Aston Villa’s Academy players gained vital job-searching experience after taking part in a club-led careers week, which included CV preparation, employer interviews and feedback.
The initiative started with the second-year players each being provided with a job description and person specification, all of which were from people connected to the club, such as Managing Directors of sponsors or host families with businesses.
They were then tasked with writing CVs and covering letters for their assigned job, which the interviewers had access to in advance so that they could probe and research the apprentices.
The following day, the youngsters went to Villa Park dressed in suits and experienced the interviewing process, while the itinerary also incorporated a stadium tour and a slot for learning about the club’s history before the young Villains were then given a debrief regarding their performance.
Eighteen-year-old Indiana Vassilev told LFE: “We’re all ambitious and driven to be footballers. However, it’s always good to be prepared because you could go into training and have a career-ending injury, so it’s very important to have another pathway in mind. I think this will be very beneficial to many of us, no matter how long we play or high a level we get to.
“All of us dressed up smartly, came into the stadium and had an interview with a company that would like to hire us, so it’s touching on real life skills that we’d need to know. Afterwards, they gave us feedback on how the interview went so that we can learn from the experience and when the day comes where we have a real interview, we’ll have the required skills.
“I went into it with an open mindset, so I was keen to learn as much as I could. There wasn’t too much pressure on it because we know it’s not a real interview, so I thought it was key to be open-minded and soak up the experience. The more often you encounter something, the calmer you feel when you’re in that environment, so I think it’s been very beneficial.
“It can also help us with our football careers because it would be quite easy to transfer these skills that we’ve learned to interviewing for a new club because they will want to know who you are as a person. You need to be good in the locker room, good with the fans and good with the staff, so I think this sort of experience and the skills we will learn from it would help for a scenario like that.”
The teenagers were exposed to new career ideas and encouraged to consider alternative interests, with the event being part of a wider package that also offers all apprentices work experience placements in industries outside of football.
“I have taken an interest in real estate because it’s something I can do while I’m playing, so I’ll definitely try to gain my credentials,” the American starlet said. “Being a player at Villa, I obviously get money and I’m going to try to invest that money in real estate, so I can have a couple of different properties. I just want to expand my horizons.
“To succeed in real estate you need good communication skills. Having clear and concise information to pass on to your client is extremely important and I think that is similar to being here at Aston Villa. We come in and have to receive information, process it and then relate it to someone else.
“For example, if you’re the captain you have to take information from the head coach and relay it to the rest of the team. Being a real estate agent, you have to communicate with people of different backgrounds and you have to be comfortable with being uncomfortable. At Villa, every day we’re put in challenging positions and you have to adapt and get used to it.”
This feature is included in Issue 38 of LFE’s Touchline magazine.