What I learnt on my Sports Science Placement in Sweden

This week is my final week working in Sweden at the Centre for Health and Performance, Gothenburg. The last 10 months have truly flown by! I have been exposed to so many new environments and learning opportunities both professionally and personally.

My final blog is a way for me to both reflect on my personal experiences and to provide advice and guidance to future placement students.

Placement Highlight (s)!

Having had the opportunity to be involved in so many different projects working with a range of people it was difficult for me to pick one moment of the year as a highlight! This year I worked with lots of different athletes, from school children up to elite athletes in a variety of different sports.

I found each situation I worked in offered a new challenge and chance to develop my knowledge and interact with a new group of people, something I thoroughly enjoyed. However, if I had to select my highlights from the year they would be;

1. Strength testing the Swedish Women’s National Football Team

In the year of a World Cup the players were perhaps even more motivated and competitive than usual, and this definitely showed throughout the tests. Equally there was a buzz around the team with ‘World Cup fever’ and pre-tournament excitement definitely showing. With the world cup currently on in France it was great to be able to watch many of the players I tested line up for Sweden in their first game of the tournament Vs Chile and come away with a 2-0 win. Next up they play USA the reigning World champions, which will be a very challenging game.

Sweden Women’s National football Team at the Gamla Ullevi stadium in Gothenburg. The final warm up game before the World Cup in France.

2. The opportunity to be test leader and conduct physiology tests on current and future Olympians

I had responsibility for using very expensive equipment and clearly communicating test instructions with athletes. A challenging but also very rewarding experience. It was great to see the athletes push themselves to the max and for them to be rewarded with improved test results. They left the lab very happy, knowing that all their hard work in training had paid off.

What I have learnt about myself this year

Having lived abroad this year I have seen how independent I am in terms of travelling to new places alone and interacting with new people. I have also grown in confidence when it comes to talking with people of different ages and backgrounds.

The exposure to many test participants has helped this and it has given me many transferable skills for the future. My improved communication skills have enabled me to ‘network’ and give a positive first impression when talking with other sports science researchers and practitioners. These could be my employers or colleagues in the future!

Career plans following placement

My placement experience has opened my eyes to the many Sports Science career paths. This year has also influenced my future decisions as I am open to taking up career opportunities all over the world.

Prior to my placement I thought that by the end of the placement year I would know exactly which discipline or area I would like to work in. However, the opposite has actually happened. Placement year has enhanced my interests in multiple disciplines due to the variety in job roles, responsibilities and challenges. This has left me very excited for the future post-graduation.

Examples of Post graduate Pathways

  • Performance Lifestyle advisor
  • Laboratory manager- Physiology/Biomechanics.
  • Further study- MSc, PhD
  • Physiologist within private or public healthcare
  • Data analyst or high-performance manager at Elite sports teams
  • Exercise physiologist

These are just some examples that appeal to me; however, there are indeed many other opportunities.

Advice to students looking for a placement

My advice is to be confident in contacting companies that you are interested in to see if they offer placement opportunities. Even if they can’t help you they might be able to point you in the direction of someone who can.

Many companies will not actually advertise, but don’t be afraid to ask them about placement opportunities. Within your email it is important to provide lots of information about your interests and skills. This will enable the recipient of the email to get a better idea of who you are and it will feel more personal. A short and blunt email is a lot more likely to be ignored then a polite and detailed one.

Best of luck to anyone still searching for a placement. Keep persevering and searching for potential placements. It’s an invaluable year full of many new experiences and opportunities to develop.

The summer weather has arrived just in time for the Swedish Midsummer celebrations.