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My Sports Internship Abroad with GWS GIANTS in Sydney, Australia

April 11, 2023
by Tyler Harms-Synkiew
Stairs leading to the main entrance of the GWS GIANTS location
GWS GIANTS main entrance.

As a sports management major, I was quite stoked at the possibility of being able to intern while abroad. I've worked with many teams back in the United States, including the Minnesota Vikings, Minnesota Timberwolves, and Minnesota Wild, in addition to a few other teams and organizations. Once I committed to interning while in Sydney, I was excited about the potential chance to work with a sport that I wasn't familiar with. In fact, upon arrival in Sydney, other than the little bit of research I did on the Greater West Sydney GIANTS (commonly referred to as "GWS GIANTS" or "GIANTS"), I knew very little about Aussie rules football or the AFL.

Let's take a step back: how did I get in touch with the GWS GIANTS?

A person wearing sunglasses and smiling in a GWS GIANTS t-shirt while at the GIANTS stadium in Sydney
I got to check out a GWS GIANTS game.

When I applied to go abroad, I was put in touch with CEA CAPA. This is where I filled out my housing preferences and all the other paperwork that you will fill out once you commit to going abroad.

Part of this process focused on an optional internship and finding the right fit. In addition to the paperwork and filling out my preferences, I also had a meeting with someone from CEA CAPA to talk through my preferences and discuss more in-depth exactly what I was looking for. From there, the CEA CAPA team is there to support you in anything you might need help with, but ultimately it's a matter of being patient and trusting the CEA CAPA staff to get you where you want to be.

A GWS GIANTS Australian Football game at the stadium in the evening in Sydney
Attending a GIANTS AFL game.

In my case, my program started towards the end of January. I received an email from CEA CAPA saying they found a good match in early December and shortly after I had an interview with the GWS GIANTS. Not long after, we sorted out the paperwork to finalize everything. Admittedly, I was a little uneasy about the process (just general worries) but when I reached out about any concerns, CEA CAPA was good about responding and alleviating my worries.

A sign that says, "Platforms", at a train stop in Sydney
Train stop where I disembark to go to my internship's offices.

Fast forward a month or so, it's my first day with the GIANTS. I communicated with my internship supervisors to figure out the details: where to go, what time to get there, etc. Since beginning with the GIANTS, it's been a standard internship. They took me through a formal training, as well as some job shadowing to get acquainted.

The GWS GIANTS front office in Sydney, Australia
Front office of the GWS GIANTS.

My role is with the membership team as an experience intern. For reference, memberships are the equivalent to season tickets in the United States. My responsibilities mainly include calling members the GIANTS already have on board and talking them through the renewal process as well as calling other people who have previously attended GIANTS games and seeing if membership might be right for them.

It's been exciting to gain more sales and service experience and compare how they do things here versus how it's done in the US. For instance, in Australia the approach seems a lot less profit-driven. The ticket prices are much more affordable and the athletes don't seem to be on as much of a pedestal. When working with US sports, I've always been told not to acknowledge athletes unless they acknowledge me. With the GIANTS, it's not uncommon for athletes to come into the office and if I do walk by an athlete, I treat them no differently than anyone else. It seems much more relaxed and laid-back compared to other experiences I've had.

An office desk indoors with a computer on it and other workspaces around it
My desk.

One of the perks of working for an AFL team is the beautiful facility. In addition to typical office spaces, there is a full practice facility, including a full AFL field (fun fact: these can be over 200 yards long and 170 yards wide!), workout gym, and a cafeteria which is where the players and staff eat lunch.

An Australian Football practice field
GIANTS practice field.
An indoor gym with an assortment of equipment around
The facility's workout gym.
Five people pose happily at a GWS GIANTS game in Sydney with the field and stadium in the background
With my friends at the game!

A neat thing about the facilities is that when the players aren't using them, staff are able to use it. During lunch breaks when players aren't around, we often hang out here for a while after, which is a good way to break up the day. In addition, a few staff members like using the gym to work out immediately following their work shift.

Tyler Harms-Synkiew is the Content Creator - Blogger.
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