Parkwood Leisure case study

Work experience details

  • Organisation: Parkwood Leisure
  • Contact name: Kayleigh Smith, HR Administrator
  • Placement student name: Elliot Harris, second year BSc Sport & Exercise Science
  • Placement title: Leisure Industry Placement
  • Dates of placement: January – April 2013

Nature of the business

Parkwood Leisure is a subsidiary of Parkwood Holdings PLC - a leading provider of support services to public and private sector clients. The Group employs over 6,000 people throughout the UK providing services which include Grounds Management, Leisure Management, Healthcare and management of PFI projects. All of Parkwood’s individual companies offer high levels of service, specialist knowledge and management expertise. Parkwood is committed to the aims of its clients and developing long term, added value relationships. Parkwood's financial strength enables the continuous investment in its business and employees, whilst guaranteeing a return to its shareholders. At the same time Parkwood is fully committed to its social responsibilities and the delivery of quality public services.

Brief description of work experience opportunity

University students can take the opportunity of applying to us for any of our career schemes, placement or case study opportunities. Our Companies welcome placements and we provide opportunities for students to work with us for short or long term periods in different disciplines across the business.

Projects: An opportunity to work with us on a project is something that we are keen to facilitate and would be perfect for dissertations required for undergraduate or postgraduate courses. If you are a University and would like to contact us regarding any of the above information, or would like to register your interest in working with us please contact our HR team by using the enquiry form and leaving your contact details.

Interview with intern

Elliot Harris, 2nd year BSc Sport & Exercise Science

What made you apply for the opportunity?

Elliot Harris at Parkwood Leisure

The project at Parkwood was basically a work shadowing opportunity that was set up between me and the manager. It started by me applying to them with specific interests (using exercise as a tool to rehabilitate those that suffered from a variety of different health complications & to gain a more in depth idea of what working in a leisure industry would be like). I applied for the position which was advertised on Careers Network’s “Careers Connect” database. It was also brought to our attention in a lecture during our second year. Upon reading the description it gave me scope to apply speculatively to see if they could cater for my interests in any way.

After emailing the manager with my interests, they suggested that I'd shadow 3 different personal trainers who were chosen to implement a council health initiative. I observed Kim (a personal trainer) during her individual meetings with clients who were prescribed to exercise a minimum of 3 times per week for 12 weeks at a reduced membership fee within the gym. I sat-in on preliminary health checks and engaged with the participants of the council initiative during their exercise sessions. (The exercise they performed was tailored to the individual requirements of the participant).

What were your preconceptions before starting the placement and what are / were your first impressions?

My preconceptions before the placement were that I'd be working for a national leisure company and would gain experiences that would benefit me in graduate recruitment. My main reasoning behind applying and undertaking the placement was to gain a "taster" as to whether this was the right potential career path for me.

What did you hope to develop during the placement (in terms both of any specific understanding and also any employability skills that you wished to develop)?

I hoped to gain an insight into the leisure industry; specifically the way in which government health initiatives were implemented and the public's belief of the programs. I hoped that it would also allow me to express willingness to apply my knowledge from my course to a working situation. It would also show time-management skills through studying, attending lectures and juggling a placement.

What were your first impressions?

My first impressions were that the company was run in an approachable and supportive manner. The staff were all very helpful and the manager appeared to have a keen interest in providing me with any support that was necessary.

Please provide an outline of the activities you undertook during your placement

My placement consisted of shadowing qualified personal trainers during the implementation of an exercise referral scheme. I observed their office work, clinic meetings with a variety of patients suffering from a variety of health implications such as obesity, diabetes and osteoporosis. I also participated in a water aerobics class with a physiotherapist. I also participated in water-aerobics classes with an external physiotherapist. I couldn't advise the participants on which exercise to do as I'm not qualified to do so, so it was solely a shadowing experience with no duties.

Please provide an overview of your progress as you have gone through the placement (what you are up to, how the tasks are going, what support you’re getting, what the rest of the office team are like)

There wasn't much progress of duties as I wasn't legally allowed to give advice or physically train participants but it provided a good insight into the leisure industry.

Your thoughts at the end (how it went, whether it met your expectations, were your preconceptions appropriate or naïve, how it may have influenced your outlook with a view to graduate career options and working in this sector)

At the end of the placement it provided me with insight rather than hands-on skills that I could apply. Overall it was an enjoyable experience and one I'd recommend to peers. It may have been even more beneficial if I could have got involved more; I think that would have been possible if I'd had REPs qualifications in fitness training or wanted a more business & admin side of the leisure industry.

What would you encourage any of your peers seeking similar opportunities next year to consider (in terms of application and also what to do when undertaking a placement)?

Parkwood Leisure provided very flexible options with regards to sorting out my project. The correspondence was very quick and professional. They've provided me with a work reference for my CV and the experience will help me decide which area of graduate work or research I'd like to enter once I finish my final year. I'd advise people to apply to the position with clear goals prior to the application process. I’d advise students to check Careers Network’s “Careers Connect” database and also to use Careers Network’s services, which benefited me greatly last year with the whole process.

Posted on Friday 22nd November 2013