The British Olympic Association (BOA), UK Sport and the British Paralympic Association today joined with Adecco, DKH Legacy Trust and the English Institute of Sport to deliver the 2013 Athlete Career Fair at the Madejski Stadium in Reading.
Attended by approximately 150 current and retired athletes, the event was held to offer support for their careers outside, during or after competition.
The event offered a range of support and advice to athletes presented in the style of a traditional career fair run alongside a number of other services brought together by partners involved.
Commented Sarah Gosling (nee Webb), double Olympic Sailing Gold medallist:
“Everyone talks about the transition period from athlete to ‘grown-up’, and it’s actually a really hard journey. It's taken me three years to decide what I want to try and do, so it’s critically important that athletes have such a great opportunity like this to get help if they want to retire now and where they want to go.
“The exhibitors here today have some fantastic roles available in their organisations which is really encouraging. As athletes our skills are so transferable - as an Olympic athlete you are so driven to get on with the task in hand, so having that attitude in a work environment is incredible.”
Split into three distinct zones – Employer, Discovery and Support - the fair contained businesses and organisations interested in athletes as potential employees, including exhibitors such as the Intercontinental Hotel Group, EDF, Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games, British Gas and Red Bull.
Commented Matthew Leopold, Brand Manager - Sponsorship at British Gas:
"It has been fantastic, and I don't think the athletes realise how much they have to offer. We've had a number of athletes enquire about part-time roles with us which could help them to support their training, and others interested in graduate opportunities. The athletes we have met today are genuinely interested in having a chat with us about future opportunities in our business, which is brilliant."
The Discovery zone enabled athletes to find out more about particular sectors of personal interest to them, where representatives in this field were hand to give an overview of the industry they represent, including the Army, teaching and broadcasting, with the BBC and Channel 4 in attendance.
Said Ron Chakraborty, Executive Lead of Major Events at the BBC:
"We have had a variety of Olympic and Paralympic athletes enquire about how to get into broadcasting after competition, be it either reporting, commentating or behind the camera. By using our experience and contacts we have been able to provide advice on where to go next. Athletes can offer fantastic value to broadcast media, especially with their insight an expertise in their sport. It used to be broadcasters who just did sport, but there more former athletes who are now top class broadcasters, and it would be absolutely brilliant if we could search out the next one here today, or at least set them on their way. Team GB's and ParalympicsGB success at London 2012 has given us so many great athletes for this industry and there are so many different routes they can take, so we hope we can give them as much advice as possible."
Athletes were also able to obtain guidance and advice on a range of specific issues in the Support zone including CV advice and feedback, financial planning and entrepreneurial support. Workshops also took place to assist attendees with writing a CV, interview techniques and networking, which were provided by the English Institute of Sport’s Performance Lifestyle team.
Sophie Christiansen, multiple Paralympic Equestrian Gold medallist said:
“I graduated with a first class masters degree in maths in 2011 and in the time immediately following that I was only thinking about London 2012, so now I want to know what I can do with my degree. I want to maintain a balance between training and life outside of my sport, so it was important for me to have a look at what options are out there, as I don't want to retire just yet!
“There's been a lot for me to think about with the contacts I've made, so it’s down to me now to think about how much time I want to spend in training and how much in employment. I don't just want to use my degree as my skills as an athlete are the skills that are so important in business, and we as athletes have so much to offer.”
Athletes offer a wide range of transferable skills such as excellent interpersonal and communication skills, the ability to perform under pressure and show the determination and dedication to succeed in every walk of life.
Georgina Harland, Athens 2004 Olympic Bronze medallist and BOA Sports Engagement Manager explained:
“We are really pleased with the attendance at today’s event. Sign up started in May 2012 but the footfall has been really positive and the exhibitors have had some great feedback.
“During an athlete’s full-time career you learn so many lessons and so many life skills that you don’t know you have. Things like organisational skills, time management and communication skills, and obviously the drive and commitment to deliver on any given timeline. As a former athlete I assumed all people have those skills, as in sport you are surrounded by passionate and driven people all the time. But not everyone has those skills so they are a very, very strong attributes that athletes can undoubtedly take into any work they do.”
Athletes who attended the event included aspiring full-time athletes who may need flexible part-time work opportunities, full-time athletes keen to explore future career ideas and transition athletes, who will be leaving their World Class Programme and are looking to develop a career after sport.
Over 40 exhibitors who value the transferrable skills elite athletes have to offer presented at the event and took advantage of the opportunity to meet and discuss possible employment opportunities available within their organisations.
Commented Marcus Morley, Recruitment Manager at Freshfields:
"It’s been a really successful event, and it has allowed us to gauge interest from athletes who are interested in potentially working for a law firm. We were the official law provider for the Olympic Games to this event has been helpful in assisting us continue our legacy and driving our brand, whilst also expressing that we don't just hire individuals with legal backgrounds. Athletes all have the same mindset; they are incredibly hungry and driven and have all the attributes to be successful in a law environment."
Added Euan McNair, Recruitment Manager at Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games:
"What athletes can bring to us is knowledge of how large scale sporting events work from an athlete point of view. We are athlete centred and sport focused so the input from athletes and sharing their experiences of large events and how they work can really help us. To attend a careers event that is so focused around athletes has been great, and we've had a big number of athletes who are interested on the roles we have coming up in the future, as we are looking to increase our workforce by almost double by the end of 2013."