Swimming Instructor | Youthcentral

Lauren, 23

What's your job? Where do you work?

Back in my uni days I worked for the recreation centres operated by a local council (City of Yarra). I had several different gigs - duty manager, receptionist, lifeguard, swimming instructor. It was great to be able to work across three different centres (Richmond , Fitzroy and Collingwood) - variety is the spice of life!

Is it part-time or casual? How many hours a week do you work?

I was permanent part-time, which was great because my work commitments were set, but there was normally the opportunity to pick up extra work if I needed it.

At different stages I worked between 10 and 30 hours per week. I'm a morning person, and I would jump at the open shifts (starting at 5:30am). This meant that I could work a full 8 hours, and still finish before lunch! And all my evenings were free to play sport, run amok, oh, and study.

What does the job involve?

Each role had different responsibilities. As a swimming instructor I had small groups of students who I would splash about with for half-hour lessons, teaching and consolidating skills and safety, but having a whole lot of fun.

Lifeguarding was typically either long hours dragging your eyes across a largely empty pool, or absolute bedlam in the height of summer with the venue packed to capacity, five kids with bee stings, young people acting irresponsibly and change rooms that needed to be cleaned.

Moving into reception gave me the opportunity to develop a high-level of customer service skills, selling and processing memberships and providing information to current and prospective patrons.

As a duty manager I was responsible for all operations in the centre, from reception to the pool to the gym to group fitness classes. It is a significant responsibility and this role in particular prepared me for future career endeavours.

When you started looking for work, was this the sort of work you wanted?

Growing up in a small country town, as a high school student it was one of the only places of employment available! I felt almost obligated to put back into a community service where I had spent countless hours as a kid.

What did you have to do to apply for the job?

Lifeguard qualification - initial training through RLSSA requires three days commitment. My swimming instructor qualification (through AustSwim) required a similar amount of training followed by 20 hours of voluntary experience before certification.

Was it hard to find this kind of job?

The fitness industry is crying out for quality swimming instructors virtually all the time. It is a great way into the industry, from which you can diversify.

What are you hoping to get out of this job?

It gave me more than I could ever have hoped for. Very transferable skills, lots of opportunities, gym access (that's a good perk!), and plenty of great friends. And you get to wear trackie daks to work.

Does this kind of job have any relevance to your desired career path? Why/why not?

The recreation industry has always been a passion of mine which only now is about to translate into a full-time job for me as I take a role as a Sport and Rec Officer in a remote indigenous community.

Do you find it difficult to balance this job with the rest of your week?

Because my roster was set and I had the same shifts week in, week out, it made time management much easier.

What advice do you have for people looking for part-time or casual work?

You might not be able to do your dream job part-time or casual, but whatever you find, do it well and impress the people around you - they will be your referees when applying for that dream job, and you never know what connections they might have for you to use in your job search. Leave time in your life to gain experience in that dream job through voluntary work.

Find out more about this career path at myfuture.edu.au (Note: free registration is required to access the myfuture site).