School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences

Undergraduate study

"I was able to work with world-class athletes in top-level facilities. The most rewarding part of my placement would be when I see athletes that I have worked with win medals".

Why did you decide to spend a year on professional placement?

To get a job in the sport industry nowadays, experience is vital. It seemed only logical to me that taking a placement that would provide me with a whole years’ experience was a good idea. The quality of experience you get from a placement year is also a significant benefit. It’s not the same as volunteering at a local club, it’s 9-5 (often longer) for a whole year working with professional athletes. That’s hard to come by, which is why a placement year is such a great thing.

What steps did you take to find a placement?

The placement team e-mail you throughout the year whenever a placement becomes available. They tell you what it involves and how to apply for it. It’s always good to look around yourself but for me, I saw the job I wanted being advertised by the placement team, so it made life easy.

What support did you receive from the University to help with finding and securing your placement?

At the beginning of the year there is a lecture run by the placement team for everyone thinking of doing a placement. They outline the process of how to find placements and how to make a good application. They also offer a service where you can email your CV to them and they can check it for you then provide you with feedback. This is very handy if you haven’t done many CV’s before.

At the beginning of the year there is a lecture run by the placement team for everyone thinking of doing a placement. They outline the process of how to find placements and how to make a good application. They also offer a service where you can email your CV to them and they can check it for you then provide you with feedback. This is very handy if you haven’t done many CV’s before.

 

What did the recruitment/assessment process involve?

Alongside a CV and covering letter, applicants had to create an A0 poster with the theme ‘What contributes to a good Physiologist?’. There was an interview day, where we had to travel to one of the EIS sites and present our posters to members of the physiology team. Afterwards there was a group task where we were given a scenario and had to plan a physiological strategy to overcome the problem in the scenario. We then presented our strategy followed by some harsh questioning. Applicants were then narrowed down as to who would make it to the next stage. The next stage was an interview with some of the top members of the physiology team. After the interview day we heard back within the next week about whether we had been successful or not.

Alongside a CV and covering letter, applicants had to create an A0 poster with the theme ‘What contributes to a good Physiologist?’. There was an interview day, where we had to travel to one of the EIS sites and present our posters to members of the physiology team. Afterwards there was a group task where we were given a scenario and had to plan a physiological strategy to overcome the problem in the scenario. We then presented our strategy followed by some harsh questioning. Applicants were then narrowed down as to who would make it to the next stage. The next stage was an interview with some of the top members of the physiology team. After the interview day we heard back within the next week about whether we had been successful or not.

 

What role and responsibilities did you have during your placement?

Throughout the year I spent lots of time in the lab working with elite athletes from British Athletics and British Triathlon. One day I might run a V0_2max test then the next day I might be in the environmental chamber monitoring an altitude training session or a heat acclimation session. My main role was the maintenance and distribution of altitude equipment to athletes. I would service the altitude generators and make sure the tents were clean and operational before distributing them to athletes that needed them, sometimes sending them internationally. If any of the other EIS sites across the UK need help, I travel around and help them with any projects they have going with their respective sports.

Were you able to use knowledge/skills acquired on your course during your placement? If so, how?

You must know the theory behind the tests that you are conducting on athletes so that you can put what you are doing into context and know how it relates to their training. Just as importantly, you need to be able to explain if they ask. If you do not know what you are talking about, an athlete will not trust you and then you lose the important athlete-practitioner relationship. I found much of what I had learnt on my course, such as lactate thresholds, components of V0_2max and responses to altitude training, was related to what I was doing at the EIS and therefore gave me a head-start at the beginning of my placement.

What did you enjoy most about your placement?

The best aspect of my placement was being able to work with world-class athletes in top-level facilities. This would just not be possible at my age and level of experience without a placement. Due to the rigorous application process, everyone at the EIS trust you are good enough to do the job and so they get you stuck in right away. On my first day they told me I would have a week to upskill myself on the HB Mass test as I would be performing it on Adam Peaty! The most rewarding part of the placement would be when I see athletes that I have worked with win medals.

How do you think your placement will help you in the future?

I have become more employable for having done my placement. Due to the reputable name of the EIS, employers will know that quality of experience I have had is very high which will be very favourable for me if I apply for a job. In the short term, I have learnt a lot of practical skills which will help me out with my final year project. Most importantly, this year has confirmed to me that elite sport is the career path I want to follow.

What would you say to anyone considering a placement year?

If you are thinking of going into a competitive industry like elite sport, the placement year is almost as important as the degree itself. I would strongly recommend doing one as not only is it vital experience, it can give you a break from studying. A year is also enough time for you to decide whether you really want to continue with your desired career path, having now actually done the job. My main piece of advice would be to find a good placement that you will enjoy, because a year is a long time to do something you don’t like.