National Careers Week | Mia Ararat

Published Sun 12 May 2024

When Squash Australia reached out to Deakin University for students to take on a semester-long internship, there were two major objectives: firstly, to increase the capacity to service members, and secondly, as an investment into the future of sport administration to hopefully, ideally, increase the quality of quantity of administrators within the world of squash.

Enter Mia Ararat, a third year psychology student who had only ever been interested in becoming a sports psychologist at an AFL club. After a number of unanswered emails or straight “no’s”, Mia saw the opportunity to apply for the position at Squash Australia and has spent the past four months learning the ins and outs of almost every corner of the organisation.

“I’m just so grateful to get insight into what working in sport could be like,” she said during a short break at the recent Australian Junior Open in Melbourne, realising that working for a smaller sport than the AFL has provided far different insights to what she expected.

“It’s meant that I’ve been able to have more of an impact in the work that I’m doing,” said Mia. “Some of my colleagues are at psychology clinics being their receptionist, whereas I’m getting real life, first-hand experience.

“I’m working on grant programs, I’m attending tournaments, I’ve spoken to every National Lead in Squash which is incredible for making connections. It’s really opened the door for me in so many other ways than being a receptionist or doing admin work.

“What I’ve been learning through all these grant applications is that one grant can make such a difference for a sport and I think it’s just a more meaningful connection to the community when it’s a smaller sport.”

Shaun McEachin, Squash Australia’s National Lead for Sports Development, said the opportunity to bring an intern in from a non-squash background has provided a different avenue for entry into the sport’s administration than most graduates tend to take.

“From my experience, people tend to come into work in a sport that they participate in,” he said. “Generally they start off as someone in the office or a development officer and then work your way up that way.

“What it means is you get great on the job training, but it also means you lack that real rigour in the capacity to think independently, to critically evaluate and to really network across all of industry until your further advanced into a career.

“Getting in early, hopefully it means we get students who have a well-grounded and well-rounded understanding of what it takes to work in sport.”

Having seen what Mia has been able to contribute in such a short period of time, McEachin will be sad to see her go but is excited by the opportunity to allow help more students to get a taste of what a career in sports administration may look like.

“I almost pity whoever comes next because Mia has set such a high standard in the work that we’ve done in such a small period of time - our Pride in Sport Index submission, our ‘Play Well’ participation grant, the ‘Play Our Way’ participation grant that we’re working on - we’ve done some really big projects.

“I think the weight of expectation is going to be different than the expectation I had prior to seeing what Mia has being able to deliver.”

Mia has some simple advice for the next wave of students who might see a Squash Australia internship advertised at their university: “Go for it!”

“This has been an incredible experience and one that I know I have been very lucky to be a part of,” she said. “I thought people would be jumping at this opportunity and people should.

“I’m a psychology student - I’m not majoring in sport - but it’s opened my eyes to all the other opportunities there are in sport.

“I don’t just have to be a sports psychologist now. Speaking to Jodie [Purves, Squash Australia National Integrity Manager] made it really interesting to learn about the integrity side, watching Tamika [Hunt, National Lead - Competitions and Events] and what she does during this tournament - she does such an amazing job - and it’s just opened my eyes to how incredible it can be working in a sport.”

Click here to read more about National Careers Week.


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