Having been lucky to step straight into a full time role on the back of my undergraduate degree, I have always been keen to develop my academic skills by completing further education without having to give up my job. I think this is important for developing research skills and broadening your knowledge base to avoid getting caught up in the intense bubble of elite sport.
I was travelling around Australia in the 2012 off season when I was first introduced to Dr Craig Duncan, who at that point was at Sydney FC. When Craig went on to become the Programme Director of the Master of High Performance Sport he sent me over the details of the course. Up until this point I was yet to find a postgraduate course that really seemed to fit with my current roles and responsibilities, whilst also being suitable to work around the current job. I was impressed by the spectrum of topics that were to be covered in this course, which carry over to the real world setting of elite sport.
I'm coming towards the end of the programme and there have been many highlights to speak of. At the very start I flew over from the UK especially for the intensive week of lectures and it was well worth it. For me, the quality of speakers was exceptional and we were spoilt to have access to them all in the same place. This quality of presenter has continued throughout on the subsequent online modules. The Injury Prevention and Management module with Dr David Opar was certainly another highlight, with expert speakers from around the world presenting on their pathology of specialism. Whilst I'm not sure you can call a research project a highlight (!) the opportunity to work with Dr Stu Cormack directly on a project and maybe (hopefully) get a publication out of it has been an amazing opportunity.
The staff both at the school and the external speakers are extremely knowledgeable and I have learnt so much. Obviously being on the other side of the world to the University has been a challenge but the staff have always been helpful in answering my queries over email.
The technology used on the course, including online resources, discussion forums and regular conference calls, allows me to stay in touch with the lecturers and partake in discussions with other students even from the other side of the world. There are opportunities to speak live to the lecturers and/or fellow students via open office sessions and likewise all the resources are available after the event if you cannot access live.
It will be a test of your time management skills but so should any good Masters programme be. For anyone joining the course from abroad I would advise you to try and get your head around the time differences and changes! I would suggest you try to have open and regular conversations with the lecturers who are helpful and if justified will help with extensions or additional resources. The main thing is just to immerse yourself in the course and try to take away as much as possible because the potential for learning is huge.
When I first started the MHPS I was working as a Sport Scientist at Chelsea Football Club in the UK. I started there as an intern in 2009 after graduating from Loughborough University with an Honours degree in Sport and Exercise Science. At the end of my internship I was offered a full time Sport Science role and stayed there for five and a half years. Since studying the MHPS I have also worked as the Senior Sport Scientist at Brighton and Hove Albion Football Club and now as of November 2015 I am working as an Applied Sports Scientist for the Buffalo Sabres NHL (ice hockey) team in the United States. I genuinely believe part of the reason for these opportunities has been thanks to the MHPS and the connections I have made through the course.
I have been extremely lucky to be a part of some amazing experiences. My time at Chelsea was particularly special because they were the team myself and my family have always supported. During my time there we won the domestic double (league and cup), the Champions League (the European club competition) and the Youth Cup numerous times at Academy level. Now to achieve my dreams of working in a different country and a different sport with the Buffalo Sabres is very exciting. However, I also think as a Sport Scientist sometimes it is the small details that maybe others don't even realise that can be the most rewarding, such as developing the nutritional support at a club, being a part of a player's return from injury and assisting in a young player's development.
My advice is to be hard working and patient because it is a very tough and competitive industry. Try to spread your network as far as possible to help you learn and connect with new people. Social media is a great way to do this via Twitter, LinkedIn, blogs etc - I have got so much personally out of writing an online blog on sportsdiscovery.net. Throw yourself into trying to learn and develop as much as possible and the MHPS is honestly a great course for doing that.