13 Tips for Applying to Strength and Conditioning Internships (and Any Other Internship as Well)

I’ve been getting several different questions both in person, over the phone, and from current and even past interns. These questions generally range from identifying what to do to get your foot in the door, to how to make decisions, and what kinds of steps to take when looking to expand your repertoire.

I answered some of these questions individually, but also figured it would be a great chance to simply develop a quick and easy numbered list to help identify the non-tangibles when looking to acquire an internship position.

Further, many times internships are non-paid positions, and I’ll avoid that discussion entirely by saying that I’ve personally done 4 non-paid internships, along with several hundred hours of non-paid observational hours at varying physical therapy clinics. Time is precious, and I recognize that, but I’m also not adverse to not getting paid in order to learn the inner workings of a facility or someone I admire professionally.

One Question

The simple question follows:

Q: Any recommendations for when I’m applying to internships?

In typical fashion, I’ll answer with a question:

A: What do you want? After you figure out specifically what you want to get out of an internship (in any field really), read the following tips.


When Looking to Land the Internship Position…

1. Get to know the people who will be looking at your internship applications.

2. You are more than a resume and CV, and instead of finding out how to fit in, figure out how to stand out.

Identify what makes you special. Identify what the other applicants are saying about themselves. Many times the questions the interviewers or the application itself may ask is simply looking for ways to display competency, how you view yourself, and how you can best express yourself.

From helping with the internship process, to applying to several internships (and also not getting several internship positions and asking why I didn’t get them either), it helps to understand that everyone looks the same on paper, generally, barring the one guy who strength trains skydivers and Olympic level snowboarders, while actively competing in parkour and freerunning competitions (is that even a thing?).

3. Learn how to express yourself. I feel like I’ve developed a great way of identifying the things that make people stand out, and it all starts with asking yourself better questions about what makes you special. Not special like the way your mother talked about yourself, but rather how you can describe the experiences, professions, and the things you learned as a cause of these experiences.

On a side note, I spoke with someone recently and they mentioned an interviewer asked them, “What would your entrance song be, if you had one?”

Many might say the themes from Batman, Inception, or [insert favorite rock song] here.

He said none, and moved on.

Interestingly, this individual later mentioned to me that he said he didn’t have dramatic music for any of the important experiences in his life, so he does not need a dramatic entrance in any respect either. He didn’t reply with the above, just in passing, which shows that even with an answer of “none” you can still express and validate why you chose none.

(To me, this answer provides clarity that this individual is rooted in reality, which is a good thing for me, at the very least. Also, it provides exceptional clarity about who this individual is, because these answers came at a rapid pace, with zero need for thinking about the “whys” of the answer.)

This is not really identifying what kinds of music you listen to – the content of your music doesn’t matter too much. Instead, the question is looking for ways for you to paint a picture of who you are, and if you can paint that picture succinctly, then that will be one more way you differentiate yourself from the crowd.

4. Visit the physical location of where you want to intern, if possible. If not, show respect and ask the owner/managers if you can chat for 5 minutes about why their facility is better than others. (Why settle for somewhere that isn’t special? Or why settle for somewhere that cannot articulate these facts succinctly?)

5. Talk to other coaches that are already working there. The owners will often give you the rose-colored answers you want to hear. Stick around and listen to the coaches that will give you the real answers. If their answers match, then it is all gravy. If there is dissonance, then be wary.

When Looking to Grow as A Person and Managing Logistics

6. Reduce costs of living by figuring out if you have friends/family in the area. This is a no brainer, and it makes sense when you think about next point.

7a. The internship is a great time for learning, yes, but also just as good of a time for networking. Save money on rent, and see if you can take time off on some random days to visit neighboring colleges, universities, other private facilities, and other practitioners (phys therapists, chiropractors, DOs, MDs, nutritionists – doesn’t matter as long as you’re interested).

The point is to use the internship as a “temporary living and learning relocation” that you would not have had access to if you did not work/intern there otherwise.

Internship Venn Diagram

These are the three items I looked to improve upon when I did my internship several years ago.

