ENAS is all about innovation and sharing best practices.  But our network is also a great opportunity for students to find job opportunities and internship after their studies. The experience of Ilaria Bibbiani from Italy is a great example of how ENAS projects and experiences can stimulate members to increase communication and cooperation within our network and beyond.

“ENAS, a network of values and people. It seems just a slogan but it’s the truth. Indeed, I could find a job opportunity as a junior project employee within the university sport community through its website.

During my last bachelor year, I had the opportunity to work at the Sport Strategies Office of the University of Trento. This experience allowed me to deepen my interest in sport policies and politics, in this case within universities. Indeed, I learnt more about sport activities management depending on our programmes’ target and how to use communication tools like social media and websites. During this period, I have supported planning of sport policies addressed to students and employees within university combining existing infrastructures with new projects, adjusting them to the Italian and regional laws and bureaucracy. At the same time I had the opportunity to work in an international environment and to support in managing sport events such as the annual ENAS Forum & assembly (European Network of Academic Sport Services), the European Commission Expert Group meeting on Skills and Human Resources Development in Sport, and the Unisport Italia meetings (Network of Italian University Sport Services).

After writing my thesis “Sport, politics and values: an instrument to achieve objectives at local, national and international level” I decided to take a gap year between my studies in order to improve my knowledge on the topic and to gain experience in the field. I knew that the ENAS website had a useful “job & internship” section that suited my case. Indeed, just at the first glance I found a job offer as a junior project employee for developing and coordinating the range of active programmes available to the staff employed at the Utrecht Science Park. I sent my application and I have been called back: two skype interviews and I had to book a one-way ticket from Italy to the Netherlands!

Ready with my suitcases, I arrived in this new country full of hope. The introduction to the Dutch environment hasn’t been easy due to a hard house research and expat bureaucratic problems (not yet solved), but everything is slowly sorting out with the help of my high resilience (gained after many years on the rugby field) and an enormous support by my family, my partner, and friends.
At the Sportcentrum Olympos I found a welcoming workplace full of challenges: from staff meetings in Dutch to working in a project not yet popular in the surroundings. Here I have the possibility of developing and implementing a solid policy plan, and be responsible for its execution, within the Actief Utrecht Science Park programme to contribute positively to the vitality and health of the staff members. This programme is the umbrella for various initiatives that promote corporate sports activities: for example, the “Get Fit Cargo Bike” consists in giving free exercise activities, such as yoga and bootcamp, during lunch breaks (in the picture). I also have free access to the sport facilities and I can exercise during my work hours!

Not only it’s a challenging experience, but also a stimulating opportunity to learn a new language and to understand another sportive setting and mentality. I can also train with the local student rugby team (Rugbyende Utrechtse Studenten) which gives me a chance to learn from experienced girls and trainers in a new environment.

Walk out of your comfort zone! Sit less, feel better!”