Internships are considered by many as an essential step in a strength and conditioning coach's career in order to develop industry relevant experience. Internships should provide an educational experience to all interns, with both practical and theoretical aspects included to develop the individual holistically. In this series we'll be taking a look at both, internship and mentorship programmes around the world, with the aim to provide an insight into how different organisations and departments develop the future of our industry.
First up in this series is an IUSCA partner department, the University of California, Los Angeles, USA.
UCLA Athletic Performance Internship
The UCLA Athletic Performance Internship has two main goals. The first goal is to facilitate the growth of our interns into experienced coaches. We push our interns to grow continually throughout their time with us by arming them with the scientific and practical knowledge of our training philosophy and training systems. We accomplish this through weekly education meetings with members of the full time staff, and through hands on daily coaching with our athletes.
The second goal is to show our interns what it is like to be a full time coach at the division I level of colligate athletics. We show them first hands the ins and outs, of life as an Athletic Performance Coach at UCLA.
Our internship runs for 6 months at a time. The summer-fall internships starts in June and goes through December, the winter-spring internships starts in January and goes through June. Each intern class consists of 6-8 interns. The minimum qualifications we look for when hiring interns are as follows: bachelor’s degree or a degree in progress in an exercise science related field, CPR/AED certified, and a strong desire to pursue a career in collegiate strength and conditioning. Additional preferred qualifications that we look for in prospective interns are: being a former college athlete at any level, experience in a colligate weight room, NSCA CSCS certified.
Our interns have a wide variety of responsibilities during their time with us at UCLA. On a daily, weekly, and monthly basis, our interns will do a variety of weight room cleaning and maintenance projects. This helps our facility stay clean and run smoothly for the 700+ Athletes that we coach throughout the week. Aside from the cleaning and maintenance that our interns do we want them to coach athletes as much as possible. Our interns are encouraged to jump in and coach from the first day they are here. In order to facilitate this we review each training session with our interns in detail. We cover all the exercises that we will utilize for the day and the things we are looking for from our athletes with each exercise. The interns are put into multiple coaching situations during the training sessions in order to build their confidence and to help them find their unique coaching style. Early on in the internship, the interns are helping us as an extra set of eyes and by cueing individual athletes during the session. As they build up their confidence and our trust, we give interns more responsibility. We have them run warm ups, explain the training session, and run the conditioning portion of our programs. All of this is done under the supervision of the full time staff. The final step for our interns is taking on an entire training session, still under our supervision, but they are the ones running the show.
The education of our interns is one of the focuses of our internship. Our educational curriculum has three goals. The first goal is to have our interns have a deep understanding of the programs we are delivering to our athletes. The second goal is to have our interns develop the skills needed to take on their own teams in the future. The last goal is to give them the skills to get a full time position. These three goals are the basis of the three sections of our internship curriculum.
The first section is the UCLA training philosophy. In this section of the curriculum, we cover everything we do with our athletes, why we do the things we do, how we teach the athletes these things. This gives our interns the background knowledge needed to be able to coach efficiently and effectively with our athletes.
The knowledge the interns learn during the first section is also used in the second section of our educational curriculum. This section is all about program and putting it to practical use. During this time in the internship, our interns work on their sport portfolio project. This project consist of building out a training program for a team in an assigned sport. The sport portfolio is broken up into four parts, creating a needs analysis, creating an annual plan or macrocycle, as well as meso and microcycles.
The final portion of the curriculum is focused on professional development. During this section, they will present their sport portfolio to the full time staff. We ask them questions on the program they created to check their understanding of what they have learned. We also give them feedback on their presentation skills and the details of the program they built. During professional development, we also spend time on constructing a professional resume, cover letter and helping them with networking and interview skills.
We evaluate our interns three times during their internship. These evaluations happen every six to eight weeks. We use the evaluation process to help each intern continually grow during their time with us. We give them feedback on the areas they are excelling at and feedback on areas they need to improve. Through this feedback and our daily interaction and education, we try to push our interns out the door ready for the next step in their career.
Each Evaluation consists of four different parts, the full time coaches’ evaluation, the intern self-evaluation, the intern peer evaluation, and the athlete evaluation. The Full time coaches’ evaluation is out of 100 points, the peer evaluation is out of 50 points, the peer evaluation is out of 15 points, and the athlete is out of 3 points. What we look for from the first evaluation to the last is improvement. There is no set score or comparison between interns. Each of our interns comes in with differing levels of experience and knowledge; we want to push them to be better at the end of their internship than they were at the start.
The full time and intern self-evaluation both have the same criteria that are evaluated. They are on different scoring levels as mentioned above. The criteria on these evaluations are as follows: Professionalism, Session Setup, Session Breakdown, Perform Daily Task, Career Initiative, Coaching Assertiveness, Adaptability, Interactions with Athletes, Interactions with Staff, and Leadership. We use these two evaluations and the differences we find between them to help guide our plan to help each intern to grown.
The Peer evaluation is where we get feedback from the interns on their fellow interns. The criteria on this evaluation include Leadership, Teamwork, Daily Cleaning, Weekly Cleaning, and Monthly Cleaning. We provide each intern with an average score for each criteria based on the scores they get from their fellow interns. This level of the evaluation allows us to give them feedback on where they might be falling short as a member of the team of interns.
The Athlete Evaluation is how we get feedback from the athletes the interns work with on a daily basis. The criteria on this evaluation are Positive Influence, Helpfulness, and do they know your name, do you know their name.
Our hiring process consists of four parts. Once we receive and review a resume, cover letter and list of references from a prospective intern we set up a phone call to give them more details about the internship as well as answer any questions that they might have. If the prospective intern is interested in continuing with the hiring process the next step is to fill out a short questionnaire and send in a video of them coaching. After the video and questionnaire have been review and approved we set up a phone interview. The last step in the process is to check in with their references. If everything has checked out and been approved we offer them an internship position. We start hiring interns for our summer – fall internship in February and finish in early April. We hire from late September through November for our winter – spring. If you are interested in applying for our internship, please send your resume, cover letter, and list of references to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Success in our internship
The interns that have been the most successful in our program and beyond all have a few things in common. They are self-motivated when it comes to learning, coaching, and taking care of the little things. They also are able to lead their fellow interns in tasks that they might not look forward to doing, such as cleaning. Successful interns have the passion and desire to put in the hard work on the long road to becoming a full time coach.
Our interns have gone on to many different levels, schools and sectors within strength and conditioning. There are former interns that work in the NBA, MLB, and MLS. We have former intern’s at all three levels of college athletics as interns, graduate assistants and full time coaches, and many who work at private training facilities. We use these connections to continue to push our current and future interns to be successful in the field.
Performance Nutrition Internship
The UCLA Athletic Performance Department holds a 6 month – 1 year Performance Nutrition Internship to allow nutrition students and new registered dietitians the experience of working in a Division I collegiate sports nutrition setting. Interns are in charge of staffing and running the Olympic Sport fueling and recovery stations that provide breakfast, pre and post fuel, and hydration products. Interns are also assigned nutrition team manager assignments and are in charge of specific nutrition tasks for that team. These tasks include team talks, educational handouts, social media infographics and game support. Along with the team manager duties, interns attend a weekly sports nutrition seminar to learn about upcoming sports nutrition topics. Interested in learning more about the internship? Email our Performance Nutrition Coordinator, Reilly, at email@example.com.
Do you want to share the details of your Internship or Mentorship Programme?
Contact us at info@IUSCA.org and share how you are developing the future of our industry!