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Careers clinic: How I got an internship with a social media campaign

Irish student Stephen Cleary has just earned a place at Adidas’s marketing HQ in Amsterdam thanks to his social media campaign.

A screengrab of Stephen Cleary's internship campaign appeal
A screengrab of Stephen Cleary's internship campaign appeal
Image: Stephen Cleary via Stephen-Cleary.com

MY NAME IS Stephen Cleary, and I’m a Sport Management Masters student in University of Ulster, Jordanstown. I wanted an internship in the field where my passion really lies: the use of social media in sport.

Here’s how I got exactly what I wanted.

On Thursday, 20 October, I wrote a blog about the growing importance of social media in sport. I tweeted a link to the blog: and, almost for the fun of it, I tweeted it directly to the content manager on the Liverpool FC website – with a note to say they should give me an internship to work on their social media. I’m a big Liverpool fan, but didn’t really expect anything to come of it.

That evening, I noticed that another influential group in the sports industry – @socialsport – had retweeted my tweet. They have over 1,300 followers, which meant that potentially another 1,300 people, many of whom are also influential in sport, may have got to see my tweet.

That really got me thinking: if I could get enough people to see that I wanted an internship in social media in sport, I might just be successful: and the best way to do it was to use the very social media platforms that form a huge part of my college course.

And, so, Steve’s Job campaign was born, and the primary vehicle was www.stephen-cleary.com/job.

I wrote:

My name is Stephen Cleary. I’m a Sport Management Masters student in Northern Ireland at the University of Ulster. I am looking for an internship in the sports industry. Being specific, in Social Media in Sport. I have devised three ways of accomplishing my campaign: Twitter, YouTube, Blogging.

I became quite explicit in my search. I kept talking about my internship, and also about social media in sport. I asked people to retweet, favourite, or comment. And I was amazed by what happened: people were very complimentary about my approach, and were happy to spread the word. I reached a wide – and influential – audience in no time.

I produced six YouTube videos talking about the use of social media in sport, and of these all helped to keep the campaign alive. People involved in sport all over the world gave my campaign a boost with a retweet, a favourite, or a comment.

Some time earlier, I had applied directly to Adidas’ international marketing office in Amsterdam for an internship. I now made them aware of my emerging online campaign. They were very impressed by the initiative I’d shown, and how I had made innovative use of social media platforms for my own purposes – and so they offered me the internship.

I will be starting there in February. Result!

The whole campaign lasted just six weeks, and helped to get me what I wanted. Adidas is a great start for me in the sports management world. My classmates were sceptical at first, but they were amazed at how well it worked. Many of them are now looking at other non-conventional methods to help them secure their internships.

Liam Horan of www.SliNuaCareers.com is the Journal’s resident careers guru. Here’s his view on Stephen’s campaign:

Stephen shows what can be achieved once you’re prepared to stand out from the crowd. It was a particularly clever campaign on his part, because not only did it reach the key people he wanted to reach, but because it also showed his mastery of social media, a key part of his studies.

I am not one bit surprised that influential people in the world of sport retweeted him: people are always impressed by somebody who is willing to put themselves ‘out there’ to be noticed, particularly if there is substance behind the approach. A gimmick built on a real foundation can be very powerful. It’s an approach that many others could adopt – there’s nothing to lose, and a great deal to gain. We’d be keen to hear from
others with a similar story to tell.

One of Stephen’s Youtube videos (stephencleary12/Youtube.com):


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