I began applying for jobs everywhere as soon as I turned 15 - with a handy little First Aid Certificate that set me apart from all the other fresh-faced teens.
I decided that I wanted to work at my local football club canteen, because I lived close and I was pretty much there all the time anyway, watching my brother play.
When I sent an enquiry email I included my First Aid information, just in case it gave me an edge.
Next I got this email that blew my mind. I was being offered a job as a sports trainer, so long as I attended another course with Sports Medicine Australia.
The term 'sports trainer’ confused me, I had no idea what it meant. I found out they work with sports teams, managing injuries, as well as doing taping and massage.
This sounded awesome, but also well out of my league. However, another sports trainer, Kirsty, said that I should just believe in myself and go for it, despite my age.
I completed a course with people at least five years older than me and began work at the start of the football season. It was sooo intimidating at first. I attend an all girls school and it was a shock to work with more than twenty men at a time.
But all of them were nice and understanding and I found myself really enjoying it. I never thought I could actually love what I do at such a young age. I had expected to be working a shift just for the money, but I grew to really love the work and care about the players I was looking after.
However my confidence took a beating when I started to train the juniors on Sundays. My job was just to be there if the parent trainers needed any extra assistance, but some parents didn’t understand my job very well.
Some of them got angry because I wasn’t a paramedic or a doctor. Others were friendly until they learnt how old I was and so trusted me less. One parent went so far as to yell about my inability to do well in front of all the other parents!
Even in these difficult times, the club was behind me 100% and reassured the parents that I was a good trainer. I found that the parents who were judging me didn’t even know me, all they could focus on was my age.
I think as young people we are often faced with age discrimination but I had never seen it to such an extreme, where the parents were acting like ungrateful children. However I had some very supportive parents as well. These parents often had an occupation in a medical field and they encouraged me to explore those career paths early on. That was a bit of a confidence boost.
One year on and my work has become so much more enjoyable. Everybody trusts me now because they actually know me well and have seen me handle emergencies such as ambulance calls. It feels really awesome to have broken down those walls of discrimination. I have got a good relationship with all the parents, trainers and players, so I feel much more at home.
I would definitely recommend this job to anyone who is interested in pursuing a career in medicine or sport or even working with children, because it’s a fantastic way to get experience early on, and can help you get other jobs in the future.
I would also suggest that you have confidence in your ability and not be shaken by what others with no authority say about you. Ask lots of questions so that you are prepared for any emergency situation.
In terms of balancing, work, school, sport and having a life I would say - learn to prioritise:-
School should always come first, so make sure your work life doesn’t interfere with that.
Don’t give up your sport either, because it’ll end up being a way to mentally escape as you get higher up in school, as well as keep you healthy.
Make time for fun, but if you have a busy working weekend it’s fine to have a rest at home afterwards.
Don't feel pressured to be social all weekend because you’ll burn yourself out when you go back to school.
Make sure you are treated fairly and with respect at your workplace because you deserve to feel safe and happy and there will always be people who can help you with any issues you are having.
I am really grateful for this job because it opens up so many career paths I had not even considered until now. If I have one last piece of advice, it would be to open yourself up to new experiences because you never know what can come of them.
by Bridget Chadwick, Gen Z