Breaking into the Sponsorship Industry
I had a drink with two interns this week – one who had just secured an internship with Slingshot and the other, someone who desperately wanted to intern at Slingshot and even offered to work on the weekends to beat out the other competition. Both evenings were relatively the same – a history on their experience outside of university, their difficulties in trying to gain credibility within the industry, and of course, the ‘chicken or the egg’ scenario – needing experience to get a job, but needing a job to get experience.
Ironically enough, I applied to a number of sponsorship agencies in the industry before I started Slingshot Sponsorship. But alas, to no avail.. Not even a phone call. Not even an email reply acknowledging that I had applied. And I had experience in sponsorship. Maybe not the typical experience you’d see – much of my sponsorship experience was pieced around commercial marketing rather than sports sponsorship – but experience all the same.
Fortunately for me, my lack of the typical sponsorship agency experience has given me the opportunity to view the sponsorship model in a different light, which has been our key USP within the agency. What is more, my past experience has taught me first-hand how difficult it really is for people trying to enter the sponsorship industry.
I was recently at a sponsorship conference where some of the debate centred on the sponsorship industry not attracting the best people – which I don’t agree with. I believe the problem lies with the people hiring, rather than the people applying. We should be focussing our attention on who we hire rather than who we attract. Having worked within direct marketing (mail, email, data, etc) I know first-hand how difficult it is to attract graduates to these industries. By comparison, sponsorship is an extremely sexy industry. Although it may not have the Mad Men appeal of advertising, it does have all the job perks (backstage pass anyone?). And sport always is an attraction.
The onus I feel is on the hirers to think outside the box. Take a chance. You never know, someone might just surprise you. I know I did.
Jackie Fast is Managing Director at London-based sponsorship agency, Slingshot Sponsorship. Jackie offers running commentary on the Slingshot Sponsorship blog, and allows us to republish here when the subject fits.