How working while studying benefited my career
Mike Dixon graduated from Solent in 2013 with a degree in football studies. He went on to work for the Saints Foundation where he's now senior schools and community project officer. We caught up with him to find out how he's getting on.
Mike Dixon graduated from Solent in 2013 with a degree in football studies. During his studies, he worked at Southampton FC on a casual basis. When he finished his degree, he went on to work for the Saints Foundation where he's now senior schools and community project officer. We caught up with him to find out how he's getting on.
Why did you choose Solent?
Before going to university I knew I wanted to work in the football industry and this course seemed the stand out choice to join as it was so specific to the industry.
Tell us about your career at the Club? What role did you start with and what are you doing now?
I started as a casual coach with the Saints Foundation in 2010 after I contacted the Club prior to moving to Southampton from Gloucestershire to start university.
After working on a casual basis for three years, I decided to stay in Southampton after completing my studies. I was offered the my first full time role with Saints Foundation as a project officer running the Premier League Works programme, which aims to get 16-25 year olds back into work or education.
Over my last five years within the Saints Foundation I have worked across a number of our charitable projects and now oversee a team that delivers our programmes in the city’s primary and secondary schools. Alongside this work, I have also continued with my coaching, working with the pre-foundation phase with the academy. In 2016 I took the opportunity to join the girl’s and women’s programme by coaching the U14s players with an aim to develop players for our first team and for England’s Lionesses.
How did casual work support you during your time as a student?
The casual role for me was vital and allowed me access to a number of opportunities during my studies, as well as some extra money to support my studies.
When I have spoken to students in the past I've been keen to advocate the importance of gaining experience alongside studies - without that experience it is hard to relate all the theory to real-world situations. If I hadn't done the work I did outside of my studies, I would not be sat where I am today - getting to know a network at the Club, as well as building a reputation, were vital to me getting the opportunity to progress.
With this said, even if I were to have left Southampton and gone elsewhere, the experiences and references I had gained during that time, coupled with my degree, would have put me in a really good position when applying for roles.