January 10, 2020, by jhillary1

How to turn your interest in sport into valuable career skills

By Joss Hillary, Information Officer

You don’t have to be an elite athlete to boast about the benefits of your sporting experience to an employer. Students are gaining valuable experience through schemes such as the Leadership Academy, set up with UoN sport. Read about their experiences and the important skills they developed.

Develop a range of alternative skills

My involvement with the Leadership Academy at the University of Nottingham began last year when I started as a volunteer for the ‘Leaps’ programme, since then my involvement has expanded to volunteering for ‘Discovery Days’ also. In an effort to enhance the inclusivity and participation within our club, the Handball Club committee also chose to set up and run the first ‘Handball in Schools’ scheme in 2019. Being involved in the Leadership Academy has been an exciting and unexpected part of my overall university experience. I have had opportunities to grow skills for personal development whilst also volunteering for a cause that I am passionate about. As a volunteer for the Leadership Academy, you become part of a community for which the central focus is the promotion of accessible sport for all, meaning that everyone has the chance to play, enjoy and reap the benefits of sport.

Through my involvement with the Academy I have gained a range of alternative skills such as presenting to audiences of varying age ranges, logistical management of teams and creative thinking in order to deliver sport sessions that will inspire and engage younger students. Alongside these learnt skills, involvement with the Leadership Academy has presented the opportunity to make important links with industry partners at Alumni events, celebrate collective achievements with social events and for a lot of memorable afternoons spent with friends, playing and delivering sport sessions. Getting involved with the various schemes within the academy has come with many benefits, but overall it has been a fun addition to my time at university. The Leadership Academy is a fundamental strand of the UoN Sport department and I am proud to have contributed to the work that goes on within this department. I would highly recommend getting involved as a volunteer for one of the schemes the academy offers, especially if you are keen on inclusive sports and fancy a new personal challenge!

Emily Richardson, BSc Geography

Follow your passion and discover new opportunities

Being involved with the Leadership Academy has helped me grow in so many ways. Firstly, in terms of time management, I got involved with Flag in Schools while completing my PhD, which was quite the task in of itself! Doing Flag in Schools helped me to effectively prioritise my work and then work efficiently within that allocated time. This was such an important skill to develop ahead of entering the ‘real-world’ and has helped me tremendously in establishing a healthy work-life balance.

Secondly, coaching in local secondary schools with people from different backgrounds really helped me to develop my communication skills and my ability to respond to fast-changing situations. For example, on one occasion we arrived at the school with our session plans, to find that we had twice as many children than we were expecting and not enough equipment. Working as a team, we quickly adapted to this situation and were able to effectively deliver the session that all of the children (as well as ourselves) enjoyed. These experiences have helped me grow confidence in my own abilities, which again has set me in good stead to deal with other unknown or challenging situations in a work environment.

Simply put, just do it! You will learn so much about yourself and what you can achieve through putting yourself outside of your comfort zone. Being involved with the Leadership Academy gives you the opportunity to share your sport and have a lasting impact not only on the children you coach, but yourself too. You may even find a new career direction you never knew you were interested in!

Laura Outhwaite, PhD Psychology

Getting involved in sport, via the Leadership Academy, joining a club or enjoying casual competition with friends can help you when it comes to thinking about your future. Remember to reflect on your sporting experiences. If you are interested in finding out more about the Leadership Academy, contact our Sports Volunteering Officer, Sharen Morgan: sharen.morgan@nottingham.ac.uk 

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