My experience at the University of Warwick has been defined through my participation with the Netball Club. We all know that there are plenty of benefits to joining a sports club or society whilst at university. I believe that netball has enabled me to develop many core competencies that really strengthened my application when I applied for a 3-month internship at Enterprise Rent-A-Car.
However, many sports clubs and societies are often heavily reliant on sponsorship. Without external support from businesses, it would be impossible to meet the demands of running a large sports club or society.
As publicity secretary for the University of Warwick Women’s Netball club, my responsibility was to secure the club sponsorship for the year. This is becoming an ever-challenging task, with many companies tightening budgets. Furthermore you are not only competing for sponsorship within your university but also against every other netball, football or rugby club at other universities.
In this blog post I hope to pass on a few tips of how societies can engage with employers, how graduate employers can benefit from sponsoring a society and how to create that all-important sales pitch.
Students who are involved with societies and sports clubs often possess many core competencies that employers look for in prospective employees. You are given opportunities to develop your leadership and communication skills as well as countless examples of when teamwork has helped overcome conflict or a challenge. By sponsoring a sports club or society, employers are likely to get a higher caliber of students applying to their graduate schemes.
Every year businesses can gain publicity by having their logos featuring on sports kit/bags and merchandise. At a campus university like Warwick this means students become very familiar with the brands that they see on a daily basis. This leads to more students following their curiosity by visiting the company website and applying to graduate and placement opportunities.
Many businesses recruit campus brand ambassadors to represent their company at university. Although this has proved a successful method of campus recruitment, those employers that choose to sponsor a society gain access to often 100 or 200 students who become their ambassadors. This means more people attend careers events, serve as information points to other students and create brand awareness by wearing their logo (which sounds like a much better deal).
In the first couple weeks of term, graduate employers descend onto campus for a season of careers fairs. Whilst these are a great opportunity to meet employers, they are often overcrowded and feel like a boiler room. As part of our sponsorship contracts with Credit Suisse and Enterprise, we hosted exclusive networking evenings on campus. Each company brought a selection of speakers to share their experiences and students and recruiters can have quality conversations. This brings two advantages: students can gain a unique insight into the company and the application process and companies can cherry-pick promising candidates.
Whether this is a BUCS league promotion, a varsity win or a volunteering project, your successes as a club or society only reflect positively onto your sponsors. Many companies like to be associated with societies that echo their own values of enriching communities. For example our netball in schools programme and gifted and talented days for primary school children have often set the netball club apart from other sponsorship bids. In your pitch make sure you sell all the positives that your society brings within and beyond campus.
A huge factor in being able to secure sponsorship is your proposal. This is often the only thing companies will look at when deciding their budgets. Therefore don’t drown employers with a 30 page leaflet describing your club successes, how many trophies you have won and why your club is the best the university has to offer. The key to a successful proposal is a concise argument, which gives a well-rounded view of your club/society. Much like a CV, employers are looking for different examples of how you have demonstrated their core competencies and how you have grown beyond a competitive sports club.
Sponsoring a club or society is all about partnership. It is key to keep that relationship alive throughout the year. Many societies fail to re-secure sponsorship as they treat the monetary transaction as a one off event and don’t follow through with the benefits that they can provide for their sponsor. This can be overcome by holding events such as the mixer evening, publishing regular blog posts or career updates and sending updated emails or newsletters to sponsors to let them know what you have achieved.
You will probably be unaware how much being an active member of a society will aid your application and CV when applying to companies. At the interviews and assessment centre I was able to complement my academic experiences with numerous examples of how I demonstrated leadership, teamwork, time management, and communication. Take a moment to think through your experiences, those competency questions will be easier to answer than you think.
Not many people realise how valuable being part of a society at university can be. The team at Enterprise has similar qualities to your sports team, so if you or your teammates are looking for an exciting challenge after university then apply for our graduate management trainee programme.
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