Derek shared tips on how you can land an internship with the Canucks in an earlier article, We Are All Canucks: Scoring the Job, and now he’s back to share how he landed his current gig as a Canucks.com writer, writing featured pieces, game recaps, engaging with an active Twitter audience (@canucksgame) and even taking the occasional road trip with the team.
On a chilly morning in February Derek sat down with me in the empty bowl of Rogers Arena, it was the perfect setting to share how he landed his ideal job.
Derek attended journalism school in Winnipeg where his affiliation with the Canucks began by writing for the Manitoba Moose.
“I put two and two together that the Manitoba Moose were the farm team for the Canucks,” he said. “Which I’d known forever, but didn’t realize there was an opportunity to cover the farm team for the Canucks. I got in contact with Kevin [the website director] to do some player profiles.”
Second year journalism students were required to do two three-week internships, and Derek knew just where he wanted to do his – in Vancouver, with the Canucks. Despite having made some connections with the team, there weren’t any short-term internships available, but Derek managed to convince the team to make an exception, working for three weeks in January and April of 2008, even though the team didn’t make the play offs.
“Kevin jokes that I just bullied him to hire me,” he quipped.
Once he graduated, Derek moved to Vancouver to cover the team as a free lancer, where his talent and dedication eventually led to a full-time position, a dream come true for the Manitoba boy.
“This has literally been my dream job since I was 10 years-old,” he said. “I remember coming to the All Star game with my dad and standing outside what is now gate 16 and getting autographs from Peter Forsberg and Patrick Roy and now that’s the gate I come in every morning when I come to work so that’s kind of surreal.”
When asked what his favorite part of the job was, he couldn’t pick just one thing.
“I love that every day is different, like right now I have to organize the Tanner Glass scrabble tournament, which has just been a completely new venture, and then there’s a game tonight to cover. Tomorrow’s a travel day for the team so I’ll do a community story… it seems like you play 82 games and you do the same thing all the time, but there’s so much change and so many stories. I love everything, that’s too hard of a question.”
In fact, even when pressed he couldn’t find a bad thing to say about his job.
“As cheesy or corny as it sounds there’s no bad part of the job for me, I love everything about this job.”
Derek does acknowledge that providing web content for an NHL team can be gruelling, with 15-hour days not being uncommon when there’s a game being played.
“You need a good work ethic,” he said. “It’s weird working for a website, because websites never sleep…They’re never down. Whereas newspapers go to print and then they’re done. There’s always things to update on the site, we could probably work 24 hours a day.” But, Derek continued, “That’s a part of the job, by the end of the season it can become a grind, but we make up for it in the summer.”
When asked if he considered writing for a newspaper rather than working for the team, he made it clear that despite a few draw backs, being an in-house writer is where he wanted to be.
“I try to be as positive a person as I can,” he answered. “When you’re a part of the team there’s a lot you can’t report, the negative side of things…..when you open the sports page a lot of the time it’s the negative aspect, even though the team won the game…. I don’t agree with that, I don’t like that negativity. I love finding the positive aspects of the team, and realizing that these guys are just normal guys, they have bad games. Yes they make a lot of money and they’re in a big spotlight in a big market, but they’re allowed to have an off day.”
“I just prefer to focus on the positives instead of dwelling on the negatives. There’s a lot of great stuff about these guys and about the Canucks that I prefer [focusing on] over the power play structure.” A commendable view, and an attitude to aspire to, whether approaching the end of the play offs or preparing for your own dream job.
The people we aspire to be and the idols we admire, whether they’re scoring the overtime winner or running their own marketing department, had to start somewhere. As Derek’s story shows, with hard work and talent, you too can land the job of your dreams.