Sports Industry presents to Western Students

Some of our Western Sydney University alumni and industry partners offered their advice to our students on how to start out in their careers in sport. Presenters at these sessions included - Michael Bassan, Community Manager - Parramatta Eels, Aaron Warburton – Commercial Manager – Bulldogs, Rebecca Marshall – Sports Relationship Manager – Western, Brooke Bowne – Corporate Partnerships Executive – WSW, Sarah Shehata – Sports Program Manager – South West Sydney Academy of Sport,
Tyrone Collins – Elite Player Development & Pathways Manager – Wests Tigers

Please see the key take outs below:

The need to volunteer

  • Volunteering is often the first step to securing a full-time role in sport; it can lead to casual / part-time employment, and then a full-time role.
  • Volunteering also looks good on a résumé, shows a willingness to put something back into sport, and gives those starting out in the industry valuable experience.
  • Many employers look for evidence of volunteering to show commitment to working in sport and to set individuals apart from the other candidates.

The importance of networking

  • Sport can be a very 'small' industry where many people know each other. You should find out who knows whom and how they may be able to make introductions for you. When attending a game or a venue talk to the staff working there, ask them how they got their roles and what it entails.
  • Join LinkedIn and connect with people who work in the role that you want to do, or sit under the role you want to do. Consider asking to meet with them to find out about their role or the organisation where they work.
  • When you meet someone who works in the industry follow it up with a contact request or connect via social media.
  • Never burn your bridges, leave organisations on good terms and stay in touch with former colleagues, as you never know where they will move.

Professional Development

  • The industry is always changing and evolving and so you need to keep learning. A postgraduate qualification may be needed to stay ahead of current graduates.
  • Spend time working overseas as sporting organisations in other countries may be ahead of the game and experience in a different sector looks very impressive on your résumé - the US was highlighted as a potential destination for Australian students.
  • Be open-minded and consider working in a different sport or for a government, sports councils, or institutes of sport. The skills you gain in these areas can provide you with valuable insights for your sport of choice. You may even come to like a different sport!
  • If you have a part-time job that is not in sport, quit it now and get a role in sport, even if this is a voluntary role or a casual position." When you are starting out in the industry you need to gain experience in the sector and if you can find part-time work in a sport setting this will be more beneficial than working in McDonalds or Woolworths.
  • Take additional qualifications where you can, qualify as a coach or a referee, or get a first-aid qualification or minibus drivers license.

Ensuring that you have a good work-life balance

  • Roles in sport are often not well paid and the hours can be long and unsociable. You work in the industry because you love sport and as a result are likely to put up with these factors. However, it is important that you maintain a healthy work-life balance.
  • Working for local or state government has good benefits as the pay is often higher and hours are typically less.

Developing communication skills

  • Good communication skills are vital.
  • Sports roles are people roles and you will interact with employees, stakeholders, fans, and the general public. Get used to others wanting to talk to you about your role if you work for a professional team – it is exciting and glamorous to them.

Opportunities through Western Sydney University to progress your career in the Sports Industry

  • The University has partnerships with all the key teams in Western Sydney; including Western Sydney Wanderers, Greater Western Sydney GIANTS, Bulldogs and Parramatta Eels.
  • The University has a student sports ambassador group that students can join, the group meets several times per year with all of the University's sports partners to workshop what students would like to see in regards to sport at University. By being part of this group students receive access to tickets, merchandise and membership offers.
  • The University offers opportunities to students to volunteer in programs run by sports partners and you can also opt to be a Peer Mentor to NRL players through the Graduates of League program.
  • Internships are regularly sent to students (via email) to work within the sports industry.
  • The University's website (westernsydney.edu.au/sports) and our Sport Alumni @ Western Sydney University LinkedIn group are good resources to stay connected to opportunities.