By Lauren Smith
As a Sport: Coaching and Development Distance Learning Student, I applied for my internship somewhere between Levels 4 and 5 of study. The decision to undertake a Rise Research Internship came from a desire to attain the necessary work experience to enter employment in the sports development sector at the end of my degree in 2025. I also wanted to begin exploring the career pathways that may be available at the end of my studies to help me identify the career I’d like to aspire to short, medium, and long term. I chose to apply for the Lawn Tennis Association internship for two reasons. Firstly, the internship utilised flexible working, meaning I could fit it around my studies and a full-time job as an HLTA at an SEN Highschool. More importantly, despite not having a tennis background, the objective of the internship was to research Diversity and Inclusion, an area of personal interest.
The internship required two other students and me to work collaboratively to develop a concise overview of effective population engagement in tennis in three key diversity groups: Race, Religion and Ethnicity, LGBTQ+, and Mental Health. Finding examples of peer-reviewed evidence-based practice specific to tennis proved to be challenging. Nonetheless, as a team, we were able to overcome the difficulties encountered and produced a comprehensive presentation with supporting case studies, therefore, fulfilling the brief set by the LTA.
Whilst there are clear benefits to undertaking internships to develop industry experience, I feel the greatest enhancements can be found in my personal skill set of soft skills. I developed soft skills such as working collaboratively; presenting concise, professional, and engaging presentations (particularly to a large-scale organisation); and identifying meaningful insights, focusing on these confidently.
As a result of my participation in the internship, I gained experience working in a research role for a National Governing Body. I was also encouraged to apply for a position within the LTA after our first meeting. Despite being underqualified, concerning industry qualifications and experience, I was invited to interview and subsequently appointed to the role. This instance highlighted and proved the importance of interpersonal and soft skills.
I would highly recommend Rise Research Internships to everyone that wants to explore their employability options or considering a research career. You will gain relevant industry experience and soft skills that apply to a wide range of fields. You will even develop professional networking that can be important for you future career steps!