Careers in Leisure

 

In brief

The leisure industry offers international graduate opportunities within sports, tourism, hospitality and event management as well as a vast range of part-time and entry level work.

You could be working within sports policy, development and administration, coaching and wellbeing, on a graduate programme within a global hotel, leisure brand or travel agency… the list goes on.

What underpins the work is a desire to create enjoyable experiences for the betterment of people’s everyday lives. Employers are looking for you to demonstrate communication, flexibility, commercial awareness and a commitment to the industry.

Where can you work?

Whilst the number of LSE graduates choosing to work in this sector is fairly small, there are a huge range of options. The areas listed here are some of the most popular with our alumni:

What’s changing in the sector?

The most notable change has been the rapid growth in online organisations and the sharing economy. For example, organisations like Airbnb have disrupted the global travel industry and the way in which people plan and experience their holidays.

Another key change involves the increasing number of roles working in data and technology. Organisations are increasingly relying on data to build and drive their business forward.

In some areas, companies such as Hawkeye (an innovator in sports technology) have totally transformed our capabilities within the sector.

Useful Websites

CareerHub – jobs board targeting LSE students, including events and networking opportunities.

Prospects Hospitality & Event Management – an overview of job profiles and opportunities, key skills and further study options within hospitality and events.

Prospects Leisure, Sport & Tourism – an overview of job profiles and opportunities, key skills and further study options within leisure, sport & tourism.

TARGETjobs Hospitality, Leisure & Tourism – an overview of some of the main graduate employers in the sector.

BASES – careers advice from the professional body for sport and exercise sciences in the UK.

UK Sport – aids in the development of sport within the UK, includes a job board, news and events.

AEO – Association of Events Organisers provides job vacancies and networking opportunities.

Leisure Jobs – search for leisure jobs across the world.

Local Government Jobs – search for roles related to leisure within local government.

Useful Information

Routes in

Introduction

This sector often values experience over academic credentials. We recommend looking for part-time and casual work experience to demonstrate your motivation for the industry and understanding of customers and clients. Look for advertised jobs on industry specific websites and with professional bodies, as well as using CareerHub.

If you’re looking to gain experience

There are many part-time, casual and entry level roles in this sector, which you could undertake alongside your studies. Having a variety of relevant work experience will be just as valuable as your academic credentials, as it demonstrates a motivation to work in the industry.

If you’re early on in your career

There are structured graduate schemes across a range of functions in large organisations like Whitbread, Marriot and Thomas Cook. However, the common route into many of these schemes involves starting in an entry level role or undertaking an internship and building your expertise.

If you have more experience

With more experience, your network becomes increasingly important. Many of the senior roles within the sector are likely to be recruited via networks or head hunters and search firms. Therefore, it’s important to maintain your contacts and build your LSE network, e.g. through LinkedIn. Senior roles are also advertised on industry specific websites.

If you’re changing career

People can move into this sector using existing experience, e.g. a lateral move from working in sales in another sector to working in sales within hospitality. As the industry values experience and knowledge, you would be expected to gain relevant experience and work your way up.

Not sure what to do next?

We’re here to talk over your career plans with you. It doesn’t matter what stage you’re at, so don’t feel you have to have it all worked out. You can book a one-to-one appointment with a careers consultant on CareerHub.

Job roles

There are a huge number of different job roles within leisure sport, travel and events. We’ve outlined some of the main areas LSE students are interested in, including links to where you can find more information. If you can, try and talk to someone who’s doing the job you’re interested in, and if possible, try and gain some casual experience whilst at LSE so you get a real flavour of what it’s like.

  • Event/Conference management – works on events in house or for an external agency. Good organisation skills are vital as you will be planning events from conception, through to running the day itself and the post event evaluation. The Prospects Event manager job profile and the TARGETjobs overview of Conferences and events provide further details.
  • Policy& Development – many LSE students are interested in working for the government or organisations and bodies that help to develop policy to improve access and amenities within the leisure and sports industry. This includes government roles and policy roles within think tanks and research organisations. The TARGETjobs Sports development officer job description and DCMS careers page are useful resources.
  • Data analysts – the importance of high quality consumer data in the sports, hospitality and leisure industry has led to an increasing number of roles working with data. If you like working with data and are highly analytical this area could be of interest. Check out the Prospects Data analyst job profile.
  • Communications& Marketing – this sector has many roles available within communications and marketing for the promotion of services. The Prospects sector overview of Marketing, advertising and PR and our Careers in Media & Communications page provide more information.
  • General management, Facility management & Corporate functions (HR, IT, Finance, Sales) – there are many roles available within the large hospitality, tourism and sports organisations providing infrastructure support or general managerial support across functions such as HR, IT, Finance and Sales. It’s likely these will be structured programmes. Visit our Careers in Business page to find our more.

 

There are also many roles available in smaller, independently owned organisations. Many individuals working within the leisure industry also set up and run their own business, such as becoming a personal trainer or owning a restaurant. Freelance work is also common in the events industry, although this does usually require building up a strong portfolio of events work first.

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