Mark Farthing, BA (Hons) Creative Writing, 2012
What are you doing now; tell us about your role and your journey since graduation?
My experiences and achievements at the University of Derby helped me secure my current role – Member Services & Commercial Executive at the League Managers Association (LMA), one of football’s elite associations.
The role is split across the commercial department; working on activation of commercial contracts between the LMA and its partners and the member services department; supporting football managers with their performance and wellbeing.
After graduating in 2012, I was elected as Athletic Union President at the University of Derby Students’ Union for a period of two years.
Working in a sporting environment at the University gave me the opportunity to develop and enhance the skills I had gained as a committee member on the football team whilst studying for a Creative Writing degree.
What were the main reasons you took that course?
Ultimately, I chose the course because I was a strong writer at school and although my education took a backseat whilst I pursued a career as a professional footballer, I always felt that I could fall back on writing – both fiction and journalistic – when the dream ended.
I trained with Luton Town Football Club from the age of 10 but was released when I was 18. The club supported my education whilst I was a trainee by putting me on an apprenticeship education course but it wasn’t academically challenging enough. I passed the first year (equivalent to an AS level) and independently studied English Language for one year.
There was very little study support available post release from the club, so I was lucky that the combined study package I already had gave me the entry requirements I needed to get on to the Creative Writing degree at Derby.
The great thing about being able to write well is that it’s a transferable skill which can be utilised in a range of careers, including my current role at the LMA. The practical nature of the Creative Writing degree has equipped me with the skills to create and produce a range of high quality, engaging content for reports, emails and articles.
Why did you choose to study the course at the University of Derby?
I chose to study Creative Writing at Derby because the course had a reputation of being unique in its delivery of the degree. This meant that I could be assessed 100% on the quality of my coursework as opposed to the unrealistic writing environment of an exam hall.
As I was more interested in the practical element of the course I felt this played to my strengths.
What impact has studying this course at Derby had on your career?
As a sportsman, people expected me to study something related to sport. I’d say Creative Writing is more of a niche course to study and may set me apart from my peers.
My writing background and education certainly played its part in securing my current job. My involvement with the University football team and subsequently the Athletic Union definitely helped me to get to my role at the LMA.
Because competition for jobs in sport is so fierce, there will always be people with slightly more experience and better qualifications who are passionate and want to work in sport.
I consider myself to be very lucky to be working within professional football at St. George’s Park, but I know that it was my willingness to put myself forward for voluntary positions within the Students’ Union, and give up my spare time away from studying that has afforded me the opportunity I have now.
How did the lecturers inspire you?
The Creative Writing lecturers were very supportive of my sporting aspirations and were flexible when it came to Wednesday afternoon matches and training. There was an understanding that as long as there was no clear detriment to my studies, I could fulfil my Students’ Union roles with no additional pressure from the course leaders.
Their recognition of the extracurricular activities I was involved in was important to me and my overall development.
How do you feel the University has helped you in your career so far?
The University provided me with a platform to compete with graduates from all over the country as a more versatile and rounded individual.
I came to university as a shy kid who was able to thrive through sport and then graduate as a young leader.
What are your future plans?
The aim is to learn as much as I can over the next few years and eventually become an expert in the business of sport. The LMA is a world class association with a membership which boasts some of the best football managers in history, so where better to start?
What would you say to anyone thinking of coming to study this course at the University of Derby?
If writing is your passion or your hobby, you’ll love it. If writing is a particular strength, then you’ll get better at it.
Whatever you do… get involved with the Students’ Union! Join a sports team or society. Put yourself forward to be on the committee.
Put the effort in and I’m sure you’ll reap the rewards when you graduate.