In a word, grind.
That’s what the internship experience is in just about every field, a grind. You work a lot of hours for little or no pay and you’re essentially at the mercy of your superiors. You get stuck with the “bitch” work, meaning the jobs that nobody wants or cares to do.
All in an effort to learn from those that have come before.
It is a right of passage in a way. There are many lessons learned along the way both professionally and personally.
I, myself, learned a lot about the profession I chose. The ins and outs of programming. Energy systems. Return-to-play protocols and dealing with a myriad of personalities.
But through all of that, I learned mostly about myself. I learned how to get by with nickels and dimes to my name. I learned what type of environment I wanted to work in. I learned what I will and will not tolerate in a working environment.
Above all else, I figured out how much I truly love my profession.
While it’s easy to glorify the grind and expect interns or even our subordinates to do the same I want to stress one thing.
Your interns and the internship experience you create matters. That experience and the things interns learn in your program will stick with them for the remainder of their professional careers.
They will tell their story of their experience within your organization. They will reminisce about the good and bad times; harken back to the lessons you bestowed on them.
That same experience will speak volumes about your management skills as well as your ability to create a legacy within the field.
I was fortunate enough to have high quality internships throughout my career so by no means is this a dissertation of my particular experience.
However, I have heard some horror stories about other people’s internships.
Individuals being forced to put a coach’s weights away after the coach is done with his personal lifting session. Being fired on the spot for being exactly one minute late. Not being allowed to associate with the athletes or clients, at all.
This only scratches the surface.
In many cases you could propose that the experience could be worse. But what we posture to our subordinates teaches them how to conduct themselves when they land a full time position. If a person never has a positive involvement with an internship program they will perpetuate negativity somewhere else.
They will in turn create an internship opportunity and it may be just as negative as the one they experienced.
The last thing we need in this field in particular is more bitterness and resentment. Many of us complain that the field isn’t growing enough or getting enough respect.
If we continue to eat our own by putting together crappy internship or graduate assistantship experiences then what else can we expect?
In my estimation, an internship should be difficult. It should include the grunt work and student/young coaches should learn to get by with limited resources. It isn’t a charitable experience, that’s not what I’m getting at, but it’s also not indentured servitude.
I do my best to create a challenging and positive experience for those under me. The things I’m able to pass onto them should help them along their journey. This is the professional legacy I’ll try to leave – they are that legacy in a sense.
History belongs to those who tell the stories. Be sure to be on the right side of S&C history by creating good stories for the youngsters to pass on.