An interview with Sharifa Wilkinson
Why did you choose to work at St Mary’s?
Beautiful images of immaculate sports amenities and a charming campus initially drew me to apply for a lecturing role at St Mary’s University. However, it was after communicating with the interview panel I decided to work for St Mary’s. The first staff members I met were welcoming, responsive and showed a genuine interest in my development. I felt that my skills, knowledge, and experience were going to be valued at this university. I remember thinking “if this this the appreciation and care they show to staff, students must feel even more welcomed and apart of the St Mary’s community.”
Once I arrived on campus, I witnessed this to be true. I knew that I had made the right choice. The feeling of community cannot be missed. The student-centred approach is apparent in everything that we do.
Do you have any tips for someone looking to begin a career in Sports Management related industries?
Education is imperative to professional development, however, in Sport Management, it is a combination of academic and applied experience. It is vital for students to volunteer, intern, and/or work in the sports industry. Trying to enter without any sport specific experience will prove to be a challenge unless you have a robust network. That’s why at St Mary’s we include a compulsory work placement as a key element of our programme.
Anyone looking for a career in Sport Management should be actively seeking opportunities that will allow them to gain practical experience. Many professionals in the sports industry start at the bottom and work their way up. While they are working their way up, they are building their contacts, strengthening their professional relationships and growing their network. I cannot stress the importance of having sport related contacts; the sports industry is relationship centric. Someone looking to begin a career in Sport Management should have a LinkedIn and should be working diligently at growing their network.
Lastly, I would say be open to working in all areas of sport. I did, and I learned valuable lessons along the way. While working for popular sport clubs are often at the forefront of people’s minds, it is not the only areas that one can work. There are emerging and innovative sports and sport related businesses that allow you to gain all the traditional skills and experiences offered by popular sports, clubs and industries.
Which past experiences do you bring to your lecturing?
My sport management career began playing at one of the highest levels in women’s football. From there I transitioned from participating in sport and events to organising them. I have worked internationally in sports and events over the past 10 years, including at the Pan/Parapan American Games, Arafura Games and Commonwealth Games. I bring current sport management experience, specialising in venue management and front of house operations. As a Sr. Manager for notable venues, I understand what industry professionals are looking for when hiring graduates. I share this experience with my students to better prepare them for the sports management industry. During my time in the industry, I have made a variety of contacts that I reach out to fill guest speaker slots and find opportunities for sport management students.
What is your favourite part of your job?
My favourite part of my job is interacting with the students as a lecturer or as their personal tutor. I enjoy listening to their unique perspectives on the world as well as on the topics we discuss. I love developing activities that are engaging, current and will be impactful to students once they are out in the workforce. I enjoy having the opportunity to research and share knowledge on my greatest passion, sport management!
View Sharifa's academic profile