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Gus Withers

Career Path: Graduate Scheme, Events of the North
Location: Newcastle upon Tyne, UK

What are you doing now?

I am currently working full-time at Events of The North, on a graduate scheme. The company predominantly focuses on running events, and despite its name, now hosts events all over the country.

What was it about Northumbria that made you decide to study here?

Great reviews of the Sport Management course initially brought me up from Essex to view the Uni. The open day itself had a talk from Sport Management staff, who spoke about the value of the course within the industry, and they seemed very passionate about wanting the best for students. Also, Northumbria is based within a great city, with many great aspects such as its love for sport, nightlife, restaurants, and cool cafes!A man with black hair smiling. He is in a checked shirt with his elbows on a table with one hand on top of the other.

What was it like studying at Northumbria?

Initially, I found the studying a challenge. Trying to balance moving to a new part of the country, a social life, sport and Uni work was stressful. However, the staff on the course always offered their support, and a few chats with staff members relieved the stresses allowing me to start to enjoy the beginning of the journey. I thought the educational facilities provided were also great, with a large library, and multiple other learning spaces, which benefited my studies positively. Overall, I enjoyed studying at Northumbria as you’re surrounded by like-minded people, who all want the best for one another.

How connected was your course with industry?

In my opinion, the course was very connected with the industry. It had multiple talks with different types of professionals, such as journalists, event staff and sports people. It was through one of these talks in first year, that I initially got in touch with the Events of The North director. Also, within the second year of the Sport Management course, there is a 3-month placement that needs to be completed within a sports organisation. Again, this provides an opportunity to make contacts within the industry, and to see first-hand, how different parts of the sport industry operate.

How did your placement help you with your future career, as well as with your studies?

I undertook my placement at Events of The North. It allowed both myself, and Events of The North to see whether we were right for each other in terms of was I suitable for their organistion, and were they appropriate for what I wanted? It allowed them to see what I could bring to the organistion if they wanted to employ me full time post-graduation.

What was the best thing about your course?

For me, there’s three things - the opportunities the course provides, the friends you make, and the staff.

How did studying at Northumbria help you achieve your career goals?

If I never studied at Northumbria, I would never have ended up working for one of the biggest running event organisations in the country. It has provided me with contacts which I can use going forward.

Which skills/knowledge did you learn on your course that you use most now throughout your career?

The importance of planning for as many different scenarios that can occur. As part of the event module, we had to continually change our proposed event due to reasons out of our hands and had to plan for contingencies. Within Events of The North, due to reasons out of our hands again, we had to cancel a Triathlon, but due to good planning, we turned this event into a larger duathlon, allowing participants to still compete.

What did you enjoy most about your time at Northumbria University?

Meeting different people, from different backgrounds, who have all ended up at the same place at the same point of time. The access to different sports clubs too. It allowed me to work at St James’ Park, join Gateshead Harriers AC as a keen runner, and become more independent and grown up.

Why did you become a member of the Alumni association?

It’s always good to stay connected with an organisation that continually posts opportunities for work. Also, as a previous student, I know that undergraduates use alumni to try and gain work, or placement opportunities. When I’ve messaged alumni previously, I’ve been ignored. Although, unlikely to happen, if a student ever messaged me, I would like to offer them any help that they need.

Based on your experience, what advice would you give to other Northumbria graduates?

Take as many opportunities as you can, without it having a negative impact on your studies. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, email organisations and use the staff! Remember to have fun too. Grades are important, but not as important as your well-being and being happy!

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