Case study

Club and community development officer — Calum

Calum works for a busy local rugby club in the Scottish Borders and thinks work experience is key to getting a job

How did you get your job?

By the time I was employed in a full-time development role I had roughly two years' experience working for a local authority in a community coach role, first as a volunteer and then being paid an hourly rate. This work experience was one of the most important steps to finding employment - nowadays just having a degree in a related field is not enough.

Spending each day improving a sport I love is very rewarding

How relevant is your degree to your job?

My undergraduate degree was in film and media studies, which does not have much relevance to my current role. However my MSc in Sports Management was far more applicable. Degrees in their nature tend to only have time to scratch the surface of everything so while having a degree will give you a good basis, it isn't a substitute for work experience.

What are your main work activities?

Days can be extremely varied in my role. During primary school blocks of rugby I am often spending large amounts of time doing the actual delivery of rugby sessions. Downtime from this during the day and evenings is taken up with club-based activities like youth training, organising coach education courses, helping and managing your volunteer coaches and reporting back to your managers and the club committee.

How has your role developed and what are your career ambitions?

Whilst the school programme doesn't differ greatly from year to year my role within the club is constantly changing. With around 250 youngsters varying in ages between 4 and 18 my job is to help every youngster achieve his or her own maximum rugby potential. You don't have time to work with each individual so this is achieved by introducing programmes and educating coaches to the highest possible standard so they all get access to good quality coaching and training. Once a programme has been successfully implemented you'll have to move on to planning and executing improvement elsewhere in the club.

Long term I would like to work in partnership management. Jobs within sport are highly dependent on funding for the posts; the more money and funding found, the more sporting posts and the more sporting opportunities.

What do you enjoy about your job?

One of the most enjoyable parts of my job is working every day with people as passionate about sport as I am. Whether it is a participant, a parent, a volunteer coach or a colleague, 99% are involved because they love sport and in general we are all striving to achieve the same thing. As a rugby player myself, spending each day improving a sport I love is very rewarding.

What are the most challenging parts of your job?

I find working primarily with volunteers can be challenging. It can be difficult to find the balance between promoting improvement amongst your volunteers and having reasonable expectation of how much you can ask of them. Every volunteer is an individual and very different and you don't want to alienate people by pushing them too hard.

Any words of advice for someone who wants to get into this job?

If you are keen to secure a job in this field you must be passionate about all things sport. It is what will get you a role in the first place and once in position the job will often call you to work well above and beyond the 9 to 5 routine, so you need to really care about the sport first and foremost.