Esme – Physiologist at the EIS
What attracted you to this job?
I’ve always loved watching and taking part in sport, even from a very young age, so I knew that I wanted to be involved in working in sport. Unfortunately I don’t have the natural talent to be an elite athlete, so the next best thing in my opinion was to work with them. Trying to make the best athletes in the world even faster and stronger is a big challenge, and something I was excited about being part of.
What does your typical day involve?
Work usually starts at around 8am and if it’s a normal training day for the athletes I would finish at 5.30-6pm. A typical day working in the laboratory would involve testing and monitoring athletes on stationary ergometers specially designed for cyclists. I would need to set up all of the equipment and test it to make sure everything works, the athlete’s would then complete the testing which might involve me taking blood samples off them or collecting samples of the air they breathe in and out. I then need to tidy everything away and analyse all the data I have collected before feeding it back to the athlete and coach. I also do some testing at competitions which involves me travelling all over the world working in forests with mountain bikers, or travelling around Europe with road cyclists. A typical day at a competition starts at 7am and I would finish work at about 10.30pm so they are very long days which sometimes last for 2 weeks with no days off.
What gives you the most job satisfaction?
Job satisfaction comes from seeing a project you have been working on improve an athlete’s performance. In this job we are always aiming for the athlete’s to produce the best performance possible, and it’s exciting to see how science can contribute towards this.
What do your friends and family think about your job?
My friends and family think my job is really exciting, they are always asking about what I’ve been doing at work every day. The reaction I usually get when I tell people what I do is “that is such a cool job”, and everyone always wants to know more about what I do.
Tell us more about your environment in terms of work-life balance
In the high performance sport environment you are expected to work the hours it takes to get the job done, so occasionally my work life outweighs the rest of my life, however I love my job and enjoy reading about science outside of work so I don’t really mind.
How did you get to where you are today?
My first step towards this job was doing PE at GCSE, and I then went on to do PE and human biology at A Level and an undergraduate degree in Sport Science at Northumbria University. Part of my degree was to do a 6 week work placement of our choice, and I chose to do mine at the English Institute of Sport (EIS). Following on from that I did an extra 12 months of voluntary work there, just going in for 5-6 hours per week while I finished my degree. My first paid job was as an administrator working for weightlifting, and after that I did an internship in physiology. Luckily a job came up straight after my internship working as a physiologist at EIS with British Cycling athletes.
What advice would you give to someone thinking of following your career path?
Get as much experience as you can working in sport and make sure you fully research the qualifications you need for your dream job and start working towards that as soon as you can.
How well is your job compensated? What is the starting salary for someone in your field and how much can this be expected to rise?
Starting salary is between £18,000-23,000 and increases approximately every 4 years by around £5,000, but this is dependent on how quickly you progress in your job role.
What kind of hobbies or extracurricular activities do you do to relax?
As I am away so often my ‘out of office’ hobbies are quite boring. I enjoy doing normal things like going out for dinner and shopping! As I love sport I will try and do some kind of exercise (going to the gym, playing netball or touch rugby… anything really!) at least 3 or 4 times a week as well as watching any sport live or on TV. My favourite sport to watch live is rugby, the atmosphere is always amazing and they are great athlete’s to watch.
Have there been any embarrassing moments?
Fortunately nothing too embarrassing has happened to me yet (apart from having to wee outside at a mountain bike race in Italy as there were no toilets anywhere!!!).
For more information about the English Institute of Sport please click here or watch the video below.