Graduates & Students: Succeed in Sports Business

Published: 23 Jan 2018

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Entering any jobs market can be daunting for students and graduates, with a myriad of potential paths to pursue. The sports world is no different.

So what do you need to know and have in your armoury for taking the plunge from full-time studies to the wider working world?

At the Johan Cruyff Institute, with its headquarters in Barcelona, Núria Juan warns that entering a market can be “a slow and costly process” but argues that doesn’t make it a mission impossible.

The institute’s main guidelines for graduates entering the sporting dimension come in these easy-to-follow steps:

  1. Academic qualifications – Have a good base of general sport management education and specialise with more specific qualifications.
  2. Internships – Do as many as you can, thereby broadening your knowledge and gaining experience of the working world.
  3. Volunteering – Offer your help to as many sport events as you can for more practical experience be it a local fun run or a triathlon.
  4. CV – Make it functional with easily accessible information on no more than two pages, and don’t overload it. And write a cover letter designed to attract the potential employee.
  5. Keep up to date – Follow the ever-evolving sports market at every level.
  6. Road map – Make a rough outline of where you are and where you want to get to plus how you plan to go about getting there.

GlobalSportsJobs CEO Will Lloyd, meanwhile, advises people against thinking of the sports industry as the Holy Grail and instead says the key is to focus on your “functional skills”.

He advises: “Look at the new skills that are taking most industries by storm, and sport is no exception. Digital and data will be two skills that will continue to grow in the future.”

Grasp even the most trivial task

Every employee in the sports field has his or her own differing experience. Christian Fizia joined Sportcal initially on a one-year work placement scheme as part of his university degree, and then rejoined permanently after graduation. He has risen up to become a sponsorship analyst.

Having taken the path from studying to the sporting work place, his advice for graduates is predominantly four-fold:

  1. “When starting a new job, it is important that you display an eagerness to learn about the company from the get go, as well as the industry that you are working in.
  2. “Make an effort to interact with different departments to gain a better understanding of how the company functions. This will give you a clearer picture of the importance of each individual to the company.
  3. “As a junior employee, some tasks will seem trivial but you should apply yourself in the same way you would for any task, this dedication will not go unnoticed and the more enjoyable tasks will follow.
  4. “And during the early stages of your role, don’t be afraid to get involved in discussions and voice your opinions on matters within the sports industry.”

More than just a passion

The passion and eagerness of new recruits are embraced by a litany of businesses, among them data-driven sports marketing agency Two Circles.

For Alison Oliver, among its newer recruits as an analyst following a degree in economics, her No1 piece of advice for would-be employees is: “I just made sure [coming straight from university] that I had a background understanding of the sports industry and where the company had come from and where they’d been.”

As for lessons learned early in the workplace for those potentially following in her footsteps, she adds: “Passion will only get you so far. While you should always be as passionate as possible about sport you need to be able to do your day do day job so you need to make sure you cover all your bases.”

‘You hold the key’

INTERSPORT has 50 years of experience as a sports business, and Cristina Schneider of its human resources team believes the onus very much lies on the individual graduate or student scoping the work place.

She argues that “no one is responsible for your own development but you” and also that “they say successful people make their own luck...or rather opportunities”.

She adds: “Ultimately your development is an active choice you have to make. You will likely encounter different opportunities but what you do with them is up to you.”

In short, be proactive if you want to have success going from your studies to full-time employment, don’t be daunted and try to embrace as much advice and guidance as you can.


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