April’s profile is Charlotte Hounsome. Charlotte graduated in 2013 with a BSc inSport & Exercise Health Science. She now works as a Volunteer Sports Coordinator with Global Vision International (GVI) in South Africa.
Where are you now?
At present I work for Global Vision International (GVI) as a Volunteer Sports Coordinator in Cape Town, South Africa. We are based in two townships and the sports programme operates at a primary school, where we design and lead PE lessons. We work in partnership with the school to develop the PE programme and get the teachers involved in the lessons, in order to develop their coaching skills. We strive for sustainability and hope to leave the school in a position where they can continue the programme without us, at which point we would seek for another partner to work with. We also run a surf programme as an incentive for the grade 6 students which I facilitate. My role is to ensure volunteers are getting the most out of the programme whilst on project and throughout their stay with us. I also work closely with partners to develop the projects further. The most rewarding aspect is seeing the volunteers and children develop.
How did you get there?
Throughout university I coached Netball at a local primary school. I also sought out every opportunity to explore different cultures. During the summer, after my first year of study, I taught English at a summer camp in China. The second semester of my second year I studied at Purdue University, USA and in my spare time I also backpacked various countries in Europe to gain a wider appreciation of the continent I lived in.
Whilst at university I attended career fairs and spoke to the Careers and Employability Centre about different roles in sport and formed a clear pathway in order to pursue a career in Exercise Physiology. However, at the end of my studies I realised I wanted to explore more of the world so decided to take a year out to do so. I was interested in international development from a grass routes perspective so decided to seek relevant opportunities to pursue. I was selected on to the government funded scheme International Citizen Service and volunteered for 10 weeks in Honduras (Central America) with the development charity Progressio. I was assigned project manager of the gender equality sports initiative in indigenous populations. I trained a women’s football team, created a manual which could be used to develop the programme in neighbouring communities and organised an intercommunity football tournament. Following this I saw an online advertisement for a sport coordinator role with GVI and felt with my prior experience I was ideally suited to the role.
What advice would you give to a student studying your subject at university now?
Start thinking in your first year what career you hope to pursue. Talk to an adviser about the route, then get out there and take every opportunity to further yourself. Explore potential employers and find out what experience/qualifications are desirable to them. Make sure you pick modules which are appropriate to your desired career path.
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