7b. Using the internship as a “temp living and learning relocation” will grant you the ability to pivot – namely pivot and identify places that you would not have normally had access to were you to just visit on a one day trip. It also allows you to develop relationships in far away locations from where you normally call your home, and thusly may be an area you will identify with more readily in the future if need be.

8. Don’t be afraid to ask for anything. Expect to get rejected, but reek of positivity.

As an addendum to this, all of my “bosses” in my previous internship experiences have been nothing but accommodating, but only after I had shown significant effort into the internship and my own life. I worked multiple jobs, plus did several internships ranging from 250 to 400+ hours, plus managed to not crash and burn. If you show effort, hopefully your superiors will recognize this, and maybe throw you a bone every once in a while – if you ask for it.

9. Also, use your saved money allocation for buying people beers, appetizers, and coffee for people who also interest you, or are willing to help you. Even water, something that is often times free, will go a long way. It is the intent that matters.

General Networking Tips

10. Smile an obnoxious amount. A smile from ear to ear can get you in the door in many many different ways that you would not have known otherwise. (Of course, if you are smiling in a creep way, then stop being creepy first.)

11. If you are just following this as a checklist, and if all of a sudden I have 4 offers for coffee, and 5 offers to get beer after work, I’ll know your intention isn’t legitimate. Read point number 2 again – and be genuine instead of checking things off a list.

12. If you find yourself saying “I can’t do this,” or “I can’t swing the money,” or “I can’t afford to sleep less than 8 hours because of (x),” I have to ask you, “Is it your intention to get better? Do you intend on not doing things to the best of your ability?”

13. Perhaps you are already spread thin. Use this time to re-prioritize what is important to you, if this is the case.

I’m sure this list will grow, as many individuals contact me privately either on Facebook, texting, or calling, and the advice will shift depending on their respective situation. Generally however, radical confidence in oneself to accomplish anything, plus a realistic self-awareness of where one excels and is weak, will be enough to guide anyone down a path towards whatever success means.

As always,

Keep it funky.


Perspectives of a Dancer Turned Strength Coach

Dancing has painted the way I view many things in life. To the way I longingly look at any shiny floor in any part of the world (there were some dope places in London that I wanted to dance at… but security stopped me from doing so), to the way I choose the songs I casually listen to, to the way I even do my job of coaching athletes – my life is a canvas painted by dance.


What is probably the most interesting aspect of how dancing has infiltrated my work is how I coach the athletes and clients I work with on a daily basis.

Perspectives of a Dancer

Now, my unique blend of experiences and the way I view the world will shape how I approach exercise and essentially my job as a coach. Essentially, everyone will bring something unique to the table – this is what I bring.

The Tangibles

  • For the athletes and clients I work with, I want you to move well, before moving with volume or heavy load.
  • If you’re dancing, moving with a slower tempo before speeding up may be beneficial – or vice versa. Knowing when to slow it down and speed it up is crucial for success in both the dancing and strength & conditioning world.
  • I want you to feel certain sensations as you do your exercises.
  • From a coaching perspective, dancing has given me a different set of lenses that I use in order to convey different stories, analogies, and lessons to get across.

Long story short there are many benefits to dancing that I have transferred over at first, subconsciously from my experiences, but after seeing many coaches coach and do their thing, I began to realize this is where I’m different.

It is also an interesting story for others to hear – almost every other coach in the industry has a background that involves their high school and collegiate career in sports.

On the other hand, I openly admit to sucking at every organized sport pretty much my whole life, and knowing full well I wouldn’t be as good as my other friends, I decided to invest my time, energy, blood, sweat, and tears into dancing.

Intangible Skillsets That Transfer from Dancing to Coaching

1. Everything is a sensation

In dancing, the music drives the movement. In exercising, there is no attention to the music (other than just to hype you up).

The takeaways that I’ve always used from dancing that help with coaching involve understanding that certain movements may “feel” a certain way in individuals – whether it is the right feeling or not is up for debate. In power moves in bboying, there is a certain “pulsing” that occurs when you are in the groove or in the correct position.

When exercising, if you aren’t feeling the correct areas being kicked on, my job as a coach is to help you feel those areas by any means necessary – with words, tools, stories, analogies, or by changing the exercise through a regression or other similar exercise.

