After completing several work placements with Premier League Champions Manchester City during his BA (Hons) International Football Business degree, Sam Dickov secured a full-time role at the club at the start of the 2021-22 season. Here, the UCFB Etihad graduate tells us about the role and how to make the most of your three years at university, wherever you are…

Tell us about your role as Partnership Operations Executive and how you landed it.

I currently hold the role of Partnership Operations Executive at Manchester City Football Club. The role itself primarily focuses on partnership delivery, helping to ensure all of our partners have their rights delivered throughout the season – which can be anything from tickets, merchandise, events and branding. Having recently graduated, I feel extremely grateful to have secured this job, particularly so soon after finishing university in the Covid climate.

I was lucky enough to complete a number of work placements at the Premier League club throughout my first and second years at university, gaining a wealth of experience and building my contact base in such a short period of time, with partnerships being an area that I seriously enjoyed, becoming a no brainer as the area I wished to pursue. As Covid eased and more jobs became available, this allowed me to build up my interview skills as I started applying for almost everything that was becoming available within the realms of partnerships in football, leading to being offered this role.

What have been some of the highlights of the role so far?

There have been so many highlights during my short time at the club so far. But, if I had to pick one, it would be getting the opportunity to work at our away fixture against Club Brugge in Belgium, for the group stages of this season’s Champions League. I was lucky enough to be one of a number of the partnerships team that went out to Brugge for this fixture in October, hosting partners for the game over a period of two days.

What have you brought into the role from your BA (Hons) International Football Business degree?

I’ve brought so many aspects of my degree into my role and wider life since graduating. The university experience as a whole made me a much more personable human being. Being placed in new environments where I didn’t know anyone forced me to embrace and create new relationships with other students, tutors, wider academics and industry professionals. From group presentations to speaking to industry professionals and academics for my undergraduate dissertation, this has given me a lot more confidence with my communication in my current role.

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You did multiple work placements at the club during your degree at UCFB Etihad. Tell us about this role and how important it was for securing your full-time position at the club?

As mentioned, I was incredibly fortunate to be able to complete two work placements at Manchester City during my time at UCFB through personal contacts, gaining experience across numerous departments (partnerships, events, marketing, communications and retail) which gave me such an incredible insight into the whole club, allowing me to build strong relationships with individuals across multiple departments, which I still hold today. It’s talked about so much in the world of football and wider corporate landscape, but never underestimate the power of networking and building up your contact base. The foundations of securing my current job role at Manchester City were planted two or three years earlier during these work placements.

How did you find being a student in Manchester?

Manchester as a city I love; aside from housing the best football club in the world (City!), there’s so many great places to go out for food, drink or wider activities. Being able to have experienced the student lifestyle whilst living in halls and learning to live independently, whilst still having the luxury of being fairly close to home was ideal whilst I was studying.

What were some of your favourite modules within your degree?

Naturally, there were some modules during my time at UCFB that I enjoyed more than others. Many of these being ones that were centred around the degree itself, such as International Football Business Analysis, where we had the opportunity to fly out to Dublin to visit the Football Association of Ireland, getting the chance to have guest speaker sessions from the CEO Fran Gavin, experiencing a tour of the facilities, and most importantly trying my first Guinness!

What advice would you give to anyone looking to study at UCFB?

UCFB gives you such an incredible platform to propel yourself in the sports industry - embrace it. Whether it’s through the student unions or councils, becoming a student ambassador or joining the exceptionally strong academy set-up, there are so many opportunities given to you whilst you are there. It would be foolish to pass them up.

Finally, set the standard for yourself in first year. You often hear when you join university that your first year is a ‘nothing’ year, or that in the grand scheme of things it doesn’t really count towards anything. But planting good habits at this early stage of your career as a university student makes it so much easier for yourself in the long term, as these routines carry into your second and third years without you even thinking. It can be such simple things that build up to better prepare yourself in all aspects, such as planning ahead for assignments, doing your wider reading or catching up with your tutors on a regular basis, which all make such a difference.