Archive for February, 2015

2015Feb 3

Internship Profile – Shawn Salaj (Montreal Alouettes)

By Blog Contributor Tyler Fitch 

For decades, the Canadian Football League (CFL) has provided Sports Administration students with an opportunity to launch their careers in the sports industry. SPAD Grad Marcel Desjardins began his career as a communications assistant with the CFL League Office, eventually rising the ranks to general manager of the Ottawa REDBLACKS. During the 2014 season, each of the four CFL eastern division teams had a SPAD student working within their organization. Shawn Salaj spent his third consecutive year as a Training Camp Assistant with the Montreal Alouettes, an experience that give him a tremendous amount of practical experience that he hopes to use in the future. We sat down with Shawn to learn more about his job:


Q: Hi Shawn, thank you for taking the time to speak with the SPAD Blog. I understand you are coming off of a busy summer and I’m looking forward to finding out more about your time in the CFL. Can you tell us more about how you obtained the position?

SS – For sure. I actually have a neighbour back in Ottawa who is related to a former SPAD grad who works in football operations for the Montreal Alouettes. I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know him over the years and he is actually how I found out about SPAD. Once he found out that I had accepted the offer to enroll in SPAD, he mentioned a training camp assistant position I could apply for if I was looking to gain some experience in the field. I applied for the position after my first year of university and I was lucky enough to get the position. I’ve been going back every year since.
Q: Can you describe an average day on the job?

SS – Basically my main job was to drive players and coaches around. Training camp was held at Bishop’s University which is about two hours outside of Montreal and it was my job to pick people up at the airport in Montreal and bring them out to camp. I also had to drive players to MRI’s if they got injured. When I wasn’t driving, I was just trying to help out with general administration tasks in the office they had set up at the University. That included, handing out room keys and meal cards to players, entering transactions into the database, assembling the players’ season ticket packages, and a lot of other things.


Q:  That’s amazing that you got to be so close with the players. It seems like you put a lot of hours into your job.  What was the greatest challenge that you faced?

SS – The greatest challenge I faced definitely had to be the fact that I had to drive around Montreal every day. Being from Ottawa, I had never driven in Montreal by myself before and now I was responsible for getting players and coaches where they had to be. It definitely took a while to figure out the airport and how to get to parking as well as figuring out how aggressive I had to drive in the city.

Q: Is this a career you could see yourself doing?

SS – I could definitely see myself working in the CFL in some capacity. I love the game and I’ve really enjoyed my years with the Alouettes. I don’t really know what aspect of the business I would like to be involved in down the road because I’ve enjoyed doing everything so far but I would definitely like to work for a CFL organization some day.


Shawn Salaj & I at the conclusion of a 2014 preseason game between the Ottawa REDBLACKS and Montreal Alouettes.

Q: What is the most important tool or skill that you learned in class that helped you succeed in your position?

SS – Honestly, the importance of networking is 100% the most important thing SPAD has taught me. I’ve always been that shy kid so I really had to make an effort to get myself out there and networking. Getting to know people with the Alouettes has opened up a lot of opportunities for me and I’ve had the chance to meet some great people over the past few years.


Q: I know you are also passionate about CFL Football. What was the highlight of your respective experiences?

SS – The highlight of my experience would probably have to be when I had the opportunity to drive Chad Johnson this past summer. I just remember picking him up from the airport and there were people lining up to take pictures with him. I also had the chance to buy him McDonald’s which was an honour. Definitely throwing that one on the résumé.


Q: Do you have any advice for SPAD students who are looking to get into the industry?

SS – My advice to SPAD students is to start early. Don’t wait for your fourth year internship to get experience. Apply for positions you may be interested in right now. It’s a great résumé builder and having that experience before your internship could be the difference between landing an internship you really want and having an internship you are not all that interested in.


Thank you for sharing your experiences with the readers about your experience working in the CFL this summer.