Giving Supporters Representation

Scottish Supporters Network

Supported by:   Supporters Direct Scotland

An Interns Reflection

Date: 1st September 2017

By Kyle Easdale 

Having completed my internship with Supporters Direct it is time to reflect on what I have learned over the course of the summer. Gaining an internship is incredibly difficult, especially in the sport industry and I am thankful to Andy for replying to my spontaneous email.

 

From the offset, Andrew and Mark blended the intern team into the organisation. The introductory presentation set the context of our internship, how our role would help grow the company and it was refreshing to know that we were now respected employees of Supporters Direct. As an intern, being exposed to the real side of work is nerve-wracking. This was not to be the case at Supporters Direct; the company culture and friendly working environment immediately settled any worries through being inclusive. Being fresh to my new role, it was understandable that I would continually be questioning how to work, what was required of myself and any other work related matters. Given the nature of Andrew and Mark, I never hesitated to ask questions as they were continually on hand to assist and coach me in the right direction.

 

Throughout my internship, I had the opportunity to work and develop many football related matters that I never knew existed before.  This is the great part about an internship; you get exposure to ideas, people, and ways of working that are often bypassed in academia. Firstly I researched into the Supporter Liaison Officer role (SLO), which is an initiative, championed by UEFA and Supporters Direct to bridge relations between clubs, fans, the board and wider community. This is vital for good governance in football and the SLO role will become a key pillar in the future makeup of Scottish Football. While researching, I got the opportunity to analyse survey data, compile results into readable format and make headway on a booklet for all SLO’s to use for best practice.

 

As a business student, I thoroughly enjoyed being involved with Supporters Direct sponsorship drive. As a means of growing the business, Supporters Direct are utilising all viable means to attract funding aimed at helping the company strive forward with many exciting initiatives. Hopefully, the sponsorship strategy will come to fruition to unleash the excellent plans that currently lie in the pipeline.

 

Over the course of the internship, dialogue and devils advocate played a key role in my own personal development. Oftentimes, people are happy to sit in silence and not express their true feelings on a topic but this was totally discouraged with the SD company culture. Almost everyday we would stop what we were doing to either oversee Marks presentation or listen to Andrews’s new idea or analyse what one of the fellow interns had produced. This allowed for continual cross communication between the team whereby we were sharing ideas, being honest about what we liked/disliked and made recommendations accordingly. This was particularly enjoyable prior to major event launches such as the Supporters Direct Annual Summit. Being able to dry run and cross-examine the presentation in the office beforehand was good practice. It was not only welcoming that your input was taken on board but it also gave you a sense of achievement when the presentation was a success.

 

This was particularly rewarding before the release of the annual supporters survey. The hard work and endeavour that goes into the survey is often bypassed when the results are released. Andy and Mark deserve great credit for the manner in which they are trying to pioneer change in the Scottish game by listening to supporters and the survey has deservedly become a mainstay in how we analyse Scottish football from the fans perspective. Before the survey results went live, we were grouped to discuss the main talking points and discuss our strategy for gaining press coverage. Ranking the topics 1-5, we all came up with differing views; this is the great thing about SD’s communication platform as it encourages employees to speak openly, which allows for differing views to be contrasted. Through differing views, we then reached a consensus on the standout aspects from the survey and all of which succeeded in gaining wide ranging press coverage – succeeding in our initial aim. 

 

On a side note, perhaps one thing I would change going into the job or would advise for upcoming interns is to brush up on your 80’s football knowledge. Now I have watched many an episode of football years but if you want to succeed in the lunchtime quizzes take my advice and get practicing – these guys know their stuff!

 

All in all, I have thoroughly enjoyed working with Supporters Direct Scotland and have learned vastly from my experience over the summer. I have been able to test myself in a new role, identify knowledge gaps and familiarise myself with a new style of working.  I am thankful to Mark and Andrew for giving me the opportunity to further develop myself. I would highly recommend Supporters Direct Scotland to anyone looking for further development, particularly those in academia and want to thank everyone I’ve worked with over the course of three months for making my time so enjoyable.

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