09 May 2019

Back in the 2015/2016 academic year, I was a young athlete who was applying for university courses whilst strategically balancing my school commitments, academic endeavours and sporting goals. Quite early on, I had set my sights on Sport and Social Science at the University of Bath. One of the main things that stuck out to me after attending an applicant’s day was the opportunity to undertake a professional placement in the third year of the programme.

At the time I couldn’t have imagined myself in a professional work environment, I was nervous about making the leap from the comfortable school environment in London to the unknown student universe. Right from the off, the teaching staff and the placements team did their very best at informing us about the outrageously competitive job market, and how we needed to be extremely proactive to give ourselves an “edge” when we graduate. But it is difficult to put your foot out the door and gain experience when most places are looking for an already experienced individual.

This is why it is so important that organisations are willing to give young people the opportunity to learn, to develop their professional identities, and to gain experience in the everyday life of the field that they wish to pursue.

…if there’s one thing that I have learned, it’s to be pro-active and confident in yourself. You aren’t going to know what you are doing at times, but you’re always learning.

I was lucky enough to undertake my placement year at London Youth, working in the Sports and Culture Team. There are a lot of things I will be taking away, as I go back to the lecture halls and library to finish off my degree (or more likely the Sports facilities to distract me from my degree!). I will take with me the newfound interest and inside knowledge of the unpredictable world of youth work, and the positive impact that physical activity has on a young person’s life. I have enjoyed getting out and about and meeting people, seeing the work that is being done by youth organisations across London, and seeing the opportunities that are being created and provided to young Londoners.

It’s hard to say that my experience matched my expectations, as I honestly didn’t know what to expect at all when I came in for the first time and sat in on the Sports and Culture team meeting. But if there’s one thing that I have learned, it’s to be pro-active and confident in yourself. You aren’t going to know what you are doing at times, but you’re always learning. It’s ok to ask questions and rely on your team, especially in the beginning. If you go through each day seeing everything as an opportunity to try something new, you will learn a lot more than you set out to.

Thank you, London Youth, for giving me the chance to develop my professional identity and for giving me a taste of the real adult world (as opposed to the student adult world!), and thank you to my team (Zoe, John, Jas, Andy and Emily) for looking after me so well for the last 9 months, I owe you all a lot!

– Emma, Sports and Culture Team Learning Assistant


Find out more about our Sports Development programme here and our Arts and Culture programme here.

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