Ulster University helped me achieve my current career success by...
offering me a tremendous insight into the possibilities surrounding the sports industry, including research and teaching, through excellent programmes of study at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels.
Activities I was involved in at Ulster to enhance my employability
For me my placement experience, which I undertook at Gleneagles Hotel, Scotland, in 1995 was completely transformative. The absolute focus upon providing a quality experience for the consumer is something that has stayed with me over the twenty years since those 12 months I spent in the 5 Star environment.
Coaching, volunteering and playing sport were also crucially important.
How placement enhanced my employability
Simply being able to refer to prior teaching and research experience in an interview setting, citing examples and case studies, through opportunities I had availed of during my PhD studies, was an investment into my initial step on to the career ladder that I have only fully appreciated later on.
How study abroad enhanced my employability
I have quite a bit of international research experience and whilst not directly achieved whilst a student at Ulster, the international perspective is crucial in the modern working environment.
Top 3 most significant steps on my career path so far
- As I've already mentioned, taking the placement opportunity at Gleneagles established in me a continual need to meet and surpass expectations, which is something I've been able to apply in a whole range of settings ever since.
- Applying for, and then undertaking, a PhD was something I considered to be quite a risk at the time. There was a danger that this decision was taking me very much in the direction of academia at a time when the prospective of employment in that field was low.
- Finally, the role I'm in at present (HOS) was one that attracted me as I saw it, principally, as an opportunity to give something back to the department and the University that had, at various times, supported my own development. I'm a firm believer in paying back and paying forward.
What would your advice to students be?
Say 'Yes' - you can always say 'no' later - but if you're first answer to an opportunity, including one that might initially be unappealing, is 'no' then there's nowhere to go from there.
Secondly, there is always something you can do to move your situation on - keep asking yourself how you can improve and become better at what you're doing. Ask people simply 'What can I do to be better?' and, people being people, they'll be very happy to oblige!