I have worked as a Strength & Conditioning Intern for almost two years. This semester, I was lucky enough to become Head Intern, which put me in charge of the 30 plus other interns who volunteer their time in the weight room. Taking on this new responsibility got me thinking about all of the lessons that I have learned in the weight room. Now, I’m not talking about stuff related to training and exercise, although being in the weight room has taught me as much (or even more) about training than my classes at school. Being an intern in the weight room has taught me many life lessons that will remain true regardless of what career path I take.
I’ve learned that attention to detail is critically important when working on something. Doing something right the first time often saves time and the extra work of having to go back and do it again when it isn’t done correctly. All the little details add up, and can lead to a big difference in the end.
I’ve learned that there are a hundred different ways to achieve the same goal.
There are often many different ways to approach a problem, and there tend to be multiple solutions to that same problem. Just because you have one way of dealing with a problem and someone else has another, it doesn’t mean that one idea is wrong and the other is right. They may be equally valid and achieve the same results, just by different means. Open your mind up to other people’s ideas and you will strengthen your own base of knowledge.
Start with the big picture and hammer down to the details.
Often we can get so focused on one part of something that we forget the larger idea altogether. When it comes to training, we have macrocycles, mesocycles, and microcycles. You don’t start at the microcycle and work your way back. First, you plan out the entire macrocycle, and work your way down to the microcycles, adjusting as you go. Attention to detail is important, but so is having an understanding of the larger picture.
When tackling a big problem, work on one piece at a time.
Sometimes a task, like a paper or a project, can seem overwhelming. Not knowing how or where to start is an easy way to put it off altogether. When you have a big task to complete, it’s important to just start it! Waiting around isn’t going to do any good, and planning can only get you so far. Start on one small piece and complete it. Then, move on to the next one. By using this process, larger tasks can be broken down and accomplished in half the time.
I’ve learned that effective communication is vital to getting things done.
People communicate in many different ways. Sometimes a method of communication that works for one person may not work as well with someone else. Gauge what wavelength they are on, and adjust your own communication plan to get the most information across in the most efficient manner. So much of communication is beyond the actual words you say. It’s how you say them, how your body acts when the words come out of your mouth, and understanding every aspect of good communication is how to get something done quickly and efficiently.
Teamwork is everything.
Not often in life can you make it far on your own. At one point or another, you will need the help from one other person, or multiple other people. Nobody likes having to do group projects in class, but they help prepare you for working as a team later in life. In a team, you are only as strong as your weakest link, which makes working together that much more important.
I learned that the mind remains strong even after the body has started to give out.
Getting up at 4:50 a.m. after a bad night’s sleep isn’t easy. There were days where I got up before a lot of people on campus went to bed. It may be hard on the body, but the mind is stronger than you think. You can get up, even when you don’t want to. You can put in work, even when you don’t feel like it. Once you learn how healthy your mind is, other tasks don’t seem nearly as hard.
I think that as we get older, we need to go through a formative experience like this in one way or another. There is so much to learn outside of school and outside of the classroom. Take every opportunity you have to grow stronger and become better at something, because it will put you miles ahead of the people who just show up because they have to.