When I was traded to the Western Bulldogs from Fremantle for the 2013 season I didn’t expect my AFL career to be finished after just one year, so I certainly didn’t expect to be working as a sales agent with a property broker as the 2014 season approaches.
I’m extremely glad I took the opportunity to undertake a Next Goal placement and to do it with CBRE Australia Corporate Real Estate Services. Before undertaking the placement I didn’t have a strong interest in property. I studied commerce at university and during 2010 (while playing in the SANFL) I worked as an undergraduate accountant.
The reality that AFL football doesn’t last forever has always been at the forefront of my mind and I had to look no further than my brother to see the advantages of doing some form of work experience while still in the game.
When I moved to Melbourne I really had no firm contacts or plans outside of football, but when my brother Ed (also my manager), suggested CBRE I thought I would give it a go.
I worked one-day per week during the season and within a month of being there I started to think it might be a career I would like to pursue post-football. The completion of my placement coincided with my delisting from the Bulldogs and I was fortunate enough to gain full-time employment with CBRE, working under another former player in Andrew Leoncelli.
You might assume the corporate world is far removed from a football club, but I found the two worlds share common values and dialect.
Skills such as leadership, teamwork and the ability to see things from multiple perspectives are extremely transferable and allowed me to transition between the two worlds comfortably. It might sound simple but the ability to have a direct conversation with someone or put aside a difference and move forward is something that is expected within a football club, but is of huge value in business.
Another skill AFL footballers have the chance to hone is the ability to network.
While there are certainly opportunities to do that within an AFL club, it’s really just the tip of the iceberg and fairly or unfairly, having a background as an AFL footballer is an advantage in the outside world.
It is really something players should embark upon with the attitude that you’ve got nothing to lose. You never know what doors might open up if you are willing to put yourself out there. It’s only 20 days so if you choose something you don’t see any potential within, it is not time lost, and at the very minimum it provides a great break from footy.
The Next Goal program or any work experience placement is not always about identifying what you like, but what you don’t.
However, attack it with an open mind, because you might just surprise yourself and find something you fall in love with.