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From Trainee to Business Owner

From Trainee to Business Owner

From Trainee to Business Owner

Jenna Watts believes her traineeship at Brisbane Lions Football Club helped to accelerate her career and opened up many doors to work for some of the most notable organisations in Australia. In the last two years, Jenna has started her own business venture and is the owner of women’s podcast channel, 21st Century Women and has been appointed to the board of Guide Dogs Victoria.

“I can definitely say, I wouldn’t have worked in the organisations I have worked, without my traineeship, regardless of my degree. It provided me with the ‘foot in the door’ that otherwise would have taken me years to get,” said Jenna.

“I grew up in the country and went to school there so access to business networks in particular those you can gain through private inner-city schools, wasn’t easily accessible. I wasn’t able to lean on networks in the country community to aid my professional career that is why the traineeship is so important because it gave me vital networks that opened new doors in my career,” she added.

Jenna’s career journey began when she took on a traineeship at the Brisbane Lions Football Club in 2010 where she worked on the Sponsorship Team and studied a Certificate III in Business.

“My sister did a traineeship so I had heard all about them and the gap they can bridge between wanting a career or a job and fulfilling that goal. I took the traineeship, fully believing it was the only path that would accelerate my career and it did.

Although there are many pathways of conquering goals or landing that dream job, I couldn’t think of a more supported way than a traineeship.” 

Jenna shined through her traineeship at Brisbane lions and was offered ongoing employment at the Club.

She has worked for well-known organisations including the Australian Army, Channel 9, Tennis Australia and Melbourne Racing Club before jetting off to London to fulfill other career opportunities.

“In my opinion employers are looking for people who want to apply themselves and those who have practical experience. So a traineeship is priceless and it is no doubt the reason why I was able to go from an exciting organisation to the next.”

Jenna went on to pursue further studying however for her, it was the experience she gained through her traineeship that she feels got her to where she is today.

“It’s that all important work experience that gives you that initial push, that spark that gets the ball rolling and that propels you into an amazing career journey.”

I have done both tafe and uni, it is fair to say both offer and provide very different opportunities and skillsets. However I do believe regardless of what theory you have behind you, nothing beats hands on experience and time spent in a role to develop skills so you can progress further.” Jenna is now not only a business owner, she is also a mum of two and continues to use her knowledge and skills gained through her career journey and her personal life to empower others.

“I am grateful for my journey so far and can’t wait to see what the future holds for me but I never forget where it all started, and that was from my traineeship.”


This article is part of a series to highlight the real stories of young people who chose a Traineeship as their career pathway.

The ‘Careers are made through Traineeships’ article series features AFL SportsReady alumni demonstrating ‘where they ended up’ post Traineeship.

​To find out more about our Traineeship program and the opportunities it can lead to, click here.

#realskillsforrealcareers

Date: 25th of February 2021

Image: Jenna Watts.

Author: Marissa Pagliarello