2. Developing a “coach’s eye” through a different set of lenses.

Many have referenced the use of different ways to learn and coach – some learn by visual cueing, auditory, or even kinesthetic methods. I feel like I have developed my ability to deliver a high level kinesthetic coaching experience for anyone (certain populations aside of course).

See, my goals for getting you to move well involve efficiency and feeling. Being efficient means moving you into certain positions with as little verbiage as possible, without clogging your brain up with a bunch of things to think about.

For example, when teaching the basics to a squat to anyone, I really enjoy using the following strategies:

  • Using a visual cue, using pointing when necessary to identify critical parts of the movement.
  • Using an auditory cue simultaneously, such as “Knees go east and west of each other, as you squat to the box.”
  • And finally, emphasizing a kinesthetic cue for an individual’s feet by pushing on the outside of their feet, and tapping their heels and likewise saying “Feel tension where I’m pushing.”

It’s never a singular sensorimotor experience that allows an individual to learn. If I can make you laugh, learn to breathe, and perform an exciting exercise they never thought possible, I’ve done my job. These are just a few items that emphasize the uniqueness that most dancers can bring to the table when coaching.

Actionable Items

If you’re a coach, what can you do to improve your ability to well… coach?!

1. Learn a new skillset.

For skillsets that involve movement, rhythm, and attention to detail, but still is lots of fun – I highly recommend salsa. Salsa is easy enough to learn from your micro-failures early on, that big takeaways can be learned right away from several YouTube videos, or if you’re daring enough at a salsa club or lessons.

(Word to the wise: Havana Club in Cambridge/Boston area has lessons an hour before they have the full blown salsa night. Check it out if you’re in the area. Oh, and hit me up if you plan on going as well! :) )

Learning a new skill such as this will expose you (the coach) to the feelings of being a novice all over again. It is surprising, but many coaches may stick to their strengths out of fear of being exposed, or even clinging to the thought of looking dumb. Just think of how your athletes feel when you try to have them do anything new.

By walking (dancing) a mile in their shoes, you can re-experience what it means to learn a new skill set all over again, which may give you better perspective and experience to help ease your athletes or clients’ worries.

And, it doesn’t have to be salsa. It can be learning the intricacies of a new sport, learning a new set of recipes to cook, or just simply stepping outside your comfort levels for an hour or so out of the week!

Learning a new skill set also gives you a broader vocabulary with which to convey your intentions as a coach. If I want my athlete’s body to remain as still as possible, and perform a specific exercise that may require movement of only one or two body parts, I’ll ask them to stay still like they are doing the robot, but then move this part (pointing or demonstrating) only. If they have no idea what “the robot” is, then I can show them right then and there – they laugh, I laugh, they do the exercise – gains.

2. Learn the rhythm to every exercise.

Every exercise has a rhythm – yes even stationary exercises such as planks and side planks. (If you remember to breathe during these static drills, you can see what I’m talking about.)

Other than the obvious rhythmic exercises such as kettlebell swings, sprints, or skips, exercises such as squats, deadlifts, hang cleans, and medicine ball drills all have specific rhythms to adhere to achieve success.

  • With KB Swings, there is a portion where your torso is parallel-ish to the floor, and then a moment of weightlessness as the KB accelerates away from your hips (and your lower half shoulder feel like it goes down into the ground).
  • With sprints there is a moment of speed and pulsing that is created when you move past the acceleration phase.
  • With squats, there is a bouncy feeling that you need coming out of the hole while maintaining a tall torso position, at least for the intermediate to advanced lifters. 
  • With push-ups, there should be a feeling of pushing the earth away ala Chuck Norris jokes from 2005.

Push-Ups Earth Downs

See if you can find the rhythms in other exercises, and use whatever verbiage (or kinesthetic cues) you can to describe it to help you coach these exercises better.

I personally use powerful words to help describe the intensity in these movements – with KB Swings there is an early “snap” out of the hips that helps to improve your movement, with medicine ball slams there is a “boom” that also facilitates intensity.

As you can see, there are tons of different perspectives that allow myself, a dancer turned strength coach, to be successful in a room full of otherwise very sports minded individuals.

