The Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan Montreal

Your next intern could be a high-performance athlete

At the end of each Olympic and Paralympic cycle, high-performance athletes retire and embrace a second professional career. This is a chance for businesses to welcome these talented and skilled workers. How? Find out from the stories of two young professionals on the national team and from the expert knowledge of Montréal Relève and the Institut National du Sport du Québec (INS).

High-performance athlete… and student

Maybe you saw them at the Olympic Games in Rio: Joseph Polossifakis and Sarah-Anne Brault are two high-performance athletes that joined the national team in 2009 and 2013 respectively, with the first practicing fencing, and the second, triathlon. Both of them have worked hard to pull themselves up to the top of the competition, dedicating all their energy day after day to reaching their goals. Yet both of them also have their share of obstacles, such as a stress fracture for Sarah-Anne, just when she joined the national team. Resilience is the key to bouncing back from these setbacks: Sarah-Anne achieved her best results shortly after this fracture at the World Triathlon Series, finishing in fourth place in Auckland. But these injuries, which occur regularly on a smaller scale throughout an athlete’s life, are also a reminder that another life awaits them after their career with the national team.

"Unfortunately, you can’t be an athlete for your entire life. You want to, and you can excel up to a certain point, but you will always need to have backup plan for the future."

- Joseph Polossifakis

It’s with this in mind that Joseph continued his studies during his career, obtaining his Bachelor’s degree in Commerce in 2014. It’s the same situation for Sarah-Anne, a graduate with a Bachelor of Business Administration in Commerce and Finance. Joseph and Sarah-Anne aren’t the exception: for the present period (2017-2018), over 50% of athletes practicing an Olympic sport and 42% of those practicing a Paralympic sport are continuing their university curriculum, according to INS Québec. In short, this is a skilled labour force looking to join the business world either now or in the near future. What they need is a springboard to test their skills and understand the workings of the job market…

Foot in the Door: connecting a talented labour force with the business community

… And what better than a work placement to confirm one’s skills and career choice? This is exactly what Foot in the Door offers. This initiative was established by Montréal Relève in collaboration with INS Québec as part of its Game Plan™ program, which supports the general well-being of athletes over the course of their careers and thereafter. Foot in the Door creates an unprecedented connection between young adults and businesses. “Internships are adapted to athlete’s schedules, in order to make it possible to figure out their interests but also to open up their professional horizons,” says Gaëtan Robitaille, CEO of INS Québec. This is how Sarah-Anne managed to step foot into the business world by joining up with Belairdirect.

“These high-performance athletes have so much potential: not only are they skilled but they possess qualities that can easily be adapted to a professional setting, such as attention to detail, a desire to improve themselves and team spirit. These qualities come from years of training and competing and make athletes prime candidates for businesses.” – Marie-Élaine Normandeau, General Manager at Montréal Relève.

This belief is shared by Isabelle Quinn, owner of the business Sweet Isabelle which opened its doors to young athlete Marie-Lou Morin, Captain of the National Synchronised Swimming Team, within the scope of the Foot in the Door program. She describes the latter as determined, passionate and a strong team player.

It’s a winning combination for all according to Marie-Élaine, as these experiences encourage the retention of a talented labour force in Quebec. Since its creation in 2015, Foot in the Door has facilitated 25 internships.

To offer a hands-on professional experience in your organization:
>> Contact Louise Legault, Project and Development Manager
llegault@montrealreleve.ca