When you were starting off your career, did you ever feel overwhelmed that you did not know “enough”? What were your career goals when you graduated and have they changed over the years? What is your best advice regarding reaching your goals for students, new grads, and those just starting out in the rehab/fitness industries?
I know this probably won’t sound humbling, but no, I never really felt like I didn’t know enough. But that’s definitely not to say that I felt like I knew everything. What I was doing clinically at that time was not a package I would consider contemporary for my standards today, but I felt like I had an efficient package that complemented my facilities, my skill set, and the athletes and patients I was serving. Also please consider that in the minor leauges, my job title was Head Athletic Trainer, but I was also the Strength & Conditioning Coach, the Equipment Manager, the Travel Coordinator, the Head Coach’s Executive Assistant, and overall Team Mother and Chief Babysitter. As I look back my growth as a clinician was always in check with these other equally important roles in the overall success of a professional basketball team.
When I graduated undergrad, I went right to PT school, so that didn’t change. I’m not even sure I had a backup plan if I didn’t get in. I probably would have worked as a personal trainer at a gym somewhere at home.
After PT school, I was set on 3 choices, none of which turned out be where I wound up. I wanted to either join the Navy, get a full-time internship in the NFL, or be a pediatric physical therapist.
But as it turned out, the September after graduating, I had an Intern Assistant Athletic Trainer position with the New Jersey Nets. I had 1 year of minor league basketball under my belt, but working in the NBA was never something that I was pining after. 12 years later, it’s still the dream job that I am chasing still with a lot of fire. After getting in with the Nets to this day, my career goal is to work the rest of my life in NBA or D1 basketball.
Some recent advice I have given to young trainers and therapists recently centers around trying to stratify your goals. What you ultimately want may not in reach at the moment, but everything you do between now and then should have some kind of pointed direction towards that goal. At certain points, it will be of a directed effort. Other times it will be indirect. When I was trying to get back into the NBA, from September to April I was in the NBDL. From April to end of June, I was in the USBL. I went home for a week and spent July as an intern with the Celtics. In August, I worked as a PT to improve those skills, but there wasn’t any basketball to be worked. Always try to fill in a personal quality that is somehow related to your ultimate goal.
The other thing that I think is important is to not worrying about knowing everything about everything. Coming up in college and PT school in the middle and late 90s, there was no Strengthcoach.com or Internet blogs. My point is that when there is formal education that you know if directly going to feed your goals, put that ahead of the “real world” information that you may not get in school. Please don’t ever not get a formal level of education that will give you credibility and a foundation in the workplace because the quality of education may be backwards or dated. The contemporary information will always be there. The masters degree will get you a D1 GA job, or the PT degree will get you ahead of everybody else in line for that job you want.
Lastly, read Coach Boyle’s article Should You Stick to The Recipe. It’s okay to be a cook. And it’s okay to be a Chef in some things and still applying to be a cook in others. “The idea is that eventually we all can become chefs but, we all start out as cooks.”
Is there one theory, or stance that you held when starting your career that has changed since, and what caused this shift in thinking? (This question is in regards to my sign off of always evolving, whether it be your thought processes, or your own physical conditioning).
I’m not sure there’s anything I still feel strongly about now from when I started as a professional other than the remand to train with heavy weights.
I used to do leg extensions. I used to do crunches. I used to think warmup was taking an empty bar for a couple sets.
Obviously the training methods of Gray and Coach Boyle are what I use for others, and from Westside for myself are far cries than what I would have done 10-12 years ago.
I just hope I can look back 5-10 years ago and say that everything I do then is different than what I do now.