 10 years were former coaches who moved in through their relationships. Relationships are still very important, which is just another reason to find a grad assistant job if you’re in college and hoping to be an NFL talent evaluator someday. That’s especially true if you’re a grad assistant assigned to the personnel department, a relatively new part of college staffs.

Think about it.

  • You get to work around football, obviously, even though college ‘personnel’ jobs vary widely in what they actually mean.
  • You meet key people around the game. This is especially true if you are able to help out with pro days, or even organize them; most college coaches see this as a chore, not an opportunity.
  • You get to learn all the buzzwords, practices, habits and expectations of people around the game.
  • Most importantly, you will probably meet several actual NFL scouts, and perhaps even win them over. There are no better people for bringing you into the league than those already in the league.

At the end of the day, an all-consuming work ethic is the most important thing you need to get into the business, but connections are an important part, too. If you’re a college student reading this right now, I urge you to do whatever you can to volunteer for your school’s team. Do it right now. Even if you’re already a sport management major. Even if you’ve never picked up a football in your life. It’s probably the best way to get you on track, immediately, for a job in football.