“The enthusiastic atmosphere was infectious”
Daniel Wells was reading Football Studies with Business at Southampton Solent University, when he acted on an email and registered to be a mentee at our 2014 Raise Your Game conference. He met with Sports Interactive (SI Games) and became a Quality Assurance (QA) tester for Football Manager 2015.
Daniel has written for us about his experience at the conference, his journey into football and how Raise Your Game can help people get into the football industry.
I saw an email in my inbox from my university telling me about Raise Your Game. It was quite a basic email that said that anyone who wanted to work in football should register for the conference.
Once I’d signed, I tweeted about it, and my old school friend Anthony Hay responded positively after it had helped him break into football two years previously, so I had an inkling as to what the conference was.
I read Football Studies with Business at Southampton Solent University, and my dissertation was based around media coverage of women’s football, so I was quite open-minded about the day. I knew I definitely wanted to work within the sport and I used my dissertation and football as an icebreaker when talking to mentors. I could see the overwhelming atmosphere of enthusiasm from mentors and it was really motivating to see people who have been there and progressed to be so positive about football. I spoke to Reshmin Chowdhury, who advised me to speak to Shelley Alexander. She advised me to speak to Polly Fildes, and that positivity was invaluable.
Every mentor had a similar mindset of finding something you’re passionate about and forging a career from it. The same message came through from Miles (Jacobson) and Ciaran (Brennan) of SI Games. “Miles’ career story was particularly motivational. He started in music before moving into Football Manager and he fully immerses himself in any project he gets involved with… and he’s involved in so many (not just football, music and so on, but a the charity work he does for War Child and others).”
I have always been a ridiculously avid Football Manager player, almost embarrassingly so. Miles and Ciaran both asked if I played the game and I went on to visit their stand, speaking to Stu Warren, the QA manager. I wasn’t fishing for any particular role, but he mentioned about entry-level game testing positions. I left my email address with him and two months later, he offered me an interview on the basis that we spoke at the conference. Without Raise Your Game, I wouldn’t have had that one-to-one time with him and building that relationship allowed me to jump a few steps in the recruitment process, going straight to interview instead of filling in an application.
He sold it to me on the fact that I would be paid to play Football Manager. It was a very simple sell! Now my job is to try and break the game, and to understand why it breaks for others. There is a lot more customer service than you might expect. Before I got the job, I worked selling advertising for an oil and gas magazine. That job allowed me to put sales on my CV, but I was away from football, and that absence only strengthened my resolve to work in the sport.
The best advice I could give to mentees is to ‘ask questions’ and to speak to as many people as you can on the day. Don’t be intimidated by the mentors as you all have one thing in common, which is football. Most people at the conference will be at their most comfortable talking about the sport. It’s the same at SI Games. I was told to speak to everyone.
One person I met at the conference who became a colleague was Henry Charnock. He started as a QA Tester and when he interviewed for a PR role, his comfort and knowledge of the game and the platform made it so much easier to make the transition. That’s a jump I would like to make one day and it shows that the pathway exists to do so.
Seeing those pathways is quite inspirational, not just at SI Games. After the conference, seeing the blogs and newsletters from Kick It Out with success stories gave me confidence that Raise Your Game can help you get a job within football.
There are so many people who have got a job in the sport through the conference.
Raise Your Game returns for 2015 at the Emirates Stadium on 28 April. Registration for the waiting list is available from here. Football Manager 2015 is available to purchase now.