Having recently – and rather unwittingly – ventured into my late-thirties, I’m at least able to look back fondly on a few interesting career moves I’ve been accustomed to over the years.
Growing up in the South Yorkshire mining town of Doncaster during the 1980s and ‘90s, I was all too aware of the prominent Belles – a women’s football team who were winning every trophy going. They were my idols.
I remember watching from the stands as a youngster, my eyes the size of saucers as I cheered on my heroes, Gill Coultard and Karen Walker, who toppled teams up and down the country with ease.
And that’s all I ever wanted to be when I was younger – a footballer… or Quentin Blake’s apprentice, but I’ll focus on the former for now.
I managed to make it into the Belles’ junior teams, featuring for the under-14s and 16s as a left-winger. But, sadly, I wasn’t talented enough and the dream of transforming into a full-time professional simply wasn’t an option back in the 1990s – especially with the lack of funding behind the sport.
However, let’s not make this more tragic than it needs to be. What I did glean from this experience was how it opened my mind up to a wealth of other – more realistic – job opportunities, spanning several sectors, and learning a vast amount from each.
But, I won’t take you through the very first job I had – which technically was picking rose petals from old flowers, and recycling them – I’ll instead divulge the details about my first ‘proper job’.
After university – where I studied sport and media – I wanted to do something that challenged me, but I didn’t exactly know what that was.
Turning a love of sport into a career
I knew I liked people, and loved hearing their inspiring, thought-provoking stories, and talking about their trials and tribulations of life.
A huge opportunity came my way whilst I was writing one of my many match reports on Tadcaster Albion LFC’s, which I would send to the Wetherby News’ sportsdesk.
The editor, at the time, told me about the National Council for the Training of Journalists certificate and – with his crucial advice – my application was submitted, and I was studying at Sheffield’s Norton College a few months later.
From learning how to write the perfect splash, to achieving 100 words per minute in shorthand and swotting up on media law, my academic year provided me with the fire in my belly to go into journalism full-time.
I moved to Weston-super-Mare to work for the local newspaper – it was one of the toughest introductions to a career that I’ve ever experienced. My days spilled into pressure-fuelled all-nighters, in order to file copy on community successes, court indiscretions and council meetings.