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Navigating The Sports Industry as a 2022 Graduate

Updated: Jun 6, 2023

Navigating The Sports Industry as a 2022 Graduate 5

If you’d have told me 6 months ago that I would be working within one of the top Sports Marketing agencies in the UK, I would have probably laughed in disbelief.

Not disbelief in my ability, but disbelief that as a graduate in this current climate I’d have landed on my feet. Now don’t get me wrong, this was no close your eyes, make a wish and watch it come true moment (wouldn’t that be nice).

It was a process of trying to balance completing a degree, working part-time, and searching tirelessly for my chance to break into the sports industry (not to mention still being fully immersed in the university lifestyle).

For three years I have – just about – found the balance of managing Uni life, while also being slightly naïve to the realities of exiting university life and being catapulted into the world of full-time employment.

So, what would I tell Annie 6 months ago as she completes her degree in Sports Business Management?

Firstly, well done.

Simple I know, but as one of the many cohorts that have had to navigate university through a global pandemic, I feel a pat on the back is due for all of us.

Secondly, not to panic.

Easier said than done, I agree, but I would remind myself that Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither is your career. With that said, here are my actionable tips that I would give to other graduates looking to break into the sports industry.

1: Get as much experience under your belt as possible I did by turning my hobby of photography into a side hustle while completing my degree. I made it my aim to cover as many styles of photography as possible., from sport through to maternity sessions and equine shoots I really covered it all; this taught me how to position myself in multiple markets and adapt to selling to different demographics. Take every opportunity to add as many strings to your bow as possible, any opportunity where you can draw experience that will add value to your dream role is worth your time.

Build up your skill set to success in the sports industry

2: Find your drive. Why do you want to enter the sports industry? Where do you see yourself being able to contribute the most? What are the qualities in your ‘dream role’ that are going to inspire you to get up every day and give 100%? For me, that comes from working with brands to create meaningful partnerships that deliver tangible results; not to mention being able to work across multiple sports at a time.

3: Build your network and learn how to market yourself. While to an extent employers buy into your experience and qualifications, they also buy into who you are as a person and how this is reflected in the people around you. Get connecting to people in the industry, follow them on LinkedIn and start to learn how people in the industry interact and the content they engage with the most. Network, network, network, get yourself to any relevant event or online group you can gain access to; start to build relationships without the pretence of capitalising on them immediately. Play the long game. Be yourself, people connect with people not robots. You are your personal brand, make sure to optimise the way you market yourself by being consistent and accountable in showing up and delivering on your promises.

An insight into working within a top sports marketing agency.

The Role:

As Brand Partnerships and Marketing Executive, my role is to build relationships with brands and place them into sports partnerships while also assisting the Sporting Group International marketing functions.

The Best Bit’s:

Undoubtedly my favourite bits have been getting out on the road to meet with clients and rights holders. It’s been so insightful being part of the process from both the side of the brand and the rights holder; I feel like being in an agency environment has already given me potential scope to grow in my position further than I ever imagined.

A highlight has got to have been visiting Bolton Wanderers FC and seeing our active stadium naming rights campaign come to life; it has been so rewarding to follow the brand side process so far.

Home of Bolton Wanderers FC

The Reality’s:

Boy did I under-estimate the reality of adjusting to a new routine. University life is a whole different ball game, getting used to finding the balance between giving my all to my job while balancing my social life, personal life and 8 hours sleep has

been a learning curve to say the least. A learning curve that has allowed me to grow as a person and feel proud of putting in the effort to maintaining each aspect of my life.

Top tip: caffeine.

The Goals:

To continue to be a student, just in a new environment, and learn as much as I possibly can so that I can give the most back to my role and continue to work with incredible brands in finding their ideal sport partnership.

The Main Take-away’s:

  • Never stop being a student, learn from every opportunity you can.

  • Find your passion and follow it.

  • Network, Network, Network.

  • Coffee.

Annie Taplin is a Brand Partnerships and Marketing Executive at Sporting Group International

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