Four ways to land your dream job in sport

by frank-stuart
15AUG

You have a degree in sports business and you’ve found a job prospect that’s a great fit for you – but they’re looking for someone with experience. ACPE graduate Shane Merry says it’s a dilemma many graduates face.

“The biggest hurdle I’ve had in my career is that every job application talks about experience. How do you get that experience if nobody’s willing to give you a go?”

Now General Manager of the Bankstown District Amateur Football Association (BDAFA), Shane said internships and volunteering were the answer for him.

“In my first year at ACPE, I remember a lecturer saying it wasn’t just about the piece of paper you get at the end, it’s about who you know and what you’ve done. That’s when I decided to work part-time and study part-time.”

1. Put your hand up for experience

Shane believes if you’re willing to work hard, volunteering and internships are absolutely going to pay you back.

“These days, people have the attitude they don’t want to work for free. Don’t have that six-figure focus, because the reality is you’ve got to work your way up – and volunteering will really bump up your resume,” he said.

2. Be proactive and professional

When it comes to getting volunteer work, Shane advises looking at what a business needs and approaching them with a proposal.

“Tell them you want to do this project for them that will enhance their company,” he said.

“If they don’t have enough resources, time or staff, tell them you’ll run it for them. Then you’ll see doors open up.”

Last year, in his role as BDAFA General Manager, Shane was approached by an ACPE student with a proposal to run a new summer soccer program.

“This was a brand new thing for us. So I said to him, mate, do a good job, stamp your name on this – and he did it so well I gave him a job this year. Now he’s studying and working part-time like I did.”

Shane said having gone down the work experience path makes him want to help others.

“I’m all about guiding people through their career,” he said. “If they’re willing to do the work, I’m more than happy to help them get past that stigma of no experience.”

3. Focus on making a difference

Shane said sport presents opportunities to make a difference – whether you’re in a paid or voluntary role.  He recently worked on an inaugural six-week BDAFA soccer program for special needs children, which kicked off in June this year.

“We had 44 kids from local schools doing the program – some had never kicked a football, some might not leave the classroom most of the time,” he said.

“I got sponsors on board, the council put some money into it, and now the schools are coming back asking for it to be a permanent thing, included in their curriculum.”

“For me, it’s about our association being seen in a different light. It’s not just about the elite or the competitive side, but doing something for a different part of the community.”

4. Look outside the popular sports

It’s easy to become fixated on getting work in the high-profile sports and to miss other opportunities along the way.

“My advice is to look outside the big sports to the up and coming ones, like BMX which is now an Olympic sport.”

He also advises not to expect a straight path to where you want to be. He started refereeing rugby league at the age of 15 and, as an ACPE student, worked part-time in various roles including for Tennis Australia. Today he’s immersed in the world of soccer.

“I absolutely love football – and now I’ve found a home,” he said. “This could be your story.”

Shane Merry

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