Glen Walker thought he had his career planned out. He would go to Brisbane to study and then return to his small hometown of Bundaberg to fulfil his childhood dream of being the PE teacher at his old high school. But he got off to a rocky start once he found the career path was not as straight, or secure, as he had imagined. Through a series of unexpected events, at 25 years of age Glen found himself working as an unwilling desk-bound accountant. But through online study he is back on track towards his dream career in sport.
At a career forum, a sports therapist from a prominent rugby team gave him a bleak picture of his career prospects. ‘He said he was filling up water bottles for three years before he came anywhere near a full-time position. He told me he wasn’t getting paid,’ Glen explains. Disheartened and feeling his dream was unattainable, Glen instead sought stability. He switched paths and worked as an accountant for nearly two years. ‘When you’re 19 you think if you work in business you’ll be a multi-billionaire,’ he notes.
Glen’s inertia was interrupted by his boss’ request to become a chartered accountant. Opening a practice exam overwhelmed him. ‘I thought, there’s no way I can do this,’ Glen recalls. He’d come to Brisbane in search of his ‘ticket back to Bundaberg’ and was now buried in numbers.
Confronted with the prospect of failing at something he didn’t want to do in the first place, Glen turned to the one person he knew he could always count on: his Dad. ‘He said look, mate, just back yourself. Go find something you want to do. Despite him being an accountant himself, he wanted me to have the confidence to do what I wanted. I couldn’t believe it,’ Glen says.
After finding a part-time job as a development officer with Touch Football Queensland, Glen recalled all the things he loved about sports including ‘mates and passion’.
His duties were basic at first: assisting in running programs and odd jobs. But he said it gave him the ‘hunger’ to go back to university. After mentioning he was considering further study, Glen’s boss told him about the Master of Business (Sport Management), which he was studying online through Deakin University. The course turned out to be exactly what he was looking for. Plus he could complete it online part-time while simultaneously learning on the job.
Glen’s boss helped guide his transition back to study. ‘He gave me the heads up on everything,’ he says. Despite giving up many social events in order to study, his shared love of sport with his boss kept him motivated as they learned together. ‘We have that passion for competitiveness, for doing well, for self improvement and for furthering yourself,’ he says.
Now full time in his role, a major benefit of the course Glen enjoys is being able to immediately apply study to his job. ‘It’s very current, always updated and we learn about it in real-life contexts.’
Glen’s credits his studies with giving him a foot in the door to multiple careers within sport. ‘It was do or die going into this. But this format has helped to give me that backing to know what I’m talking about and to understand the broader areas sport branches out into.’
‘Don’t let a master’s degree intimidate you,’ says Glen to those considering returning to study. ‘Be confident. If you do the work and follow the process you’ll get through it and still learn a heap. It’s nowhere near as hard as trying to be a chartered accountant when you don’t want to.’
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