Here, FanPrime’s Vikram Rajkumar provides his top tips that will give you the edge over other candidates.
It’s not just about getting a sports-related degree. It’s having core skills.
You’re not only competing with sports people, you could be competing with people who might have, for example, just gained a business degree but who have an interest in sport. So, it’s about keeping your technical abilities equal to any other market. Most of the jobs in sport, eventually, even if you’re working at a football club, have excel sheets, meetings, all the usual elements of a regular job.
Get in there and try to get as much experience as young as you can. First, it’s about understanding how your chosen industry works, and secondly, knowing whether this industry is for you or not. For a lot of people, when they get in, the reality of how the industry works and what they expected, is very different. And also, understanding which part of sport do you actually enjoy?
Networking is very important.
Go meet people, understand what’s happening, understand what’s available, and understand where jobs are available because they’re few and far between in sport.
And not just when you need a job. The mistake I see a lot of young students making, is they start talking to people in the industry the moment they need a job, and when people are busy. if I get someone saying “hey, listen, I’m this young student, I just want some help, some information”, I’m more inclined to do that than if someone asks for a job.
If someone comes and asks: “I want a job, here’s my CV”, the only time I’m going to reply is if their profile fits a role and I need someone immediately. The odds of you getting a reply are very low, and the odds of that trinity of timing just matching together is difficult. So, yes, go and meet people, speak to people – just for your own understanding of what’s happening.
Especially if you want to work in football clubs… the number of CV’s clubs get for a single role is absolutely insane. And they filter so much that maybe 80 or 90% of the CVS don’t even get opened. So how do you get your CV opened?
Put effort in going to events, and talks.
There are quite a few, especially in the UK now, including iSportConnect, Leaders in Sport. Some of them are quite expensive, but some have deals for students to attend. And I think it’s become easier now because all of them have a web version and webinar version.
If you can get to an event, can you make the effort to meet people?
Can you have one-on-one conversations? So many students go to events but don’t talk to people beyond their existing network. Go to events. The bigger events – I would suggest always try doing one a year. You can’t do everything. It is expensive. But find the ones which do student discounts, there are multiple smaller events as well that you can get into that don’t cost the earth. And if you’re a student, you can always write to them or you can get your university to write to them. They usually don’t mind students being there. It definitely helps them as well because they want more young people to be involved and then they know those young people are going to become professionals in the industry – and then can come into their events. I think that’s the main thing.
LinkedIn is great at times.
Look at what industry people are posting. Also, it doesn’t hurt to reach out to people and pick your brains. From my experience, when you’re a student, people are more inclined to help out than not.
Attend events that aren’t just about sport.
As an example… there’s a huge digital transformation expo in Olympia in London featuring the top people from Sky, from BT, from everywhere in the tech world. It has nothing to do with sport, but it’s free with the top people speaking and they have multiple exhibitions, and there are other sports clubs/organisations coming. There are people from the English FA coming, people from Sheffield United coming, people from eSports organisations coming there. So there are people from within sport attending and there are loads of others that are related to sport as well. But if you’re looking at working in sports technology, you have to understand technology as a whole. You can’t only understand sports technology.
You have to work hard and work smart.
Just working hard isn’t enough anymore, though I still think there’s no substitute for outworking people. You’re working in, or looking to work in, a high-performance environment where the standards are different. That might mean it’s not the greatest work/life balance when you’re younger, but you need to get through that phase and push through. I think that that’s what takes you through in the end [to where you want to be].