What it takes to work at the Olympics


It is many people's dream to work at the Olympics and have the fruits of their labours seen by hundreds of millions of people across the world. For most, though, that dream remains unfulfilled. But many successful bidders, pitchers and interviewees have got there through self-belief, tenacity and a passion for sport, business and/or the arts.

Thousands of new jobs and training opportunities were created around Rio 2016 with a workforce of 90,000 needed. An additional 16,000 staff positions were created just to service 70 new hotels and apartments.

Apart from the obvious roles filled by athletes, officials and coaches there is a diverse range of opportunities from creative jobs in media, technology and design, to marketing, merchandising, planning, managing operations and ticketing, facilities, IT systems and many more. In Rio, there were many vacancies for translators and teachers in the one million English lessons received by 50,000 local volunteers and taxi drivers.

Companies bid for contracts in the areas of human resources, sports equipment, retail, artistic performance, construction, security and catering.

There are paid jobs selecting and working with the 70,000 volunteers, especially if you are a fluent English speaker.

Add to the mix the 20,000 members of the media attending the Games themselves and those employed by contractors, and the opportunities are huge.

For a chance to be there, you need more than just the essentials for any job: the perfectly pitched CV, relevant skills and experience. You also need passion and determination, love of a challenge and the ability to collaborate with others, either in a small team or a cast of thousands.

A good example of all these qualities was seen in the creation of the Rio 2016 Olympic logo and font when two firms – one in Brazil, Tatil Design, and one in the UK, Dalton Maag – were thrown together.

Frederico Gelli of Tatil Design admits he almost gave up when he heard 138 other agencies were competing to bid for the logo design. But he was determined and collaborated with his own team before coming up with the winning logo. He was inspired by the mountains of Brazil and an ancient symbol, which fuelled his passion for the project.

It was 18 months later that Fabio Haag of Dalton Maag met the challenge to create a font replicating the letters in the logo. He and his six-strong team drafted many versions until they settled on the final design.

Other opportunities in the creative sector at Rio 2016 included an artists-in-residence programme for a writer, artist and digital talent.

Much has been written about the legacy of the Olympic Games and this extends to learning skills for the future and the generation of a vast amount of employment.

People who worked on the Olympic Park and the Athletes’ Village at London 2012, for example, were entered into apprenticeship schemes for construction and engineering. This included the 2012 Women into Construction Project.

These opportunities at the Games have led to sustainable jobs and careers far outliving the two weeks of the sporting event itself.

Upcoming events following Rio include the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympics, Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics, Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) Careers oversees all the activities.

Ahead of Tokyo 2020, the UK and Japan are already working together on introducing UK companies that contributed to London 2012 to share lessons learned. This is resulting in business opportunities for UK firms, partnerships and ultimately jobs.

Contractors who win bids for projects at both the Olympic and Paralympic Games will have recruitment plans in place long before the event itself, so it is never too early to pursue your dream.

This article was written by the GlobalSportsJobs Insight team.

To take a look back at the Rio Olympics and see how the diverse skills of athletes in various disciplines apply to different areas of business, click here.

If you've been inspired by this article, view the latest live vacancies at the Paralympic Games, or create an account today and stay up to date with all the latest industry knowledge, events and jobs in sport.

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