After leaving college at 18 and knowing that university wasn’t the right path for her, Sarah chose to gain qualifications and travel by signing up for UKSA’s Watersports Instructor Traineeship in partnership with Neilson, a leading active holidays provider. The bespoke 10-week course will cost you just £1000 (Neilson fund the remaining £3995), plus upon successful completion of the scheme you will be guaranteed employment for two seasons at a Neilson resort.

Sarah now holds a year-round position working for Neilson and shares her story with us here:

“I had left college at 18 and knowing that university was definitely not something that I wanted to do, but not really knowing what I wanted to do, I went to work full time as a lifeguard and swimming teacher at my local leisure centre. After about seven months of being at home doing a monotonous job while all my friends were off doing new things at university, I decided I would rather work abroad somewhere warm, ideally by a beach, than in cold England. I came across the Neilson twitter page and was about to apply as a swimming teacher/lifeguard when I saw the UKSA advertisement and decided working on a beach seemed way cooler than by a pool!

I really enjoyed my time on the Watersports Instructor Training (WIT) course at UKSA and would happily go back there and do it all again! The staff were all friendly and super helpful! Sometimes I can be a difficult learner, getting stressed when I don’t get things straight away, but all the UKSA staff were really patient with me, and helped me until I understood things. Everything was kept as fun as it can be, whilst still being informative, even theory! Running around with helmets on to learn weather systems is something I will never forget.

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The way that I teach today is based on some of the ways that the instructors taught me at UKSA. Despite it sometimes being a bit chilly (invest in a good wetsuit, you won’t regret it!), one of the biggest memories about UKSA is how great the food is! Good, hot food at breakfast and dinner was exactly what I wanted before and after a session on the water! Also, I made friends at UKSA in 2015 that I still talk to now. 

During my time with Neilson I have worked in three resorts in Greece and holidayed in another two. After doing a summer with Neilson and enjoying it so much, I ended up working winter seasons with them too and have worked in Italy, loving it just as much as the summer season! I think the best part of this job is the team that you work with. Not only the beach team but the entire resort team. Everyone there is doing a season abroad and tends to have a similar mindset to you, so it’s easy to get along with people. Everyone makes friends with everyone, spending days off and evenings together, and by the end of the six or seven-month summer season you’ve made so many good friends that you don’t want to leave!

Neilson are a great company to work for! There are so many opportunities once you’re out there and they really help you develop yourself. You can continue to gain even more qualifications whilst working with Neilson, and the progression up is encouraged and guided if you show you’re capable and keen. You are free to use all the kit whenever you want, meaning days off and lunches can be spent windsurfing, cracking your waterstarts, or freestyle tricks, or just going for a friendly sailing race with your mates! I know that my personal ability has improved so much since working for Neilson and it’s so nice to see the progression within myself. You are also able to join in with other things around resort such as fitness classes or getting spa treatments. I was really interested in wakeboarding and waterskiing and managed to get a tow in most weeks, eventually leading to Neilson helping me get my waterski qualifications.  I now work on the waterski team as well as being able to continue teaching sessions and courses on the beach, and doing day to day beach things, so I get the best of both worlds! All the managers that I’ve had have been friendly, fun and knowledgeable and amazing to work with.

I will hopefully be doing another winter season and then it will be back to Greece for another sun filled summer!”

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Neilson Watersport Instructor Training selection dates:

23rd and 24th August

30th and 31st August

20th and 21st September

Please call us on (01983) 203038 to discuss your options.

Start your journey with UKSA here: uksa.org