After going through Clearing, Richard graduated from the University of Bedfordshire with a BSc in Sport and Exercise Science. He's now research officer for the International Tennis Federation (ITF)
How did you feel on A-level results day?
Disappointed would be an understatement. My whole family had been to university and I had my heart set on it, so the idea that I may not have that opportunity really worried me.
Fortunately, I decided to explore other opportunities, and discovered the University of Bedfordshire through Clearing. I was hugely relieved when I received my offer.
How do you feel about Clearing now and the new direction it took you in?
The decision to go to university was the best I ever made. It changed me as a person, both personally and professionally, and opened up so many doors. I was able to meet loads of people through attending conferences with my university and through the industry experience my course provided.
Looking back, I can't imagine what I'd be doing if I'd not persisted with the idea of higher education when I realised I wasn't going to be able to attend my first choice university.
Was your degree essential for the job?
Absolutely. I'm using the knowledge I gained at university in my day-to-day tasks. For example, my understanding of scientific research writing has helped me with reviewing research articles. Similarly, my knowledge of performance sport and exercise has been beneficial when I'm putting together the coaching content for ITF's resources.
What are your main tasks in your current role?
Predominantly, I'm helping to put together coaching and sport science resources for Tennis iCoach - the ITF's official online coaching and sport science resources website. I also help with editing the ITF Coaching and Sport Science Review, run the ITF eBooks app and assist with organising ITF regional and worldwide coaches conferences and courses.
How has your role developed and what are your career ambitions?
I've had the added responsibility of coordinating the entire Tennis iCoach platform. This has meant managing the content, budget, website development and liaising with national associations. I also help other members of the tennis development department with tennis participation projects. This has included research projects with other international federations.
In terms of career development, I'd like to stay within tennis and help to develop the sport as long as I can.
What are the challenges?
Knowing how to prioritise projects and workload has probably been my biggest challenge. Also, being able to liaise with and create good relationships with national tennis associations around the world - and with international coaches and industry experts.
What advice would you give to other students looking to work in sport?
Try to get experience in a sports development department locally - whether that's voluntary, shadowing or an internship. Research the industry and what's required for the roles that you're after.
The sports industry is competitive and always developing, so make sure you keep up with the latest research and news.
Also, stay positive. It can be disheartening sometimes not getting the positions or outcomes you want when you ask for things, but keep talking to contacts in the industry and asking for advice or experience. If you don't ask, you don't get.