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Alice Harkness

BSc Applied Sport Science with Coaching

HLS_Northumbria -University -Student _Alice -Harkness _Applied -Sport -Science -Coaching

Where are you from?

Coleraine, Northern Ireland

Why did you choose Northumbria University, Newcastle?

It was the only university which offered the course I wanted, and also had outstanding sporting facilities and teams. At the time, I was unsure of whether I wanted to pursue either coaching or sports science, and this course provided me the option of pursuing both, without having to specialise in one. As I said the sports facilities are excellent, if you are even slightly interested in sports, this university has some of the best facilities for both playing sport and sport courses.

What do you think of Newcastle and our region and what are your favourite things to do?

I love Newcastle, if you're not from here you probably won't have experienced how welcoming the Geordies are, but it's true. This area is great because there is so much to do, there's something here for everyone. You've got some of the best shopping in the UK, great nightlife, fantastic sports teams, and some breathtaking scenery. Whatever you're into, you can guarantee you can do it here. Personally, I love how close we are to the beach, it reminds me of home.

What has surprised you most about living in Newcastle and this region? What has impressed you most?

The opportunities that are available to students. Before I came over I heard that there are greater opportunities down South than in the North. But this university is so well embedded into the community, big local sporting organisations and charitable organisations, to provide unique opportunities for placements and work experience that gives you an edge in your career. I think that looking back, the amount of opportunities available across your three years here at Northumbria; in placements, volunteering or internships, is the most impressive for me. You don't realise how much you need these and how thankful you are for them until you're getting ready to graduate.

Did you find Northumbria University welcoming? Was it easy to fit in?

Yes, very welcoming, the staff are great, they really helped ease the transition. Everyone is in the same situation, and it's scary at first, but it almost makes it easier.

What have you enjoyed most about coming to Northumbria University?

My sporting experiences over the three years. I have competed for Northumbria in six different sports in BUCS competitions, from football, futsal and volleyball I have had the honour of reaching six BUCS finals and winning 5 gold medals, and I have also played 24 hours of netball in a fundraising event for Northumbria Sport Foundation's Zambia Project. I know that I would not have been able to have this much success in my sporting career or as much enjoyment at any other university. The course has been fantastic, but it's the extra things you do at university which make your time memorable.

Who has helped you most since you came to Northumbria?

There are a lot of people who played a big part in how far I have come. My friends and family, pariticularly throughout my final year. But also my guidance tutor, Su Stewart, who was always there regardless of the issue, and Angela Hibbs who has helped provide me with invaluable experience and contacts to pursue a career in performance analysis. It's important while you're here to really get to know staff, because they can be invaluable in helping you get the contacts or experience you need for your career.

Who has inspired you most at Northumbria University?

There hasn't been one person, rather a lot of people that have been inspirations for my academic work, sporting career and personal life throughout my three years here.

What is your favourite place on campus?

My favourite place is Sport Central, it's somewhere I can go to just get away from the stress of everything. There are loads of great facilities on campus though so there is something there for eveyone.

Have you joined any sports teams, clubs or been involved in any volunteer projects? Tells us about the highlights?

Over my three years I've captained the Women's 1st Football and 1st Futsal teams, and played for Women's Volleyball, Lacrosse, Rugby 7's, and Cricket. The highlights definitely are reaching six BUCS finals, and winning 5 gold medals across football, futsal and volleyball. I've also been a volunteer with Team Northumbria as a GPS Data Analyst.  It's been a busy three years!

What is the best thing about your course?

The versatility in the modules. It's perfect because you really get an opportunity to see all the disciplines available in sports science before you need to choose your placement or dissertation topic. I also loved having the opportunity to choose which modules I wanted to study after first year, and completing shorter semester-long modules like strength and conditioning and performance analysis.

What are the most valuable lessons you have learnt to date?

Originally I applied for a final year placement, but following the interviews I didn't get it. I applied for a different placement, at Prozone, which I was successful, and with the experience I gained I was able to to get three analyst roles across the year. It was difficult being rejected from my first placement, but I feel that I have developed greater as an individual and an analyst from the experience. This has to be the most valuable lesson for me, don't just give up if something doesn't go your way at university, if you work hard enough, you can create something better from the experience.

What do you want to do in the future? What skills have you learned/improved that you think will be of most use in your future career?

I want to pursue a career in performance analysis, hopefully in football. Some of the most important skills I have developed through my course are my time management, organisation and communication skills, and my placement has developed specific analyst skills. I think the most important attribute I have developed over my course is determination, which is really important when graduating with so many others who have a sport science degree.

Have you worked on any projects with businesses or been on a placement? What were your most memorable experiences?

I carried out my final year placement at Prozone Sports, which is a performance analysis company which mainly works with football and rugby. This was an unbelievable experience, and one which built a solid foundation for me to pursue a career in performance analysis. The entire experience was memorable, and just knowing that the opportunity is something that not many graduates have was fantastic, I knew that it was something to give me an edge.

If you could offer some advice to students thinking of coming to study here what would you say?

Immerse yourself in as much of the volunteering, internships, activities, sports, or societies there are going. I've became close friends with people I never would have talked to, and learnt the most from things I never would have done before university. Don't be scared, throw yourself into every opportunity, because there are so many here if you just look for them! Those extra experiences really add to what you take from university.

How do you feel you have changed as a person since being at Northumbria University, Newcastle (e.g. confidence)?

Over the past three years I have developed massively as a person and as a student. When I first came I could hardly be understood with my accent, I struggled to deliver presentations, and I was not confident about my communication. Now I'm graduating, I can deliver individual presentations and interviews with confidence. This has to be the most notable change for me, the improvement in my confidence and communication.

If you had 3 words to sum up your time with us what would they be?

Unforgettable, enjoyable and advantageous.

Would you recommend Northumbria University to a friend?

Yes, definitely!

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