JL Holdsworth stopped in at elitefts™ about a year back and we have always bounced ideas off each other since I've known him. He told me about an idea for an article he had and it reminded me of some of the situations I have been in in the past. It related to some of the job interviews he had with potential interns and without stealing any thunder from JL, I will just talk about my experiences. Here are three lessons I learned from mentoring interns during my career.  Hopefully you can relate these scenarios to your own situation whether you are looking for an internship or providing one.

Too Qualified for an Unpaid Internship? You might be. Just ask yourself these questions:

  1. What other paid opportunities do you have that would keep you from taking that unpaid internship?
  2. If that internship was paid instead of unpaid; would you still be a candidate for it?

The first question is really what changed the way I treated our interns. It forced me to treat them more professionally. The best thing I ever did was to fire some of them when they didn't hold up their end of the bargain. It seems harsh and I got the question, "How can you fire me if you don't even pay me?" Easy. Think about what the internship coordinator or strength coach is losing when the intern is fired.

  1. An unqualified helper that he/she has to spend time teaching.

Think about what the intern is losing when they get fired.

  1. A graded internship, which they will not be able to replace until the next semester.
  2.  A reference
  3. The experience listed on the resume.
  4.  Relocation

This is why the worst thing you can do is get fired as a volunteer. You would work for free, do a shitty job, just so you can't even put it on a resume? Interesting. DU S&C Spring Interns The second question goes back to a conversation I had had on the telephone with a young lady who was interested in an internship. She was a paid athletic trainer at the local high school. She asked around about getting experience as a strength coach and she was pointed in my direction. After talking with her for a while she had asked about the pay. I told her it was unpaid and she flat out told me she couldn't do it if it wasn't paid. "So basically, you are choosing not to get any experience?" I asked her. She was convinced she would find a paid internship somewhere locally.  Yes, because there are all kind of Strength & Conditioning coaching positions that would pay a college graduate with no experience. Right? When the second question came up and she responded, I flat out told her. "Young lady, if this was a paid position, you would not be qualified for it." It was like being donkey punched with the fist of truth. I became an instant asshole. Your welcome. JL put it best. "Why would I pay a coach that I have to teach them everything? That's babysitting." We both know the answer. Some people haven't figured that out yet.

Being Strong and Getting others Strong are Two Different Skill Sets

The first feeds your ego. The second feeds your family. One of my former interns who is now a Fireman and previously became a Director of Strength & Conditioning in a Private Facility had helped my realize this. One day he had front squatted 400lbs for reps and he was excited about it. He had begin to joke with our Head football coach Jack Hatem, "Coach, how do you feel about one of your strength coaches front squatting more than your lineman back squat?" Coach Hatem turned to him and in all seriousness said, "Great, you're fired." Silence. My assistant had that look on his face like someone kicked his dog and then Jack let him off the hook, while teaching all of us a valuable lesson. "Why is my offensive and defensive lineman not squatting more that 400lbs?" Truth was we had a few at the time, but the point was made. "Isn't it your job to get those young men stronger. You aren't here to lift weights are you?"

The Best Thing an Intern can do to Get the Next Job is to put Everything they've got into the Job they are in.

Be Big Time Where you Are.

One of my most loyal interns and a young man who has become one of my good friends taught me a valuable lesson on appreciating where you are and the process over the outcome. We had a discussion in my office about my perception of his attitude and his performance. He was being the thermometer instead of the thermostat (thank you Todd Hamer) and was getting visually frustrated at times in front of athletes. He almost seemed inconvenienced by training athletes. Sometimes he was even disrespectful to me and the equipment. That was mostly due to him being comfortable with me and the situation. I learned myself about how to separate the friendship from the assistantship from one of my mentors, Shawn Griswold. I had a Drill Instructor on the Firing range during recruit training on Paris Island. You see, while you are qualifying with the M-16 and you have live rounds; everyone is nicer to you. One of the DIs had said "Please don't mistake my kindness for weakness." That stuck. So the conversation with my intern went like this. "So if you were interning at a DI school, would you slam bars and snap back at your supervisor?"(I gave him examples of coaches we both knew). Of course the answer was no. "So why the fuck would you act like that here. Does that mean I am less of a coach or you have less respect for me than those other coaches." He got it and we both learned the importance of pride. He is now someone that I would hire in an instant because he had all of the qualities you are looking for in a strength coach. He has become a close friend as well. The important thing is something that Joe Ken had said in his last podcast with me. The best thing you can do to help your career is do the best possible job you can wherever you are at. That's how you put yourself in a position where you earn opportunities.

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Still having pain in my left arm and burning down my scapula.  Measured my arms and the left is a full inch smaller that the right.  All due to the nerve damage. So, trying to get back on track... again.

Upper Body Push-Pull Complex for 5 Rounds

Rep Range: 5,4,3,2,5


  • Incline Log Press
  • Elevated Plyo Push-Ups
  • Neutral Grip Pull-Up
  • Med Ball Floor Slams

Incline Log Press from Pins

200 x 5,4,3,2,5

Elevated Plyo Push-Ups


Neutral Grip Pull-Ups

Grip 1 x5, G2 x4, G1 x3, G2 x4, Grip 1,2,0,3,1,2 x1 each

Med Ball Floor Slams

30lb Ball x 5,4,3,2,5

Equipment Used:


Elitefts™ Erect-a-Rack™

Elitefts™ 10" Strongman Log

0-90 Incline Bench

Hi-Temp Bumper Plate

Croc-Lock Collar

Live Learn Pass On Skaker Bottle

Elitefts™ Skull Squat Tee