Getting The Most Out of Your Internship
In the field of strength and conditioning, internships are a must. Without experience it is hard to find a job or even get into institutions of higher learning without practical experience. This is why it is so important that you make the most of every internship experience, especially when the good ones are so heavily sought after.
With a good internship you most likely will not make any monetary gains. What you will gain is tons of experience, knowledge, connections, and a rock solid reference.
Don’t Be On Time, Be Early
Growing up in a military family I learned one thing about being on time, my father would always say, “If you’re early your on time, if you’re on time your late”. By being early you show that you are committed and want to, you know, actually want to be there. This one simple action will go a long way.
Better be three hours too soon than one minute too late. ~ William Shakespeare
(I would not recommend being 3 hours early, but you get the point)
It is amazing how showing up day after day and doing what you said you are going to do, makes such a big impression. This is because it is hard to find people that are consistent. Be a man or woman of your word and follow through with what you say. This will leave a great impression on your internship supervisors.
By being on time and reliable, these two steps alone will leave a lasting impression on your internship site. The best part is they are easy to do. So as Nike would say, “Just Do It”, that’s if Nike was an entity that was able to verbally communicate with us.
Next, the not so commonsense but still commonsense portion.
Know Your Weaknesses
Going in to an internship you should know what you want to improve on. It is a good idea to set 5 goals going into your internship that you would like to complete by the time you are done. The more specific the goal the better and higher the chance you will complete your goals.
Be Proactive In Your Learning
One of the great things about being at an internship site is that you are surrounded by a group of professionals that have way more knowledge and experience then you. So take advantage of it. Ask questions, pick their brains and get their thoughts and opinions. If there is a topic you think you know but have some doubt, ask about it, and don’t just assume you know it.
Observation is a great way to gain knowledge but it should not be your only means of gathering information. Ask why they do something, or why this over that. I have not met a coach out there that does not love to share their opinions.
One of the biggest mistakes I made in my first internship is that I assumed that the site coordinator was just going to teach me. This did not happen. It took me until the last two weeks of my internship to realize that I have to be proactive in the learning process and ask questions. If I had this mindset in the beginning I would have gotten so much more out of my time there.
So I challenge you to have one question or topic to discuss for every day. This will require you to do some research on your part to find questions or topics that you are not sure about. It is hard to know what you don’t know if you are not actively seeking out what you are lacking.
“Learning is not attained by chance; it must be sought for with ardor and attended to with diligence.”
Learn From Your Mistakes
I can almost guarantee that you will make mistakes throughout your internship. It is how you respond to failure that will shape you. I absolutely hate to make mistakes but I have also found that I learn the most from the mistakes I have made. When you mess up, don’t take it lightly but also don’t beat yourself up, it’s a balance. Find out where you went wrong, what you did right, and how you can fix it so it does not happen again.
Never be afraid of making mistakes. It’s part of the learning process.
“We learn from failure, not from success!”
This is a really simple non earth shattering idea but if we were all doing this then I would not be telling you to do it. I always have a note pad on me. It helps me remember. I am not going to chance my sieve of a memory to remember what I learned. Simplest solution, write it down.
Writing down your questions, answers to those questions, or just writing down what you want to accomplish for the day is a great way to stay on track. It is also a good resource to look back to.
Here is one extra tip, I am cool like that.
Never Take Anything Personally
I believe I got this one from Mike Boyle or some other smart guy.
During your internship you will make mistakes and have lapses in judgment. This is all part of the learning process (as discussed above). People will point out your mistakes and coaches will tell you where you went wrong. Never take anything they say as a personal attack on who you are as a person. Remembering this one quote, “Never take anything personally,” will help tremendously throughout your internship and life in general.
I am out!