The Best Ways to Build Experience Within the Sports Industry

Article written by Saam Momen, founder of The Sports Executive Path. 

One of the biggest challenges for any recent graduate when it comes to finding s job is that many positions ask candidates to have a minimum level of experience in the industry. For those that want to get started in their career, it can be incredibly disheartening to see entry-level positions requesting at least a year of experience. This is truer than ever in the sports industry, where there’s a high level of competition for any job.

If you want to get started in sports, no matter what area you hope to work in, gaining experience is vital, it seems. Candidates are often asked to have some level of experience, but even when they aren’t, having experience will help candidates to set themselves apart from the others who apply. As a result, you’ll want to get some experience of working in sports either during or directly after your education.

Why Is Experience Important to Employers?

Around two-thirds of hiring managers look for candidates with experience as it helps to show that the person they’re hiring is prepared for work and has some basic understanding of the role and what it involves. The vast majority of jobs include training and orientation, but candidates are usually required to understand the basics as this makes them much easier to train.

Not only is experience important to employers, but it’s also important to you. Having experience will help you to understand a job better and make it easier for you to work out whether the role is right for you or not. A lot of people end up in jobs they dislike because they didn’t have prior experience and didn’t fully understand what responsibilities the job involved.

Finding Experience

For many people, finding experience in the sports industry is difficult. There aren’t many employers willing to hire inexperienced candidates, and as such, people are often unsure of how to go about building their experience and starting their career. However, there are possible solutions to this problem. A lot of people gain their first experience working in the industry through internships or volunteering.


An internship is a short form of work experience that give students or recent graduates valuable insights into the role they want. A lot of organisations in the sports industry offer internships, and they’re an excellent way to build experience when you’re first starting out in your career. They can last from anything between a few weeks and a year, with people choosing to take their internships over a summer or completing them during a gap year from their studies. Because they’re a great way to learn industry-specific skills and knowledge, competition for internships can often be high. It’s a good idea to apply early and to apply to as many internships as you can to ensure you’re able to get a place.


Volunteering is one of the easiest and most popular ways to gain experience in the sports industry. Many youth and local sports teams rely on the work of volunteers. As a result, there are loads of positions available throughout the year. No matter what area of the sports industry you’d like to work in, volunteering can help give you a good foundation of skills and knowledge of how sports organisations work. While you’ll be volunteering at amateur clubs, the setup and organisation often run in a similar way to the professional clubs you’ll be applying to work at later in your career. Volunteering is an excellent way to gain skills and improve your CV to help stand out against other candidates when it comes to applying for jobs.

Volunteering and internships are the two most popular ways to gain experience and learn real-world skills before applying to jobs. However, they’re not the only ways to do it. Other ways to gain experience include:


Some degrees and courses offer an industry placement, where students have the opportunity to complete a year of work in their field. Often, universities will be paired with specific sports organisations, and students can choose from a number of roles. In other cases, you may be able to choose your own placement at a company you’d like to work for. These placements years are often paid, setting them apart from volunteering and most internships. While they offer more advantages than most other methods of building experience, they’re also harder to find. In most cases, you’ll need to take a specific university degree that offers a year in industry as part of the course.

Starting Your Own Enterprise

While this method is a lot more difficult than the others, it can also be far more rewarding. If you’re looking to get into sports business, starting your own sports industry-specific enterprise is one of the best ways to gain experience. Whether you have an idea for how technology can be used to improve sports, want to start your own talent agency or are working on a sports media company, you can build an enterprise and lots of experience in doing so. It doesn’t matter if your enterprise isn’t particularly successful, as long as you learn a lot about the business and are able to explain why you didn’t find success. Potential employers will see your enterprise as showing a lot of initiative, and this can really set you apart from other candidates.

Building experience is one of the most difficult parts of starting your career in sports. Not many organisations will be willing to take a chance of someone who hasn’t already proved themselves in the industry, so a lot of recent graduates are often unsure of how to proceed. Luckily, there are lots of ways that you can learn more about the field you want to work in, while also helping to improve your credentials to potential employers. Gaining experience doesn’t have to be difficult, and it’s beneficial to both you and your career.

This article was originally posted at The Sports Executive Path's blog. To know more about The Sports Executive Path, and to become a member with a special rate, click here.