Sports reporting is big business in today's culture. Few media outlets carry greater clout than ESPN, whose holdings include 24 networks outside the U.S. that allow the company to reach sports fans in 61 countries and all seven continents. Joining ESPN's roster is a hotly competitive proposition – but hardly an impossible one, if you're ready to work long hours, gain as much hands-on experience as possible and learn from peers in the industry.
Get a Journalism Degree
Earning a bachelor's degree in journalism or communications is the first step in an ESPN reporting career. This education will include classes in journalistic ethics and techniques. Since you'll work in the broadcasting field, classes in audio and video production and multimedia design are also necessary, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics states. Many programs require liberal arts classes in English, economics, history and political science, as well, to ensure that graduates can cover different subjects.
Get an Internship
Like any media employer, ESPN places a premium on practical experience. The most common starting point to get it is an unpaid internship that offers the skills to advance your career. One example is ESPN "SportsCenter" personality Kevin Neghandi, who completed five internships with local radio and TV stations before graduating from Temple University, the Bleacher Report states. Neghandi then built these experiences into an eight-year local sports reporting career before ESPN hired him in 2006.
Develop a Track Record
Many ESPN anchors start in smaller markets first, which lays the groundwork for landing jobs in major cities. For example, Samantha Ponder started as a football reporter at the Longhorn Network. Ponder's success there prompted ESPN to hire her as a sideline reporter for its "Thursday Night College Football" program, and then, hosting its "College GameDay" show. Proving you can handle more difficult assignments is how you get ESPN's attention, Ponder advises in an interview for its FrontRow website.
Learn Another Language
Although it's not a requirement, bilingual skills can enhance your marketability for an employer like ESPN, which serves a large Latin American viewing audience. One example is ESPN sideline reporter and presentation host Pedro Gomez, who began his career covering baseball for an English-language newspaper, "VOXXI" reported in July 2013. As Gomez notes, while he wasn't hired only for his bilingual skills, a reporter who demonstrates them can make players from other countries feel comfortable, while boosting viewers' understanding of games.
ESPN's image as an all-star broadcasting destination means doing whatever you can to stand out professionally. Before Neghandi came to ESPN, he worked as a sports director for an ABC-affiliated station in Sarasota, Florida – where he won three Associated Press awards, the Bleacher Report states. Applicants who demonstrate these kinds of results are more likely to interest the network than those who don't.