First ISPM graduate lands a dream job

This is an article written by a proud lecturer, representing many other proud ISPM lecturers. One of our students from the very first ISPM cohort, from 2017, is not only on his way to getting his diploma in Sport Studies (he passed his graduation thesis!), but also, from his internship, he was offered a … wait for it … JOB! Tomek Mendry is now part of the second largest football club in Poland, KKS LECH POZNAN. I had the pleasure of chatting with Tomek to learn about this fantastic journey.

Tomek and Dani Ramirez website His internship at the club’s sports department was supposed to be around the formation of their women’s football team sector. However, due to COVID-19, the plans changed and, within the department, Tomek was relocated to work with the international players, given his fluency in Spanish, besides Polish and English. He was assigned guardian of the Spanish and Portuguese players, to help them with any problems they could face regarding cultural adaptation. On top of that, our student also worked with the organization of game days in regards to accommodation for all referees, UEFA delegates and VIP guests. Sounds awesome, no?

“My first three days were during the transfer window and the club was signing a player from Spain that didn’t speak English, so I was already working in the transfer market, calling UEFA officials for transfer regulations. It was something I always dreamed of doing and now they are treating me like a member of the club, because I have such responsibilities”, Tomek shares.

Dream job indeed. And, as most of you might imagine, to get an opportunity like this doesn’t come easy. Tomek actually sent a total of 466 (!) resumes in his search for an internship in football anywhere in the world. As the time approached he turned his focus to his home country and started contacting Polish clubs. He soon received five internship offers. What he learned is that clubs in Poland prioritize people with international experience, as they have more knowledge to share, which would help better position the clubs in the European market. So once KKS LECH POZNAN learned about the ISPM programme, its combination of theory with practice, Tomek became the best fit for the job. Still impressed about how much it takes (over 400 resumes)? So was Gmail…

“I’ve got three strikes from Gmail! So I learned that after 40 emails, I needed to change five words in the beginning, or the subject, because they were treating me like spam. Many of my CVs didn’t get to other countries because of that, Gmail labeled me as a spammer and didn’t send the message”, he recalls.

So there is Tomek, working hard, facilitating the adaptation of international players, being in the front line of negotiations, and May comes and his internship is about to end. He was invited by the management on May 17 for a talk and was informed that within his first three weeks of the internship they already knew they were going to offer him a job. However, they wanted to keep his concentration at his task and at his graduation thesis, so in a professional matter, only informed him at the end. Pretty cool.

But what is even cooler is that a part of his job is directly linked to his graduation thesis. The observant Tomek soon realized that there was a ‘problem’ in the way the club approached international players from the negotiation period until the first kick – they were all treated the same way. The issue is that these athletes come from different backgrounds, different cultures, and require different treatment. Then, the lectures on Intercultural Communication (ICC) kicked in and Tomek – in his a-ha moment – developed his project on that: “The biggest barrier for these players is not language, but the mentality of the Polish society and culture. So I will be responsible for holding ICC workshops before the transfer window in the club to prepare all the staff to deal and welcome the international acquisitions. At the moment, they treat the player from Spain the same way as the one from Japan, and if you are too warm and friendly, the Japanese player may feel offended”, he explains.

Now, Tomek, how did your three year studies with us contribute to your internship and your now job?
“After two weeks I was invited to make a presentation to the Board of the club, which is like worth millions of Euros, and me as a 22 year-old student… And after that, I was told ‘wow, your presentation skill is brilliant, where did you learn that?’ To be honest, at the university it felt like every class we needed to present something, so I was ready for that. That day I realized how many advantages we had absorbed from studying in the programme, that we didn’t really know before. Even when we worked in groups and people weren’t collaborating and I had to do more work to get the good grade, that made me prepared for this job”.

Dear Tomek, all of us from the ISPM team wish you good luck on your new job and may the future be even more successful! Looking forward to welcome you as one of our guest speakers!

by Marcela Hofman-Mourao