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No matter how much you plan, there are things that are not in your control, and there will always be something that goes awry. It is important to keep a level head, and problem solve efficiently.
Sport Event Coordinator
Former Raptors Dance Pak Member
No, I did not always know that I wanted to work in sports. In high school I was a dancer, and I loved physical activity, which led me to select Kinesiology and Health Sciences for my undergraduate degree.
In my first year of University I was exposed to the world of live sports through my dancing and instantly fell in love. I was performing as a cheerleader on the Toronto Raptors Dance Pak for two seasons. Being on the court in the midst of all the excitement really drove my inspiration. As part of the Game Operations team we worked very closely with the Game Director. I remember being 18 years old and thinking to myself “I want that job. What do I need to do to get there?”
From that point on, I directed every career decision towards finding a position in live sporting events. I decided to take a post-graduate degree in Sports Business Management, and focused every possible volunteer and internship opportunity on live events. Upon completing my degree, I began working as an event coordinator for Special Olympics Ontario, and have been there ever since.
My favourite thing about working in the sports industry is that it is fast-paced and ever-changing. I was never interested in a desk job, and sport gave me the opportunity to have a career in a dynamic field that is constantly evolving. No two days are the same. I am always doing and learning new things. I have had the opportunity to travel and meet amazing, like-minded individuals through sport, and am incredibly grateful for my experiences thus far.
My least favourite part of the industry is its highly competitive nature. There are a lot of people who want to work in sport, and few jobs. Not only does this make it challenging to break into the industry, but also to progress through it. I am the type of person who wants to see everyone win, but I caution you to be wary, as not everyone will return that sentiment. I was very lucky at Special Olympics Ontario to be surrounded by an amazing team of individuals who work together to succeed. Be sure to take this into consideration when selecting what area of sport you want to work in. It is incredibly important to find an organization that values and prioritizes the same things that you do.
Yes, life certainly can! Unfortunately, due to COVID-19 I, like many other individuals in the industry, was recently laid off. With an extreme lack of funding and no in-person events for the foreseeable future, maintaining full staff capacity was no longer feasible for the organization. Although the news was hard to digest at first, it came to no surprise. It is difficult to be an event coordinator in a world with no events!
This has allowed me the opportunity to take a step back and re-evaluate my career plans. Having worked in the industry for a few years, I can now determine what I value most in a job and in an organization. This will help me to determine where I would like my next move to be, and where my skills would be best suited. It gives me the time to work on developing new skills if that is required. I also now have the chance to network again, which can get difficult while working a full-time job. I have been given the chance to revisit old connections and put real effort into making new ones.
The number one quality is being able to adapt on the fly. You have no choice but to think quickly, as everything is time-sensitive in the event world. No matter how much you plan, there are things that are not in your control, and there will always be something that goes awry. It is important to keep a level head, and problem solve efficiently.
In the current landscape, my advice to those looking for work in the sports industry is to evaluate their skill set, in comparison to the positions that are available. Everything has gone digital, which is a trend that will likely not ever disappear. Businesses need individuals who have knowledge of various digital skills such as graphic design, video editing, content development, social media, digital marketing, and web design. These skills are extremely valuable, global pandemic or not. Don’t have these skills? What better time than now to learn?!
If you are finding it exceedingly difficult to find a job in the sports industry, I would urge you to not lose sight of your goals. The pandemic will not last forever, and eventually, regular work will resume. You should be able to prove that you have made good use of this time. If you are currently finding yourself unsuccessful in the sports industry, try and find a position in an alternative industry that has transferrable skills. You want to be able to market yourself effectively when the industry picks up speed again, and having transferrable skills will certainly make you a stronger candidate.
Cristina Doria’s story is a great example of being prepared for anything that comes your way. She is a seasoned professional, but like many, has found herself in an unexpected position amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. She really found the silver lining in the situation by allowing herself to use this time to her advantage. Her constant thirst to expand her knowledge and develop her skill set goes to show that learning doesn’t end at graduation.