Students with a focus on the finish line

Health Science
Lauren Gourlay on her internship in Switzerland at the UCI World Cycling Centre

Lauren Gourlay on her internship in Switzerland at the UCI World Cycling Centre

The internship element of WIT’s Department of Health, Sport and Exercise Science courses gives students the perfect mix for the ‘real world’ of work

An internship in third year was a draw to Waterford Institute of Technology’s Sports Coaching & Performance course for Mayo student Lauren Gourlay.

The course is one of four undergraduate options at WIT’s Department of Health, Sport and Exercise Science including the Bachelor of Business in Recreation & Sport Management, BA (Hons) in Health Promotion and BA (Hons) in Exercise & Health Studies. All include an opportunity to be in the workplace for at least one semester with additional practical engagement in specific modules.

“I love trying new things and visiting new places, so to actually be able to work in a professional sporting environment for a year while still being a student was a great opportunity,” Lauren recalls.

Lauren has been involved in cycling for the past 12 years and has raced competitively both nationally and internationally so it’s no surprise she chose to get an internship at the headquarters of the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI), the UCI World Cycling Centre in Switzerland where there is an elite coaching and training centre.

“The practical experience is invaluable, you don't realise how much you have learnt over the past two years until you actually go to use it and coach real athletes,” says Lauren.

In school she knew she wanted to work in the sports industry – and at the time specifically in the area of sport science.

“When I first read about Sports Coaching & Performance it just seemed like the perfect mixture. I would be studying sports science while also learning how to share this information practically as a coach. It is much more useful in the 'real world' of sport.”

An added bonus was the location. Going to school in Mayo she wanted to go to a college a bit further away from home and try to live independently. Waterford was the right location, far enough from home but still only a train journey away. The fact there was a Department of Health, Sport & Exercise really enticed her.

Most of Lauren’s initial research was done online, looking at the WIT handbook and website www.wit.ie.

“I only knew two people from WIT before starting and I wasn’t able to attend the Open Day so it was taking a bit of a chance but it worked out for the best.”

Lauren has found WIT’s Department of Health, Sport and Exercise Science at WIT friendly and helpful throughout her studies. “The amount of times I have turned to the staff for help, and I have never been turned away. The department does their utmost to help and develop their students to succeed at the highest level.”

The internship has always been a focus for her. “From the day I got accepted onto the course I was always thinking of the best place to spend my internship. I had primarily hoped to work with a professional cycling team but later thought that I should shift my attention to a place where I can be more involved and be hands on.”

When she applied to the UCI World Cycling Centre for an internship, Lauren sold herself and the course. “They decided to take a chance on me,” she explains. “I went over for a week in Easter as a test run and luckily they asked me back for the year.”

The main benefits from the internship are contacts and practical experience. She also loves meeting people who share the same passion for cycling and work in the same area of the sport. “Cycling is a huge part of my life and I'm privileged to study and work in an area that I have such a passion for.”

The Department of Health, Sport and Exercise Science

The Department of Health, Sport and Exercise Science at Waterford Institute of Technology us the largest academic department in the area of health, sport and exercise science in the country. With 32 specialist staff, it has expertise in a wide variety of fields relevant to health, sport and exercise that can greatly enhance the student learning experience.

Our undergraduate programmes span the health, sport and exercise science field, attracting students from all over Ireland. These are:

BA (Hons) in Health Promotion

This is a four year honours degree that prepares students for careers in shaping public policy to ensure optimal health, and shaping environments to make it easier for people to be healthy.

BA (Hons) in Exercise & Health Studies

This is a four year honours degree that combines the disciplines of exercise science & health promotion. It is a broad based degree which also allows for specialisation in key areas.

BSc (Hons) in Sports Coaching & Performance

This is a four year honours degree programme that provides aspiring coaches from a variety of sporting backgrounds with an advanced coach education.

Bachelor of Business in Recreation & Sport Management

This is a three year degree course with the option to complete an add-on one-year level 8 course. It provides students with the necessary knowledge and skills to work in the wider Sport, leisure and business industry.

Related Courses

Bachelor of Science (Honours) in  Sports Coaching & Performance
Master of Science in  Applied Sport and Exercise Psychology
Bachelor of Science (Honours) in  Public Health & Health Promotion
Bachelor of Science (Honours) in  Health Sciences (Common Entry)
Bachelor of Business (Honours) in  Recreation & Sport Management

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