One thing to keep in mind is that many of the above items refer to biomechanical and neurological sensations as a key towards unlocking movement success. For the athletes and clients I work with, this is not to underestimate their ability to attain certain physiological adaptations as well. They are connected, but not the same. At the same time, please don’t believe that every item I perform involves stretching to the max – I believe in having flexible and pliable muscles, but that is not usually my end goal for you as the client or athlete!

There is a certainly a time and place for everything, this is simply my own take on it!

As always,

Keep it funky.


So… What Do You Do? – Part 2

So one aspect of moving to a new state, and working at a new job, is making new friends.

Fortunately for me, Massachusetts is a hot bed of strength and conditioning, as there are several handfuls of colleges, private schools, and travel teams of baseball, hockey, lacrosse, and many other sports as well. So, if I say I’m a strength coach, people usually don’t look at me like I have five heads.

Similar to my last post on this topic (So… What Do You Do?), I feel like discussing this subject is important, as this can serve to be a reference for why I do the things that I do, as it is still a very relevant topic, and I feel it is necessary to give an updated topic on what I do as a professional in this industry.

Being a strength coach brings about a sense of mystery to the general public. The profession is still in its infancy, and there are plenty of things to define as far as responsibilities go within the industry.

If I could succinctly define my immediate roles at Cressey Sports Performance, it is to be a presence both on and off the floor for athletes and clients in the form of providing guidance for their fitness and sporting endeavors.

I can’t make a final decision for you, and I can’t put food into your mouth to help you gain weight. I can however, provide guidance on how I believe to best achieve these goals.

For the fitness enthusiasts out there, I like to think of myself as a 90/10 : general/specific preparatory coach for baseball and other sports.

Let’s begin with who I coach.

Who Do You Coach?

Different members of several organizations come in to train at Cressey Sports Performance (Hudson, MA location).


On a day to day basis, I can work with a member of a professional baseball team, to a high school hockey player, to a multi-sport athlete who is in the beginnings of her softball pre-season, to an executive who is on her lunch break in the middle of the day. So to say I work with only baseball players is a bit of a misunderstanding.

And no, I don’t just train people from the Red Sox organization.

What Do You Do?

Similar to last time, I function within several titles:

  • Performance Coach
  • Assess People
  • Writing Programs

Performance Coach

I like to think of myself as a human performance coach, as the name athlete brings with it several different connotations, whether good or bad. All I know is that I’m not training dogs, or other animals (that is down the hall).

So when it comes to performance – whether you are aiming to simply improve how you function on a day to day basis, or you are aiming to hurdle a fastball from the mound to the plate at 95mph – I’m all about helping you get to your destination. And there are tons of ways to improve performance.

Starting At The End

So upon coming through to our facility, I automatically begin thinking about the end goal of why you are here.

I want to get you where you want to go.

If you are talking to me about beach body stuff, and you are a baseball player, we might need to reevaluate our expectations, as the actions for both will be different than anticipated.

Some smarter people will use the phrase, “Let’s begin at the end.”

This allows us to evaluate a few things:

  1. Timeline
  2. Logistics (travel time, food allocations, other coaches/PTs/etc guidelines)

What an 11 year old should expect out of training might (and should) be different than what a 21 year old who is now a free agent should expect from lifting with us at CSP.

Biomechanical (and neurological) movement patterns need to be developed and reinforced for the 11 year old, while the 21 year old might need to break some new habits, or work around a few non-contact injuries prior to starting his exercise program.

Fitness qualities of strength, speed, and power need to be developed based on the individual’s specific task, not to mention their physical age, training age, and where they want to end up.

Nutrition will lean more on the 21 year old’s independence and ability to cook, while the 11 year old might need more assistance from his elders and guardians/parents in order to facilitate a healthier lifestyle. This is not to mention that the 21 year old will probably encouraged to consume massive amounts of food in the off-season in order to put on weight (before potentially losing it while traveling in his in-season).

Psychologically the 21 year old might have tons of different logistics going on, and will need some guidance on how to overcome these obstacles going into his off-season into his pre-season. The 11 year old will hopefully have not as many obstacles to stress out about.

