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Earning his three stripes with adidas

When 21 year old master’s student Stephen Cleary sat down to think about internships, little did he know that his idea would bag him his dream job at adidas. Scroll talked to Stephen to find out how he sailed into his dream career.

 

So how did you get your dream job straight from university?

During my master’s course I came up with an idea to help my case in landing an internship. I knew the direction I wanted to go in was social media for the sport industry, so I combined my set of skills to create ‘The #StevesJob Internship Campaign’. With my own campaign hashtag, blog and Youtube videos, hosting all three together on my own website, I eventually got the attention of my ‘soon to be’ internship mentor from the adidas Football Global Brand Marketing Team.

After some emails and discussions on the phone I was offered a 6 month internship, based in the Amsterdam office. After working hard and trying my best to impress, I was asked to stay full-time, which I obviously jumped at the chance to do.

I am now an Assistant Social Media and Community Manager for adidas Football’s Global Brand Marketing team based in adidas Headquarters, in a small town in the south of Germany called Herzogenaurach.

“I knew the direction I wanted to go was in social media for the sport industry, so I combined my set of skills to create ‘The #StevesJob Internship Campaign’.”

What do you get up to day-to-day?

My responsibilities include managing the social media accounts for the adidas Football Global team, along with coordinating with the adidas local markets to post football content on their local social media accounts. I develop the editorial plan for our content and communicate with fans and followers of the brand on a daily basis.

The beauty of my job is that I find it hard to describe a typical day. Yes, some days are in the office with a lot of meetings and talking to social media followers on our various platforms, but other days I attend photo-shoots with footballers, or present a social media induction to new footballers who have signed with the brand

Okay, we are slightly jealous that you get to work with one of the biggest sports brands in the world and meet famous footballers! What have been the highlights so far?

” I’ve been lucky to meet many famous faces such as Zinedine Zidane, Steven Gerrard, Gareth Bale, Pep Guardiola and Mesut Özil.”

Yes, I feel extremely fortunate. I can absolutely understand the saying ‘work in a job you love and you’ll never work a day in your life’. The headquarters are simply amazing with excellent facilities such as a football stadium, a few 5-a-side turf pitches, tennis court, basketball court, beach volleyball courts and state-of-the-art gym.

The best experience I had was spending six weeks in Brazil for the 2014 FIFA World Cup. I was based in Rio de Janeiro’s C.R. Flamengo football grounds at the adidas PR and Social Media hub called ‘Posto adidas’. It was an intense couple of weeks activating the brand at the tournament, long hours and hard work, but definitely a few weeks I will never forget. Throughout my two and a half years with the brand I’ve been lucky to meet many famous faces such as Zinedine Zidane, Steven Gerrard, Gareth Bale, Pep Guardiola and Mesut Özil. It’s still a thrill to meet the big names in the game, but I also thrive off meeting the young up-and-coming players, talking to them about their social media accounts and being a part of the journey with the brand to stardom.

Talking about journeys, how did you get to where you are now?

My journey started in Derry, Northern Ireland, where I grew up and went to school. It’s a small world because one man I met in Rio was Martin O’Neill, current Republic of Ireland manager. I introduced myself as a fellow alumnus of St. Columb’s College, Derry, and so with that in common we had a great chat. He was an absolute gentleman.

Following on from school I chose to study at Ulster University because it had the courses that appealed to me with my interest in sports and IT. My undergraduate degree was BSc Interactive Multimedia Design. It seemed like something different, a new challenge, and I always wanted to learn web design. The industry seemed like one I could potentially have a future in.

As part of my undergraduate degree, I did a year’s work placement as a Marketing Assistant for Ulster, which was pivotal in my transition to working life. Initially it was quite challenging going from student to employee, but for the first time I was learning to be responsible in a workplace rather than answering to teachers/lecturers. I found myself returning to final year a more disciplined individual, gaining some important skills such as time management and communication.

You mentioned that you were interested in sport as well as IT.  Is that why you chose the master’s degree that you did?

Sport was always an area I wanted to work in. Choosing an MSc in Sport Management allowed me to get closer to that, especially with the inclusion of an internship in the course. I knew that experience would be vital and hearing stories of graduates taking their placements in Dubai and Australia sounded like the perfect opportunity. It was roughly five weeks into the course when I realised I wanted to combine my undergraduate knowledge of the online world with the sports business which I was learning in my master’s.

What I really wanted to be when I was growing up was a professional footballer.  Unfortunately that didn’t work out, however, I do work in the football industry now and get the chance to meet some of the best players in world football – a great alternative and a way of combining my love of everything football with a career.

“Sport was always an area I wanted to work in. Choosing an MSc in Sport Management allowed me to get closer to that, especially with the inclusion of an internship in the course.”

What does the future hold for you?  What’s next?

I’m lucky to have gone straight from university to a role in the best sports brand in the world, so I can’t say for sure what’s next. What I do know is that we have UEFA Euro 2016 in France to look forward to and I learned so much about myself from the recent World Cup that I’m aiming to fine-tune my skills and personal development over the next two years to be at the top of my game. Social media is a fast moving area so it’s important to stay on top of it, otherwise you fall behind.

What advice would you give to current students who are dreaming of their perfect job?

My first recommendation in finding work placement is to be as proactive as you can be. Take all the help offered by the university and do your own research. Don’t stop until you get what you want. Most importantly, connect with people in the industry, your lecturers, and take all of their experience on board. Once you get in the door, be yourself. Ask questions, keep learning, and make sure you share your thoughts and be confident in your own ability.

 

Steve with former French footballer and current coach of Real Madrid Castilla

Steve with former French footballer and current coach of Real Madrid Castilla

Steve meets Steven Gerrard

Steve meets Steven Gerrard

Steve at the Rio World Cup Stadium

Steve at the Rio World Cup Stadium

 

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Kickstart your Superstar Career

If you fancy following in Steve's footsteps, or rather his digital footprint, you can log on to the Ulster website and find out more about BSc Interactive Multimedia Design and MSc Sport Management.

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