Tips on how to get a sports stadium internship

Adelaide Oval

For many sports management students, there’s no place more exciting to be than at a stadium. The energy of a match day and the sound of the crowds: if you love sports, getting to spend your working days in a stadium environment is a dream come true.

For many in the sports industry, the first step to making that dream a reality is getting an internship at a club, stadium or other professional sports venue. Getting your first glimpse behind the scenes of your favourite sports provides an unforgettable learning experience.

Why Antonio chose to study Sports Management

Antonio Griffin is one sports management student at Torrens University Australia who recently got to have that incredible experience.

Antonio completed a Stadium Operations Internship at Adelaide Oval for the The Adelaide Oval Stadium Management Authority (AOSMA). A lifelong soccer fan, Antonio chose to study a Sports Management degree, so he could bring his passion for sport into his career.

“As a kid I loved playing soccer and I took the sport really seriously,” Antonio explained.

“My favourite teams were Manchester United, Inter Milan and Adelaide United. However, school work also started becoming serious to me in year 11 when I knew that I wasn’t going to make a career as a professional player.

I started studying a subject called business enterprise in year 12, and I really found it interesting and enjoyed it. The Bachelor of Business (Sports Management) course allows me to do both, so I can work within an industry I have passion and love for.”

With just one year to go on his Bachelor of Business (Sports Management), Antonio felt that now was the right time to get out and gain some experience in the sports business before he graduates.

Luckily for Antonio, his Success Coach at Torrens University was on the lookout for opportunities to help him get a foot in the door.

“I was informed by Larissa, a staff member at Torrens University about the internship. She recommended applying for it and thankfully I listened to her, because I could not have asked for a better place to do my placement. Adelaide Oval is one of the best stadiums in the world with some of the best facilities,” Antonio said.

The Torrens University team helped Antonio along every step of the way; assisting him with writing his resume, checking in with him during the application process, and coaching him on how to dress and speak for the interview.

Antonio's interview with Adelaide Oval

When the day of the interview with , General Manager of Venue Operations came around, Antonio was ready for it.

“I was interviewed by James at the coffee store at the front of the south gate at Adelaide Oval. I was asked questions about my schedule, what my traits were, what I knew about Adelaide Oval and why I would be the right person selected for the internship,” said Antonio.

James Niederer explains what he was looking for when he interviewed Antonio, and what Adelaide Oval managers look for when they hire a new intern:

“We’re looking for someone with a positive attitude, can-do attitude, both towards work but also towards their own professional development.

Teachability is an important skill to have because when people commence in new roles, there is always a lot to learn and if they are prepared to listen and implement the teachings they have been given then this will stand not only themselves, but the organisation in good stead.

Punctuality and presentation are also important as this reflects both on the person and the organisation they are representing.”

Antonio's internship experience as a Stadium Operations intern

Antonio was thrilled to find out his application for the Stadium Operations Internship was a success, and he has jumped headfirst into his new role.

“I worked within the Operations team at Adelaide Oval,” Antonio explained. “I was helping the team set up for gameday such as setting up bollards and reserved seating arrangements. I am also helping out on gameday such as helping with Auskick at half-time and with ticketing roles.”

James Niederer was Antonio’s manager and mentor. According to him, Antonio has turned out to be the perfect candidate for the intern role.

“Antonio has displayed all the attributes we look for in an intern. He has displayed a high level of communication with the team at a variety of levels and has undertaken several new tasks with great enthusiasm.

He has the ability to listen when given a new task and is not afraid to ask questions when required to understand his role. The experience of having Antonio as an intern has been a positive one, both for the operations team, but I also feel for Antonio as well,” James explained.

The challenges of a Sports Management intern

For Antonio, his first chance at real-world working experience in stadium operations has been a steep learning curve and not without its challenges.

However, in an industry run on high-stakes events with thousands of attendees showing up for games, learning how to work under pressure is an important part of your education.

“I have learnt so much within this internship, such as self-initiative and how to remain calm under pressure, because gameday can be hectic and there is always work to do,” Antonio explained.

“The tasks I first found the most challenging were some of the roles on gameday, as it is such a big facility. When fans came to the stadium to watch the football and asked me questions about where to go I sometimes didn’t know.

Another challenge was dealing with complaints about their tickets not working; I would get stressed and not know what to say. But over time I have been learning how to stay calm under pressure and direct the fans to the right places.”

As his mentor, James Niederer has found seeing Antonio rise to these challenges a uniquely rewarding experience.

“Watching Antonio develop his skills in assisting in game day set up and during matchday has been rewarding. Antonio had no prior professional experience in how a venue would be run on matchday and how it would be set up, but he has developed his knowledge base and is a popular member of the operations team.

Antonio has a keen interest in sport and has indicated he would like to work in this field, so giving him an opportunity to develop his skills in this area has also been rewarding,” James explained.

Overall, Antonio is extremely happy and grateful to have had this Adelaide Oval internship experience.

It’s given him the first taste of what working in the industry will be like, and he’s looking forward to more when he graduates.

“I could not have asked for a better practical experience to be involved with,” said Antonio. “Adelaide Oval is one of the most professional workplaces a Sports Management student could work at, and so having experience working there has helped me develop my professional standard of work.

After my internship, I definitely want to work in a similar role because now I feel comfortable within the operations role I have worked in. Working within a sporting club or stadium would be ideal.”

What tips and advice does Antonio have for other students seeking internship opportunities in the field of Sports Management?

“The advice I would give is to not be nervous. I was very nervous when starting out, but the majority of employees and managers understand that you are new and you’re going to start shaky.

Never be scared to ask questions because that is a part of learning and enjoy it, because there are people who would love to be in the position you are in. This also has been a very humbling experience.”

As for James, he’s been happy to have Antonio on board and is certain there’ll be more opportunities for interns soon.

James Niederer offers this advice to aspiring sports managers: it’s all about the attitude.

“Based on the experience with Antonio I would be open to taking on future interns. If they could bring a similar can-do, positive attitude to any workplace they enter, this will go a long way to them integrating into a team and learning the necessary skills to perform their role.”

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