By Matt Ouellet
The Ryerson Sports and Business Association (RSBA) kicked off its series of talks on breaking into the sports industry Thursday night as they welcomed back co-founder Jeff Aylen.
Aylen, a 2012 graduate from the retail management program, gave insight to commerce students on how to get their foot in the door of a highly competitive industry. He talked about his journey to his current position as communications co-ordinator at Basketball Canada, as well as the supervisor of the Mobile Fanzone for Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment.
Along the way, Aylen worked for Interperformances, a sports agency, where he negotiated sponsorships for arenas across Europe as well as volunteered for the Toronto Lords Basketball association, running their social media.
Among the advice Aylen shared with students was to never discredit small organizations, as they will likely have more opportunities to learn and grow within them. He also said that success doesn’t look like a straight line and one should never get too comfortable in just one place.
After the presentation, students met with Aylen to discuss their goals in a networking session. Though he was scheduled for just 30 minutes, Aylen talked with students for close to an hour — an indication that this new series looks to be successful, according to RSBA vice president of marketing Adam Hart.
“The RSBA has held events where we’ve had more higher up executives, but we wanted to create a new event to give students an opportunity to connect and network with [speakers] directly afterward and not feel so intimidated,” he said. “It’s nice to have the founders of the RSBA come out and speak on their experiences in the sports industry so far, they’ve only been out for two or three years now, so students can relate to someone who has graduated very recently.”
As a co-founder of the RSBA, Aylen said he was impressed by the growth that the group has seen over the last two years.
“I’m really seeing more students that have a passion for this. At the start of RSBA, there weren’t really any opportunities available in sport, but the program has grown so much in the sense that kids see different opportunities that exist aside from becoming an athlete or a coach,” he said. “The VPs and the Presidents have really brought in great people to show students different opportunities that do exist.”