Tom Witta • Star Tribune,
On the job with Jed "Koz” Kosmoski
- January 7, 2014 - 11:17 AM
The classic moves in the job-hunters’ playbook can get you to your dream job — Jed Kosmoski proved it. He has built and maintained his network over decades. When he found the organization he wanted to work for, he started as a volunteer. He made himself indispensable to management, and, ultimately, they found a way to make the job happen.
Kosmoski’s networking within the Twin Cities sports community goes back to the 1990s. He first met Mark “Lunch” McKenzie, now head baseball coach for Concordia University, in 1993 when McKenzie was head coach at Minnetonka High School.
“Koz was helping out in Wayzata, which was in the same conference,” McKenzie recalled. Their friendship deepened when McKenzie moved to Armstrong High School in Plymouth. “My sons were little kids. He was their buddy — he took them under his wing.”
In 1999, after Concordia University moved into Division II, McKenzie was hired as head coach. In 2004, he said, “Koz reappeared.” He’d been assisting with the Hamline University hockey team, where he had earned two championship rings.
Although Kosmoski was working in the fast food industry, the Concordia athletic department was where he really wanted to be. Marilee Larson, Employment Services Director at TSE Inc., who had helped Kosmoski with previous job placements, urged him to volunteer at Concordia.
“He’d be here every morning. He’d do anything I asked him to do,” Athletic Director Tom Rubelke recalled. “He helped us put up the practice domes, worked the front desk. At some point, I thought, ‘Why not hire him?’ ”
TSE Inc. helped with the arrangements for the job. Kosmoski has been working 19 hours a week for more than a year. Although his official duties are cleaning and maintaining the two weight rooms, Kosmoski works virtually all athletic events. Last year he began traveling with the baseball team.
“He’s the most conscientious guy in the world,” Rubelke said. “When he’s going to be away for a day, he makes sure that he gets someone to cover his job. If he misses four hours, he’ll make them up some other day.
“He was raised properly. He’s had a solid foundation. We’re not taking credit for his work ethic.”
A passionate sports fan, Kosmoski provides the coaching staff with updates on “every score,” McKenzie said. His skills include an outstanding memory. “I had a habit of calling myself and leaving a message when I needed to remember something. Now I just tell Koz — he’s better than a phone message.”
The most important contribution Kosmoski makes is something harder to define, McKenzie said. “When I got the Minnetonka job, Tom Kelly said, ‘Create an environment that makes the team want to go to the ballpark every day.’ This upbeat, positive person assists with that. When I’m having a bad day, and I’m faking it, he’s being genuine. He makes them want to be there.”
Why are you so interested in sports, and what’s your favorite?
I like the camaraderie. ... [I like] baseball, hockey, pretty much everything. In school I played baseball and soccer.
What part of your job is the most fun?
Taking batting practice from the coaches. We have a home run derby. I play Special Olympics softball. I want to keep my strength.
What advice would you give people about how to get their dream job?
Stay in the game. Just keep grinding.
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