For UCFB graduate George Haberman, he couldn’t have picked a better time to join Essex County Cricket Club. Just months before joining the media team at the Chelmsford-based side, the team won their first County Championship in 25 years. Since then, the BA (Hons) Football Business & Finance graduate has been leading the charge with their media output for the County, One-Day and T20 teams at home and abroad. Here, George tells us about his role and time at UCFB Wembley…

How long have you been working for Essex CCC and what does your job entail?

I’ve been working at Essex for nearly a year now. I joined halfway through the Vitality Blast competition last year and it was pretty much like jumping in at the deep end. In my first few weeks we had away fixtures all over England so there was a lot of travelling, and we also hosted India in a warmup match before their series with England, so it was very full on but really good.

I’m the Media & Communications Officer, so my job has quite a few roles. I’m the main press contact for the club so spend a lot of the season dealing with national press and broadcasters, especially Sky who have the Sky Cricket channel. I also lead the social media side of the club, so a lot of my time is taken up with planning and designing content for our social media accounts and communicating the message that we want to deliver as a club.

My job really has so many different scopes though; I also help plan and deliver fan engagement schemes, build content for our TV platform (Essex Cricket TV), and produce all the press releases that come out of the club.

What does a typical day at the office look like for you?

It’ll sound cliché but I really don’t have a typical day, as every day is completely different. During the season my focus is with the first team, and on a match day I’ll do everything from designing the pre-match social media graphics to interviewing the players after the game. The same applies to when we have away games, where I’ll travel with the team to the game and stay away for four or five nights, have the weekend at home and then start the process all over again.

During the off-season, you’d imagine things would slow down but they don’t. This is when we tend to sign players for the upcoming season and announce contract renewals, which means producing a press release, social media content and interviewing the relevant players. I also create and edit the yearbook which is a huge project and there are so many other tasks going on over the winter to ensure things are in place for when the season starts again in March.

With an organisation like Essex CCC, how important is networking and building contacts when working in the football and sports industry?

With all sports, I think it’s really important to get to know the people around you and build up strong relationships. I’ve worked in both professional football and professional cricket, and one thing I’ve noticed more so in cricket is that the governing bodies insist that the all the club’s meet up frequently and run workshops so you can network and share ideas.

Did you undertake any work experience during your time as a student, and if so, how did that help prepare for your current role?

Whilst studying at UCFB I had several work placements. During the first summer of my three years, I began working at my local side Colchester United. I helped on match days during pre-season just to help out the media team. I wasn’t doing anything particularly special, just things like live videos on Periscope and handing out team sheets, but it was a really good way to understand how the match day operations of a club work. They asked me to stay on during the season and I actually ended up being there for three and half years. UCFB helped fund my travel back to Colchester so I could work at every game and over the years my responsibilities grew, and I was eventually doing all the roles that a Media Manager would, such as announcing transfers, writing match reports and interviewing players.

Right at the end of my time at UCFB, I was also fortunate enough to work at the 2017 UEFA Champions League Final in Cardiff as a Line-Up Runner. I was in the tunnel with the UEFA Media Manager gathering the team sheets from both the Real Madrid and the Juventus dressing rooms, which I then distributed to the world press before kick-off. After the full-time whistle, I was helping organise the photographers and assisting the players with their lap of honour on the pitch. My mum has a video recording of me on her phone walking around with Cristiano Ronaldo and Sergio Ramos, which is quite cool really.

Right at the end of the night I was also helping out with the broadcasters and bumped into Steven Gerrard. As a Liverpool fan, I’d always wanted to meet Stevie and we had a really good chat about his playing days, the final itself and what he wanted to do in his managerial career. I’d always advise young professionals in sport against taking pictures and selfies with the sportsmen they meet, but this was one time I made an exception.

Both these placements were vital to my development within the sports industry and as well as learning on the job, I made friends and contacts who I still speak to today and share ideas with.

What skills have you been able to take into the workplace that you learnt during your time at UCFB?

There are plenty of skills that you learn at UCFB which you won’t get at another higher education institution. For me, one of the skills that I developed and really worked on was my public speaking. In my current role, I don’t have to speak to a crowd as such, but I am constantly dealing with huge international broadcasters and some massive sporting names. I would say practicing your public speaking definitely helps when you’re dealing a mixture of Sky Sports, BBC and ITV and names such as Sir Alastair Cook and Ravi Bopara on a daily basis.

What advice can you give to prospective students thinking about studying a degree at UCFB?

The one piece of advice I would give prospective students thinking about studying at UCFB is that if you’re willing to apply yourself, work hard and put your name out there, you’ll make it in this industry, and you’ll love every step of it. Studying at UCFB is excellent, and you learn so many skills that set you up for working in professional sport, but ultimately only you can make that step. You have to absorb everything you learn in the classroom and get as much work experience as you can, because after you’ve graduated and you’re looking for a full-time role in the sports industry, the experience you’ve gained will carry just as much weight as the education. The pair go hand in hand.