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“It’s forced me to get out of my comfort zone.”

Twenty-two-year-old Brandon D’Souza has recently completed a New Zealand Diploma in Sport, Recreation and Exercise (Community Sport and Recreation) at Unitec. 

15 February 2023

Brandon started the Diploma through the ‘earn while you learn’ partnership that Unitec has with Auckland Council, the largest active recreation and exercise employer in Auckland. He now works full-time as a gym instructor at the Council-run Glenfield Pool & Leisure Centre & Tepid Baths.

The former Rosmini College student played competitive football, basketball and cricket, rising to regional representative level, but chose to put his love of sport aside and study commerce in his first year out of school.

He realised after a year or so that his heart wasn’t in it, and left University to work in various jobs in the hope of finding his feet career-wise.  It wasn’t until he’d tried an Arts and Communications course that he realised that sport really was his passion. After seeing the sport and exercise programmes at Unitec advertised online, he decided to enrol in the New Zealand Certificate in Exercise; a Level 5 course designed specifically for people who want to work as personal trainers or exercise instructors. 

He then went on to complete the one-year New Zealand Diploma in Sport, Recreation and Exercise (Community Sport and Recreation), a contemporary and career-focused programme that provides a mix of practical sessions, classroom-based activities, and industry learning with part and full-time options to study.  

The programme also offers an employment partnership with Auckland Council where students can learn and work in the sector at the same time; there are additional work-based placements throughout the programme and many personal and professional development opportunities. 

The ‘earn and learn’ initiative offered by the Diploma programme appealed to Brandon – not only did he have access to hands-on practical employment and workplace experience in the sport and recreation sector while he studied, but he could also pay his rent and save some money for future plans at the same time.  

He says the contact with Auckland Council offered a range of opportunities and he gained experience in a number of different areas, including customer support and gym instructing --- all of which were new to him and which he’s been putting into practice in his role with the Glenfield Pool & Leisure Centre.

“I’ve been able to gain so much knowledge from my co-workers and members of the public I’ve interacted with,” he says. “I’ve met so many great people and built some strong and long-lasting relationships.”

He says that although he found it challenging at times to be forced out of his comfort zone, the support he got from the teaching staff at Unitec helped convince him that he could do it. 

“The teaching staff believed in us and were with us every step of the way,” he said. “It’s a great qualification to have and will really help me get into a career in Sport and Exercise, which is what I really want to do.”

Sport, Exercise and Recreation