Photo credit: Adam Douglas
Volunteer Contributor – Adam Douglas
For most university students, the search for a summer job begins in the first months of the new year. However, when most of Canada went into lockdown in March 2020, that was largely put on hold.
The sports industry is one of the most affected sectors. Today, students graduating from sports management programs face a hyper-competitive job market, making it increasingly difficult to find entry-level positions. Due to the impact of the pandemic, many students have been forced to get creative in finding ways to gain hands-on experience.
In Halifax, Nova Scotia, students at St. Francis Xavier University have felt the brunt of the tight job market in the sports industry. They felt a growing need for a solution to broaden and develop their skills to help them stand out from the fierce competition. This fear of the post-pandemic job market led to the founding of the St. Francis Xavier Sport Management and Marketing Society.
Duncan Lovell, the company’s founder, looked forward to working in a marketing department for a company in the sports industry. However, when COVID-19 hit, his post was canceled and he felt discouraged.
“You’ve got your hopes up, I was going to have a great job and I was going to work with great people and knowing it was so close and it’s now been cut, it hurts,” Lovell said.
The situation, while difficult to overcome, led Lovell to establish the St. Francis Xavier Sport Management and Marketing Society to help students hone their skills to separate themselves from other applicants.
“This project was a great way to get into the industry and get jobs in the industry as well,” Lovell added.
Since its inception, the society has hosted a series of online events, engaging both members and students of St. Francis Xavier University.
“We’ve learned through COVID-19 how to present a sport remotely,” Lovell said. “You really grab people’s attention even if they can’t be there in person. It can only go up from here.
Similar sentiments are shared with students across Canada, as graduates from Ontario universities face similar employment situations. This tension has led to the emerging appreciation of sports business associations (SBAs), specifically the events they organize for students.
SBAs are student-run college clubs that provide students with the opportunity to network with sports industry professionals and gain experience through the planning and marketing of intra-college events.
Brock University’s Sport Business Association (BSBA), established in 2016, has been particularly active; organize events such as virtual networking forums, educational workshops and other virtual events designed to prepare members and students in attendance for careers in the sports industry. Jadon Bernatsky and Kaz Alguire, president and vice president of the BSBA this year, took advantage of the circumstances of the pandemic to focus on better harmony.
“My online and digital skills have improved. I took a LinkedIn Photoshop learning course to develop my graphic design abilities,” Alguire said.
Self-improvement and taking steps to improve is a common trait across the association.
Recognizing the current issues facing SBA students across the country, Bernatsky, along with his vice president and representatives from the McMaster Sport Business Association, founded the University Sport Business Association (USBA). Now students at 13 SBAs across Canada can connect and collaborate more easily, combine their resources, and organize events that help their members and other students learn and develop new skills.
Late last year, students at Brock University and Ryerson University had the chance to connect through a collaborative club event that helped raise money for charity.
“This event was exactly why USBA was founded in the first place,” Bernatsky said, while commenting on the success of the event.
USBA’s future plans include engaging more students and motivating them to develop SBAs at Western Canadian universities, where none currently exist. All of this will provide students with experiences that will allow them to succeed in the sports industry when things return to normal.
Although USBA is still in its infancy, it has already become a vibrant community where ideas are shared and collaboration is valued, so that everyone can benefit.
The future of the sports industry after the pandemic is largely unknown, although at least one thing has been made clear: thriving communities like these are an effective way for students to learn from and support each other. help in their professional development after completing their studies. .