A growth mindset, strong relationships, and self-awareness.
These are key foundations to individual development and ultimately team success for all athletes – including AFLW players – and are equally important to building careers off the field.
Essendon co-captain Bonnie Toogood and Melbourne midfielder Lily Mithen have already risen to the top as AFLW premiership players and with the end of the 2023 season, the preparation for 2024 will have already begun.
The AFLW stars are also focused on their journeys away from football, and are eager to guide all athletes in kicking their career goals as co-hosts of Workplay: Beyond the Game.
On the third episode, Toogood and Mithen spoke to Tahlia Coulon, Employer Brand and Diversity Consultant at NAB, about career progression, mentors and sponsors, and networking.
‘You all have a great growth mindset’
Athletes in a high-performance environment have little choice but to continually strive for improvement, and it is an approach and attitude that can be just as valuable off the field.
It is also an outlook that AFLW players can turn to as they look to advance their careers now and in the future.
"You all have a great growth mindset, because you have to when you play on the field,” Coulon said on Workplay: Beyond the Game.
"It's about training. It's pushing yourself. It's working as a team. It's always learning and growing.
"It's no different when you work in the corporate world.”
‘Think of mentorship as a guide and sponsorship as an investment’
Just as AFLW players can be inspired by fans over the fence, Coulon recommends finding supporters away from football.
Toogood and Mithen were keen to find out more about mentors and sponsors, and how to make the most of each type of career advocate.
"I like to think of mentorship as a guide and sponsorship as an investment,” Coulon said.
"Mentorship is having someone alongside you to guide you.
"Sponsorship is someone that is investing in you. They see your potential and they're investing in you.”
‘Know the value that you're bringing’
Getting out of your comfort zone and expanding your network is an ideal way to find fresh opportunities and experiences.
To make the most of networking events and similar interactions, whether that is done in person or online, Coulon suggests having a plan for both before and after making new contacts.
"Everyone here has a value, and everyone has a unique value proposition,” Coulon said.
“Know the value that you're bringing, be yourself.”
‘There is only one you’
Whether looking to develop relationships inside or outside a sporting environment it is important to be authentic.
But Coulon also suggests having in mind which parts of your personality you want to promote as your personal brand.
"I know it's such a cliché thing to say just to be yourself, but that's where that power is. There is only one you,” Coulon said.
Bonnie Toogood and Lily Mithen, along with Tahlia Coulon from NAB, have more advice and tips on career progression and much more on the third episode of Workplay: Beyond the Game.
Workplay is a careers and networking platform that provides a community for female athletes to connect with like-minded organisations and global industry leaders that support their off-field careers.