So You Want to Work in Sports and Travel?
That’s me in the ponytail, behind the President
Once upon a time, I was a language teacher. A few years later, with experience and further studies, I became a Teacher Trainer. In other words, I trained people who spoke a foreign language and wanted to obtain certification as language teachers. My side gig at the time was as an English and Spanish translator and interpreter.
They say networking is important for one's career. It most certainly is! Case in point: a former trainee of mine from the teacher's certification course called me a couple of years after she'd graduated. She said she was working for a huge company whose directors wanted an English teacher.
Cut to two years later when one of the directors approached me because the president of the aforementioned huge company had just fired his executive assistant of 25 years and said director had recommended me for the position because, “You’re organized, you speak 3 languages, you don’t have kids and you can do this.”
I was very fortunate because not only was I recommended by someone close to my boss, I spoke 2 of the official Olympic languages, I was single, I could travel on short notice and I could start my new job the day after I was hired.
And then I got home and it hit me: the enormity of the decision I had just made and how my life was about to change! I had the longest panic attack in medical history (it lasted several months) because I was facing a steep learning curve. My new boss was not only President of the International Olympic Shooting Federation (Munich, Germany), he was President of the Olympic Shooting Sport Confederation of the American Continent and he was a Member of the International Olympic Committee (Lausanne, Switzerland). Oh, and he had forgotten to mention that, on a given year, the Federation could have 11 international competitions including the Olympic Games, in at least 8 different countries.
I had A LOT to learn and I had to do it on the fly (my boss wasn't going to stop his activities to teach me) and on the road (he was not going to modify his busy Olympic activities calendar either). Needless to say, I made countless mistakes, some not a big deal, mostly awkward...some HUGE! Every single time, I learned something. And so will YOU if you're serious about becoming an executive assistant in sports. By the way, make sure you subscribe to my blog because when I post this article, I will immediately send out a freebie dedicated to getting you on the road to getting into this world, along with what happened once the panic subsided and I dove into the Olympic World!
Prior to an ISSF/Olympic trip
Before traveling for ISSF meetings, headquarters in Munich, Germany would send me digital files of all meeting agendas. The binder for a Council Meeting can have 200 pages or more and they must all be translated so the President can go through every single one and be able to make notes or discuss certain matters before the event. When he lands in a city where meetings are taking place, he knows every single topic that will be covered.
At every Executive Committee, Council or General Assembly meeting, I sit slightly behind and to the right of the President so I can lean forward to interpret or answer questions regarding what delegates are saying.
At the Range During Competitions
My job consists of being near the President at all times when he’s watching competitions. He is an Olympian, so coaches, officials, and athletes know him well and often approach him to say hello or discuss some technical aspect of the sport. Since English is the universal language, I have to stick close to him in case he needs me to interpret.
However, even though I have to keep an eye on my boss in case he needs me, I also get access to areas where only athletes and officials are allowed, so that's definitely a perk of the job: front-row seats to the most important Olympic qualifying competitions in the world. And it's incredibly exciting to watch an athlete perform a few feet from you, especially when you know an Olympic quota is at stake.
At IOC Sessions and SportAccord Conventions
IOC Sessions are a very, very big deal because this is where the future of the Games and, consequently, of Olympic athletes is decided. Approximately 100 Voting Members of the International Olympic Committee come together in a different city every time. Cities that wish to host an IOC Session present their candidacies years in advance!
International Olympic Committee Sessions are enormous events because the IOC Executive Board, IOC Members, their assistants, IOC Staff and local event organizers running around at all times in the venue, whether it be for the Session itself, lunch or dinner, all of this requiring logistics and attention in terms of guest services, transportation and the day to day matters that do not stop just because you're not in your office.
Executive Assistants are not allowed to sit with the Members, so I sit at the back of the Session hall or outside in the lounge where, if my boss needs me, he texts me and I tiptoe to where he's seated and sneak back out (tip: bring comfy shoes because IOC Sessions run from 9 am to 1 pm, break for lunch, then continue 3 pm to 6 pm, followed by a dinner!). So I have time to get a lot of work done, in the lounge outside the hall.
Do not miss the freebie for subscribers this week, where I will be sending you specific tips for getting your foot in the door if you want to work in the Olympic World!
The Olympic Games are an event that requires at least 2 blog posts, so I will get to those next week.
Meanwhile, subscribe and enjoy the freebies, printables and Olympic giveaways!