Internships From An Intern’s Perspective

This blog entry comes from Eddy Schumacher, one of our intern assistants here at Dixie State.  He has a very unique perspective having already earned a master’s in strength & conditioning to go along with his time as an intern here where he has worked alongside several other interns over the last year.  It’s definitely good to hear some thoughts from an intern’s perspective.  Along with Eddy’s words, I’ve included links to a series of articles titled,
The Strength & Conditioning Internship: A Simple Guide For Strength & Conditioning Coaches, written by Mark Watts, Director of Strength & Conditioning at Denison University.  Great stuff to think about for interns and for coaches who have interns alike.

Part 1 –
Part 2 –
Part 3 –
Part 4 –

By: Eddy Schumacher, Volunteer Assistant Strength & Conditioning Coach, Dixie State College of Utah. 

This entry offers a bit of a different perspective – that of the Intern in a Strength and Conditioning program.  By way of intro, I am a 52 year old with a Master’s in Sports Conditioning and Performance, and will be testing for my CSCS soon.  That makes my position unique in that I’m coming into this career path later in life than the typical Strength Coach, much less Intern. 

An internship is an opportunity to get hands-on experience in the Strength and Conditioning field, and at the same time see different approaches that can help you determine your own approach to the coaching profession.
In order to get the most out of your internship, the first key is to understand your place in the program.  Being willing to embrace every assigned duty fully is vital.  Some of it is grunt work.  So what? I’m 52 and I still do it! Embrace it.  Fix equipment.  Lay out stations.  Clean.  Organize the messed up weights. Whatever you’re asked to do within the program, do it.  And don’t always wait to be asked or told.  Once you get a feel for the expectations, STEP UP! Act on your own initiative to anticipate the coach’s needs.  All of the above duties, and others, should become part of the routine, and should not require reminding or direction.

The second key is accepting that there are many approaches to training, and you should support the approach of the program where you are interning.  Contribute, don’t detract.  That is to say, when YOU are in charge, you can do it your way.  But as an Intern, you are NOT in charge, and your place is to be positive and strive to blend with the Head Strength Coach’s program to make it as successful as possible. Interns come in with a variety of backgrounds, education, and experiences.  Not everyone’s approach or personality will match yours.  That’s okay!   Jump in and take initiative, but do so within the program the Head Strength Coach has set up.  Who knows?  You may just learn something!! So I have a Master’s.  So what? And isn’t that the whole point of interning in the first place?  I like the old Chinese tale of the student who thinks he knows it all, and the master serves tea, allowing the tea to over-fill the student’s cup.  When the student points out the spillage, the master tells the student that he is like the cup, already full of his own knowledge, and therefore unable to receive what the master has to offer.  As an intern, you must empty your cup. 

 The third key is to speak up.  It’s important to not just sit back and expect to be spoon fed.  Ask questions.  Make suggestions. Contribute.  But never do so in front of a team, where they might perceive discord or disunity.  In a staff meeting, or apart from the team training time, don’t hesitate to ask “Why do you do this or that?”  Or make suggestions, “Would it be okay to try such and such?”  Get information.  State your opinions.  Make suggestions.   

As you do these things – embrace your role, support the system, and speak up to make a contribution to the program – you will earn your coach’s trust, and perhaps his respect, and subsequently receive more responsibility, which ultimately prepares you to advance within your program or to take on your own program down the road.

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