‘My FIFA Experience Has Enhanced My Professional and Personal Development’
The football world championship, held in Russia in 2018, gave students of Russian universities the opportunity to participate in the organization of one of the world’s largest international events. A student and a graduate from HSE’s master’s programme ‘Governance of Science, Technology and Innovation’ told the news service about their experience at FIFA and how HSE helped them to work in international teams.
Olga Dremova, 2nd year student
At the FIFA World Cup, I worked in the ‘Protocol’ section as a volunteer. My main duty was to help VIP guests at the matches and official FIFA events, to meet and accompany them to VIP zones, to show them to their seats in the stands and to present them with souvenir gifts. Some volunteers from my section also helped out at the welcome desks at FIFA hotels.
All the volunteers at the World Cup 2018 were carefully selected – we had to sit an English exam, interviews, and tests of analytical and personal skills, including communication and stress resistance. The Institute for Statistical Studies and Economics of Knowledge master's programme gave me the skills I needed to work in an international team, meet deadlines and to problem-solve, all of which helped me to become a FIFA volunteer.
There were additional selection criteria for each volunteer section. Protocol volunteers had to be able to speak two foreign languages, to understand business etiquette and intercultural communication, and to be able to react quickly in challenging situations. Out of 1,500 candidates in Moscow alone, only 85 were chosen as volunteers for the Protocol section. I think that the competences I gained from the master’s programme, especially my ability to think critically and creatively, played a key role in my being accepted. A big plus was my volunteer experience at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, where I was an assistant to a member of the International Olympic Committee from China.
The Protocol volunteers did not only work at the football matches (I only worked at 8 matches at Luzhniki and Spartak stadiums, and the most memorable, of course, was the Russia-Spain match). We also worked at official events prior to the start of the championship. I helped out at the meeting of the 68th FIFA Congress and carried a pennant out onto the stage, which FIFA President Gianni Infantino then presented to President Vladimir Putin. I also carried out the winning bid by the United States, Mexico and Canada to host the World Cup in 2026.
We often spoke in English with foreign guests of the organizing committee and FIFA, as English is the official language of the World Cup. I had no problems with communication because English is also the main language of my master’s programme. We write all our papers in English and communicate with international lecturers. My knowledge of the Chinese was most useful when helping fans – most of them came from China.
At the World Cup, I ran into many of my friends. A lot were from HSE and others were people with whom I had worked on various projects. I am sure that we will see each other again in the future.
Shashank Pant, graduate of the programme
My journey to Russia as a student at HSE has been full of unique experiences. Through my master’s education in ‘Governance of STI’ at one of the most prestigious universities in Russia, I have been able to build a new set of skills. These include both managerial as well as soft skills. The international faculty and the diverse range of courses offered on the programme provide a firm foundation for an exciting career. Even before coming to Russia, I had made up my mind about taking part in a global sporting event. Through the FIFA Legacy Programme at HSE, I was shortlisted to become the Assistant to Venue Technical Manager at Luzhniki Stadium- the main venue for 2018 FIFA World Cup. In order to be selected for this internship position, I went through two rounds of interviews.
The HSE master’s programme has helped me to improve my communication and presentation skills. These were invaluable during the interview stage. Moreover, I was able to explain my interests and the motivation to the interview panel in a convincing manner.
The exciting journey began in May, and I was sure that the experience would be another milestone in my professional and personal development.
As an intern, my job profile included assisting the Venue Technical Manager in all technical operations related to the broadcast of the world cup matches. As part of the core team, I worked with a completely international team of professionals. The number of colleagues of different nationalities who I met and worked with during this time was enormous- much like on the Master’s programme at HSE. I was able to learn quite a lot in a short space of time.
At ISSEK, I worked as an intern and researcher, which helped me to understand complex topics with ease and increase my knowledge capacity. At the World Cup, I was able to use my research skills and understand things in a more refined way. Moreover, the job opportunity itself was special; it’s quite rare to get offered the chance to work for FIFA and especially during a World Cup- the most popular sporting event in the world.
As an avid fan of football, I had always dreamt of watching live football matches and seeing the global football icons play in front of cheering crowd. I was able to fulfil these dreams through this amazing job. In addition to providing technical assistance during the group matches, I was part of the technical team of the final match. As almost 3 billion people watch the World Cup on television globally, to participate in its successful broadcast was a great honor for me. Moreover, I witnessed all the action of the field live. This is a rare opportunity, owing to the fact that FIFA allows only a handful of people to be on the field during a match. Even my family and friends reminded me how lucky I was to be a part of such a big international event.
The new friends I made and the moments we shared together will be etched in my memory forever. The atmosphere that football fans create while cheering their team is a sight to behold, the emotions people experience for this great game is beyond words. After the World Cup was over, I had a sense of emptiness. I had been so passionately involved in this event. If it were not for the master’s programme at HSE, which assisted my development over the past two years, I would never have been able to embark on this wonderful journey.