alumni UBC’s afterwords is a digital conversation series that shares the stories of some of UBC Okanagan’s extraordinary alumni.
Meet Brianna Beamish
1. What is your current profession?
I’m a retired professional athlete and currently I am working as an online ESL teacher. In September, I will be heading back to school as I’ve been accepted into UBC Vancouver’s Bachelor of Education Program (Elementary and Middle Years).
2. What education did you receive at UBC?
I graduated with a Bachelor of Human Kinetics from UBCO in 2016.
3. What do you think makes UBC Okanagan great?
There are so many things that make UBCO great! For me personally, I loved that I was able to get a UBC degree while living on a smaller campus. Walking around on campus I almost always ran into someone I knew, which made being on campus a lot of fun!
4. Were you a Heat (Laker) and what was your involvement with Heat (Laker) Athletics?
I played on the women’s volleyball team (HEAT) from 2011-2016.
5. What is your favorite Heat (Laker) memory?
I came to UBCO the year that we switched from the college to university league. It was really special to get to be a part of that transition. We ended up having a lot of success in those first 5 years, which isn’t normal for teams that move up into the university league. In my final year, we qualified for Nationals which was huge for us! Most of our families made the trip out to Brandon, Manitoba where Nationals were being held, so we had a lot of fan support! We ended up surprising a lot of people and won bronze, which was an incredible experience and a great way to end my career at UBCO!
6. How did you find balance between your athletic commitments and your studies?
It was definitely tough trying to find the correct balance between the two in my first year, as there are so many new things thrown at you which can be very overwhelming. I don’t think you ever find that perfect balance, but it definitely gets easier as time goes on! You get better at planning your schedule and finding out how to prioritize the most important things in your life.
7. If you could start university again, would you do anything differently?
I truly loved everything about my experience at UBCO, so I don’t think I would change much!
8. What was your first official job after graduation?
I transitioned into being a full-time National team and professional athlete once I graduated. I actually missed my graduation as I was training in Manitoba with Team Canada! A month after I left UBCO, I signed my first professional volleyball contract for the 2016-2017 season! I signed with VC Tirol which is a club in Innsbruck, Austria.
9. What is the best part of your current job?
I recently retired from playing professional volleyball but decided to continue living overseas with my husband, who is also a professional athlete. I transitioned into being an online ESL teacher, which has been great as it’s a job that is incredibly flexible and I can do it from anywhere in the world!
10. What are some of the challenges you have faced in your career?
I’ve been living overseas in Europe since I graduated from UBCO in 2016. My first three years I was a professional athlete in Austria, France, and Switzerland. I would say my biggest challenge during that time was dealing with the language barrier as a foreign athlete. The first couple of months in a new country were always hard and uncomfortable, as everything was new and in a different language. Eventually, I learned that I needed to become comfortable with being uncomfortable!
11. What would you like to share with current students who will be graduating in the coming year and have concerns with the current work climate?
I would say to any volleyball player that is interested in playing professional volleyball that there are a ton of professional leagues at different levels all over Europe that are looking for players! Before the end of your university career, start to look for an agent and begin acquiring video from your best matches. All agents and professional teams will want to see match video, so begin gathering it early!
12. What's the best advice you can give to help plan a career?
When you are a professional athlete, you learn quickly that it’s hard to plan what your life will be like and in a lot of situations, you just have to go with the flow. Some teams won’t pay you on time, other teams fold mid-season, you may not get things that were promised to you, or you may have a season-ending injury and get sent home. It helps to get an agent who will try to find you a club, negotiate your salary, and advocate for you, but unfortunately there are still many things that you will not be able to plan for while being a professional athlete.
13. Do you have a mentor? How have they influenced you?
I wouldn’t say that I necessarily had/have a mentor, but I was definitely inspired by and looked up to the female volleyball athletes that came before me! I also had a lot of fantastic coaches growing up that helped shape me into the athlete I became.
14. What is something you continually find yourself saying?
Throughout my university/professional career, I struggled with a lot of self-doubt. So, for me it was important to remind myself that I could do whatever I set my mind to!
15. How do you balance your work and home life?
Since I am working from home currently, it’s been really important for me to schedule time to get up and be active. When I first started working from home, I realized that there were some days where I would spend 11 hours sitting at my desk. It was also normal for me to go a couple of days without going outside. I quickly realized that wasn’t healthy, so I started scheduling breaks during my day and time to get outside. Eventually I was able to get into a better flow and balance!
16. Where do you volunteer or how do you give back to your community?
This past year living in Switzerland, I volunteered to help with the youth volleyball program in my husband’s professional volleyball club and I also helped out in an English class in a local Swiss elementary school. Both were very rewarding experiences in which I learned a lot!
17. Do you have any books that you would suggest are a must read?
I read The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F**k by Mark Manson while I was playing professionally overseas, and it was really great in helping me deal with facing the uncertainties in life!
18. Who is one UBC Okanagan alum you would like to nominate for afterwords?
Kate Dejong. We both joined the team the same year and we were roommates for four of our five years at UBCO.