Real world experience and employability are instrumental in everything we do here in the Department of Sport and Physical Activity. We work hard to ensure that all our students graduate with the key skills, knowledge and experience needed to achieve their career goals.
Throughout your degree, you’ll get opportunities to test yourself in research projects and work placements – last year, we had over 300 placements available in a range of settings, including national sports teams, local clubs, schools, and community sport and health organisations.
Your interests and career aspirations are an important factor when it comes to finding the right match for a work placement, and staff in the Department work closely with our Employability, Enterprise, Engagement and Impact (E3i) team to ensure students have access to fantastic placement opportunities. This collaborative team works hard behind the scenes, developing contacts and liaising with organisations to arrange placements for our students.
We had a chat with some of our colleagues involved in student placements, to find out more about the different type of opportunities available and what students enjoy most about their placements.
Cam Osborne completed his work placement with Wigan Warriors Rugby League Football Club.
What did your placement involve?
I was a digital communications intern, responsible for social media and helping expand the digital marketing presence of the club’s Community Foundation. This involved attending a lot of really fun events.
How did you hear about the opportunity?
My personal tutor and I sat down and discussed what kind of placement I was looking for and what I wanted to get out of it. He then helped me on my search, and we found the advert for the placement at Wigan Warriors.
What was your most memorable moment at Wigan Warriors?
I helped out at a half-term training camp, where I got to meet a lot of the players and even interview a few of them! I also got to meet all the senior staff – everyone was really welcoming and I learnt a lot speaking to them about how they ran their organisation. By the end of those first 2 days, I felt like I was really part of the team.
Ollie Wakefield completed his work placement with Merseyside Sports Partnership (MSP).
What did your placement involve?
After some initial work shadowing, I started to assist my supervisor with her day to day tasks. One of my main tasks was ensuring that all of MSP’s activities with their partner schools were being entered accurately into the database. I was also asked to conduct research to find out how local schools were choosing to spend their PE and school sport premium, identifying potential areas of expansion for MSP.
What are the top 3 skills you developed during your placement?
• Using my initiative
• Not being afraid to ask questions!
What are your career aspirations?
My experience at MSP has confirmed that I would like to work in the sport development sector and try to improve societal concerns through the use of sport and physical activity. The placement gave me first hand experience of the difference this type of work can make, which I found really encouraging.
Placement settings are wide-ranging, and students tend to choose their placements based on their modules or areas of interest. For those interested in working with athletes or sports teams, we have links with a number of sports clubs such as Wigan Warriors Rugby League Club, Liverpool Women’s Football Club, St Helens Rugby League Club and Everton Football Club. For students interested in working in a clinical health or physical activity setting, our partners at Liverpool Heart and Chest hospital offer a range of placements.
Students from all programmes are enthusiastic about getting involved in opportunities with our partners at Everton in the Community, where we work with them on a number of projects that aim to promote positive mental health amongst people in the local community through sport. Placements with Everton in the Community can offer the opportunity to deliver sessions in schools across Merseyside and Lancashire, so these placements are great for those looking to get experience in schools. These are just a few of the organisations that offer student placements – there are many more available, and students often reach out to organisations that they are interested in working with, which we are able to support with too.
It depends on whether a student is undertaking a formal placement as part of one of their modules, or a voluntary placement alongside their academic study. Formal placements typically take place in the third year of study, and have a minimum requirement of 40 hours in total. Students complete these hours around their academic timetable, and the weekly hours are agreed with their placement provider.
The majority of our students complete their placements over one or two days per week until their hours are complete. Students can continue their placement above the minimum of 40 hours if their organisation is able to accommodate them. This is a fantastic way to build experience and skills, and helps students stand out from the crowd when they apply for graduate jobs. We encourage students to undertake additional, voluntary work experience wherever possible, and completing as little as 2-4 hours per week with an organisation can provide invaluable real-life experience.
Personal tutors have regular conversations with students about their interests and career aspirations, and students can express their interest in particular areas during their one to one discussions. Once a student has been matched with a placement setting, they are put in contact with a named person at their placement provider who will be their supervisor and mentor throughout the placement.
Staff here in the Department of Sport and Physical Activity act as dedicated placement coordinators, supporting their students whilst out on placement by offering advice and guidance. They are also on hand to visit students at their placement settings, to see how they are getting on and to put support in place if needed. Students are given a mixture of formative and summative feedback from both their placement supervisor and coordinator, providing them with constructive feedback throughout the placement. Personal tutors will also keep in touch with students during their placement. This helps to encourage students to reflect on the skills and experience they are developing, and how the placement is helping them to shape their career plans.
Conversations about career planning throughout the placement experience is fundamental to the success of our graduates. There is also financial support, as students are reimbursed for their travel expenses for their first 40 hours at their placement setting.
January 13, 2023