carnegieXchange: School of Sport

Time Flies - Liam Oliver

Now then! It has been a while since I last wrote a blog post. I wanted to catch myself up, as well as anybody who might be interested! I hope you all had a fantastic Christmas and New Year.

Published on 18 Jan 2019
Liam Oliver
For me, it was nice to relax a little more over the past month with much less time in University over the holidays. Balancing exam revision with downtime, extracurricular applied practice and a casual job on the side has been no easy task yet I think I manage it fairly well! Looking back, I probably have Uni-related work 20 hours a week, Uni contact time 10-12/week and my casual job is another 10-12 hours on weekends. For any students wondering about the transition from undergraduate to an MSc, I can 100% vouch for the fact that it IS manageable to do other things alongside a full-time MSc (usually about 3 days a week for timetabled sessions).
The time off we’ve had, however, has made me realise I’m a restless soul. It’s been strange checking emails and having no updates, not commuting to Uni, and generally having much more time to play around with. Keeping my calendar updated and scheduling in both work and downtime has been very useful, meaning I finished my assignments in good time before the deadlines and had both more space to breathe and time to think. This time to think was both my friend and foe. I’m used to doing something to keep me occupied, yet the extra spare time meant it dawned on me: I’m halfway through my MSc. It’s now semester two. Soon I’ll be finishing! I strive to ensure everything I do is working towards something. An investment in myself. Always thinking about my next steps. This is great and the ‘delayed gratification’ approach (google this is if interested in long-term thinking) has been something I thrive on. The sheer energy going into searching for career options, researching the requirements and reading up to fine-tune the areas and developments I’m interested in meant I ‘burned out’ a little. It wasn’t until I called a couple of sports nutritionists and good friends of mine that I realised this, as well as a recent meeting with a mentor, all of these interactions lasted an hour and it now seems like I had things to get off my chest. Importantly, these people share my passion and I cannot emphasise how much I appreciate such connections.

A few key take-homes from me from my time on the MSc thus far:

– Apply Yourself – the Applied Practice programme I was fortunate enough to enrol on at Uni has so far provided me with opportunities to lead one-to-one and group consultations with athletes, performance physiological testing, develop different sport-specific resources and deliver presentations to a range of athletic populations at different stages in their career. Yes, this is a large ‘investment’ from myself, yet to me right now time is possibly the biggest investments I can offer are 1) TIME and 2) EFFORT. You get out what you put in. Show yourself and those around you what you are capable of, but be self-aware. This leads me to…

– Reflection – It only takes a quick look back through my academic calendar to see the meetings, 07:30am lab starts, back-to-back nutrition consultations, lectures/seminars and presentations, researching hours and all sorts I’ve probably done as well. But we often don’t reflect enough. It can be easy to forget to do so, which is why I like these blogs! A big thing for me is: you should aim to be self-aware. Realise you shouldn’t be wary that reflecting is “blowing your own trumpet”. It’s not. It’s devoting time to an in-depth, tracking of progress. Strengths, weaknesses, threats, consequences, solutions. You’ve done them all. You’ve overcome some. Others you may really need to work on (I know I do!). Think what works for you and set goals. You might know how, you might not, which leads me to – finally…

– Mentorship – The beauty of University has been the careful weighting of independence and reassurance, with progressions and regressions in both. Being confident in yourself is important, but not too much so (avoid that Dunning-Kruger effect!). Sometimes you may have a confidence ‘high’, sometimes and ‘imposter syndrome’ kind of low. These fluctuations appear only natural to me now. Forging an established, agreed mentor-mentee relationship has really allowed me to stretch and manoeuvre my approach to learning, revision, presentation skills, consultation topics, goal-setting, career aspirations, and has ultimately led to more opportunities created by both myself and my mentor. A mentor is certainly not a hand to hold you through *every* step of the way and spoon-feed you. More a shepherd to guide you and, in my case, sometimes book out a whole hour from their schedule when they know a student can be a “talker” about a topic they’re passionate about. Building that rapport has made me much more self-aware and thankful that I have such proactive and caring people at my disposal. Use a mentor wisely and appropriately and, hopefully, the positivity and progress will accumulate.

Thanks for reading. All the best!