Activate Sport

Work experience details

  • Organisation: Activate Sport, Projects Nationwide
  • Contact name: Tom Swainston, Project Manager
  • Placement student name: Alice Page, 2nd year BA Sport, PE + Coaching Science student
  • Placement title: Paid student placements
  • Dates of placement: July – August 2013

Nature of the business

Activate Sport Management is an innovative sport and entertainment consultants, covering grassroots development, community projects, talent management, professional services, corporate events and public relations. Activate Sport is one of the largest providers of sport, activity and adventure holiday courses in the UK, with over 200 multi-sport and sport-specific courses every year.

Brief description of opportunity

We have several positions available on different courses throughout the country. These roles include:

  • Camp Manager – An organised individual who is responsible for dealing with coaches, parents, children and Activate Management throughout the camp. The main role of the camp manager is to ensure all paperwork is complete and up to date, as well as maintain the smooth running of the course.
  • Head Coach – A qualified and experienced coach who will be in charge of a team of coaches and all matters to do with the coaching programme on the course.
  • Coach – A qualified, dynamic, motivated and experienced person who wishes to create fun and educational sessions that their group will learn and develop through.
  • Activity Leader / Instructor – An experienced person who wishes to create fun and educational sessions that their group will learn and develop through.
  • Assistant Coach - An individual who is enthusiastic about the sport and looking to further their development working alongside more experienced and qualified coaches.
  • Volunteer / Work Experience – Individuals who wish to gain experience in the sports industry by working on our courses.

Interview with intern

Alice Page, Activate Sport Coach, summer 2013 

What made you apply for the opportunity?

I received an email through the Uni and my course, SPECS, and it seemed like a perfect job for me. I was looking for coaching experiences outside of schools and I also needed employment for the summer so it was ideal.

What were your preconceptions before starting the placement?

I expected a light-hearted but professional atmosphere.

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

I expected to work with people with similar personalities to me, sometimes a benefit but sometimes a challenge! I wanted to expand my people skills and learn how a company works in this field. I also wanted to build up my coaching abilities and to learn new activities to use in sessions and teaching sports.

What are / were your first impressions?

A really friendly company who had very good aims and views on running camps and there was a good energy amongst the team running the interview day

Please provide an outline of your duties

I was a coach on Multi-Activity, Gold Medal and Hockey Masterclass camps. This ranged from casual activities to sport-specific sessions and with a range of ages (7-9,7-8, 5-7). I had to plan and carry out sessions, as well as safeguard the children throughout the week. I also provided assistance to other coaches and to the Camp Leader.

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 team are like)

I have finished my summer work with the company, although I hope to continue working with Activate Sport in the Easter and Summer Holidays of 2014. The teams I have worked with have been informed, professional and really easy to get on with. They were open to criticisms and gave good suggestions for my own development as a coach.

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)

Working for Activate Sport was an amazing experience and I have met some great people this summer. It has given me a big boost of confidence in my coaching and I have learnt a lot in terms of sessions to run, how to organise and control a group of children as well as own personal developments on patience and communication with new team mates. It was a lot of hard work and sometimes, with certain 'difficult' children, it got exhausting; but it was all very beneficial.

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)?

I would definitely recommend working for Activate Sport to my friends if I thought it would suit them. I would not suggest it to people who were unsure if they enjoy coaching as it could be full on for a newcomer to coaching. Also for people who are not a fan of children I definitely would not recommend the experience. However it is a massive opportunity to meet great people, and learn and develop new skills.

Interview with employer

Tom Swainston, Activate Sport's project manager

Tom Swainston - Activate Sports

What was your rationale for offering work experience placements to University of Birmingham students?

We look to find the best ways to reach out to a large number of coaches through one medium. Universities are a great way for us to recruit coaches because most students are looking for seasonal work while they are not at university. We chose to contact the University of Birmingham because of the great all round package the University could offer us in terms of recruitment as it allowed us to run our interview and training days on campus too.

What kinds of projects did your placement student work on/what duties did they perform?

The students worked on summer camps in a coach or camp manager capacity. The coaches planned and delivered fun and educational sports coaching sessions relevant to the type of week they worked on. Coaches were responsible for up to 12 children in their group for the whole day. Camp Managers were in charge of the whole camp including risk management, daily timetables, behaviour management, parent relations and the other coaches.

How did it benefit your business to take on a work experience student?

As our employment is mainly on a seasonal basis it can be hard to find staff who are available to work for such a small period of time without a long the security of a full time/permanent contract. Students are ideal as they are only looking for work to fill their summer period.

How well did the intern fit in with established employees?

The students are always very keen to learn from established coaches who have worked within our company for many years, this means that the students fit in very well and can even teach the established employees some new tricks as well.

Are there any employability skills which you observed that the interns exhibited?

The main employability skill that has been displayed time and time again during the summer by the UoB students is problem solving, the students faced many issues each day within their coaching group/sessions and often managed to identify and remedy an issue very quickly.

Based on your experience, what advice would you give to students or employers considering work experience placements or internships?

I think work experience placements set students up for life after University, most employers are looking for some form of work experience in the relevant field before employing and even if it is 4 weeks over the summer, it puts the student in a much greater position than a similar applicant with no experience.

Would you recommend offering placements to University of Birmingham students to others?

Yes, I have been very impressed with the standard of UoB students.

Based on the experience of interns from the University of Birmingham, are you satisfied that the University of Birmingham is helping to provide its students and graduates with the skills and aptitudes required in today’s careers?


Any other comments?

I have booked in for the next recruitment fair at UoB already!

Posted on Wednesday 6th November 2013