Opportunities in the Field
Strength and conditioning is a vastly growing enterprise. For many, the first step in getting started within the profession is the most difficult. Questions around where to start, who to contact and what qualifications are needed or desired can be an overwhelming process. An insight into what is expected and preferred from the University of Iowa and our Olympic strength and conditioning department can provide a better understanding into what most will encounter as the first step.
If you are looking to become a full time strength and conditioning coach or a personal trainer it is recommended that you complete an internship first. At the University of Iowa our interns are given the opportunity to work with all twenty three varsity sports in all facets of our profession. We expect our volunteer interns to be comfortable coaching and teaching our student athletes and for this we are highly selective in our recruiting process.
When searching for a prospective internship it is important to keep in mind these aspects. Is the internship a paid or volunteer position? This is significant in regards to what you can afford with cost of living, possible relocation etc.
Make sure you are contacting the correct individual. This is often overlooked and can cost you an interview if mistaken.
Cover Letter and Resume:
This is the first impression that you are making with the department. Review the documents so that they contain the correct information, University, and are grammatically correct. Have multiple individuals look over and edit before submitting.
Information provided on your resume is taken as fact, be truthful in your experiences for you will be inquired to provide further insight in the next step.
Regardless of method whether it be email or a hard copy, maintain professionalism in addressing those that will potentially see your documents.
If afforded the opportunity to interview with an institution preparation is essential. Questions that you will encounter include but are not limited to; Why this university? What is your strength and conditioning philosophy? Are you set financially? How would athletes describe you as a coach? What are your experiences if any in the coaching field? Answering in a proficient and precise manner will assure that you are making your points without talking to extensively. It is also important that you have questions in mind to ask about the internship. Doing this shows initiative and that you care about the opportunity
This is where the real work begins. Like most jobs what you take away from your internship is what you are willing to put in. You are now a representative of the department and you are to display as such during your tenure.
You will be expected to hit the ground running and be thrown into various situations immediately. Most universities will carry the responsibilities of facility and supplement maintenance, but some will get you coaching straight away. Having an understanding of the programs that you are involved in is crucial. You do not need to be an expert right away, but the athletes need to believe that you know what you are talking about. Confidence is key.
You are here to learn, be a sponge. Even full time coaches learn something new every day. Therefore the idea that you already know everything will debilitate your experience. At the appropriate times, ask questions. These questions can cover all concepts including moderated lifts for injuries, administrative responsibilities, communicating with athletic trainers/team doctors, speed and agility development. There are no limits to the information you can gain from your time as an intern.
As a representative you will be expected to maintain the same standards as the rest of the strength and conditioning department. Punctuality and approachability will go a long way along with hard work. An often overlooked yet vital component is the coach-friend line. As challenging as this may be, you are a coach and not a friend to the student athlete. Cross that line and you are going to have some issues.
The first step to your career in strength and conditioning is the most important. If you make good use of your time and exceed basic expectations you will gain much from the internship. In most cases the next step is a paid position so taking the time to make sure you are prepared is imperative. In doing so you will also secure references from those that know and can assist in your next step. A positive reference will go a long way, as will a negative.