Assess People

If you’re in the fitness or strength & conditioning industry, this is one of the more “sexy” aspects of being a strength coach. Whether or not you believe in assessments, or whether or not you have the appropriate skill set to approach assessments in an intelligent manner, at some point you will have to admit that you can’t program your clients’ movements blind.

With respect to the integrity of the exercise program, everything comes from the assessment, and after determining where they want to go (ie starting at the end), the exercises will fall in to place for that individual.

Appreciating different ranges of motion, whether actively or passively, is something that can be immediately implemented and accounted for when developing an exercise program.

If you cannot get into certain positions due to joint mobility restrictions, I have to question how and what you are doing from an exercise programming point of view.

So, this is where assessments come into place. Now, I’m not saying you should go get the latest weekend certification, and away you go programming the latest fad of exercises to appease your client base.

I’m of the opinion that there should be an educational tool based off of anatomy and physiology, and a skill set of requisite movements should be adhered to for programming.

You can use the right tool, at the wrong time, and it will certainly be the wrong solution.

However, use the right tool, at the right time, and people will think you’re a magician.

This “magician” like quality often (but not always) involves having years of experience of assessing, and improving and refining your thought process.

Not every new piece of information should or has to be a mind-blowing piece of information.

Investigate claims, learn new ways to view a topic, and aim to refine your toolbox.

Writing Programs

Another way to put this is I take all of the above information (logistics, amount of days you have available to working with us/me, training age, assessment information, etc.) and put it into a working list of exercises aimed at improving various fitness and sporting qualities.

There is a reason for everything.

So whether or not you are experiencing symptoms of hip impingement in your lead leg as you pitch, or you have a lack of shoulder range of motion, there is, fortunately, a method to the madness.

And depending on your specific logistics and what kind of timeline we are dealing with, it’s my goal to pick away at what we need to work on to help improve your performance or desired goals.

Hint: There is more to personal success than the exercise selection on a piece of paper.
Hint: There is more to personal success than the exercise selection on a piece of paper.

If I had a philosophy of throwing things on a wall and seeing what sticks, I wouldn’t feel the need to track down specific items.

However, I’d like to think I’m holding myself to a higher standard, so I’d like to track down different fitness markers alongside all of your other numbers in the gym!

Monitoring Information

One item I’ve been incorporating more and more is monitoring various pieces of information. It is no longer imperative to only view the biomechanical model from an assessment point of view – there are multiple ways physiology can influence how we move on a biomechanical level.

While this endeavor is in its infancy, I’d like to think it will be worthwhile, as it is providing me with some immediate feedback on what is working for my athletes, along with what is not working for my athletes.

“Everyone enjoys talking about their success. No one wants to discuss what didn’t work.”

Some of the information just makes sense.

If you can’t pass an adequate looking overhead squat, then I’m thinking something will happen when you attempt to deadlift.

If you lack ankle mobility, I’m thinking there might be something holding you back when you attempt a stride out when you pitch.

However, some of the other information might require a bigger “lens” for me to view appropriately.

If someone has had braces for 5 years, has a heart rate of 65 bpm after sitting still for 5 minutes, and has sweatier hands than a 14 year old at his first school dance (aka me), then something might be up from a physiological, biomechanical, or neurological level. I’m not sure what, but something tells me this guy won’t be able to deadlift from the floor right out of the gates. I could be wrong though.

I had braces from the 4th grade to 9th grade. I was also very uncoordinated growing up.
I had braces from the 4th grade to 9th grade. I was also very uncoordinated growing up. I turned out alright.

Miscellaneous Stuff

So as you can see, there are lots of tangibles and intangibles when it comes to the title of a “strength coach.” Managing personalities and lifestyles is a great way to put it, and it is something that I do on top of attempting to maintain a lifestyle of my own.

Writing & Social Media

I’m also a blogger (you’re obviously reading this right now on my blog!), online writer and contributor for various publications (check out my Press page), along with hosting various videos on several different social media platforms.


  Twitter @MiggsyBogues


Further, I’m also focused on developing my dance training company Enhance2Dance, training to compete in powerlifting, keep up with bboying moves every once in a while, alongside reading multiple books to stay on top of that competitive edge.  

So all in all, I’m busy to say the least! :)

As always,

Keep it funky.