Hundreds of summer internships will kick off this week. In many cases, program participants are anxious, overwhelmed, and uncertain of what to expect.
Am I adequately prepared? Are the athletes in the gym going to take me seriously? Will my employers trust me with their clients? Can people tell how nervous I am?
Having seen roughly 200 interns make their way through CSP over the years, I can tell you with certainty that crushing your internship, especially in the first week or two, is surprisingly simple.
Commit yourself to practicing these “3 P’s,” and you’ll find it easy to differentiate yourself from the weaker links in your program:
I can’t believe it needs to be said, but punctuality is actually a differentiator for many in the fitness industry. Vince Lombardi said it best: “If you’re five minutes early, you’re already ten minutes late.”
Show up early for staff meetings. Wrap up your own training sessions with fifteen minutes to spare in advance of hitting the gym floor to coach. And make sure not to be the first one out the door at the end of the day. We can tell if you don’t want to be here, and the biggest illustration of this attitude is showing up 2 minutes before your shift starts, and bolting as quickly as possible.
I don’t really care about your competency on day one. You made it through the thorough application review and interview processes and found your way into a spot in our program, so I already know you deserve to be here. Trust your skill set and focus on being likeable.
Make friends. Learn names. Smile.
By the end of your first week, the staff will already know if they see you as a potential hire in the long-term, and it will have little to do with your ability to coach a deadlift. Be so likeable that we can’t ignore you, and we’ll take responsibility for developing you into an exceptionally competent coach during the coming months.
Our most recent hire, Kyle Driscoll, stepped into my office at the end of each of his coaching shifts during first week of his internship to look me in the eye, shake my hand, and say thank you for the opportunity. His positive attitude did not go unnoticed.
I’ve never met a gym owner who got mad at an employee or intern who took it upon himself to change the trash, refill the water fridge, or vacuum up the gym chalk on the floor next to a deadlifting platform without being told to do so. Make a habit of “getting caught” tidying the training floor. Show up early to review client programs and get ahead of preparing for the day. Ask your fellow interns how you can help them improve on a given day.
Being proactive rarely costs much, but it will leave a lasting impact on the memories of your colleagues, and the clients who may ultimately tip the hiring scales in your favor with an unexpected endorsement directed toward your boss.