Chris Wolfinger ’15 has come a long way from when he first played ice hockey at the age of five. He now holds the position of Head Athletic Trainer at the San Jose Barracuda Hockey Club, an AHL affiliate of the San Jose Sharks. For Wolfinger this is a dream come true. He explains, “It’s been a dream of mine to work in professional ice hockey. Now that I’m in the field, it’s been exciting having the opportunity to apply the skills and knowledge I’ve obtained to helping these professional athletes participate at their highest potential physically and mentally.” His interest in hockey has influenced his choices academically and now professionally. “Growing up playing ice hockey really molded my career aspirations. I knew I wanted to work in the medical field and knew that the athletic training/physical therapy route would be a good way to get there.”
Wolfinger knows from experience the value of internships and how they can lead to career opportunities. Describing his experience he said, “I would go in and shadow the San Jose Sharks medical staff whenever I had the opportunity. Each time I went in I would offer to help in any capacity. I demonstrated confidence in my skills and developed a good rapport with both the staff and players. These small opportunities eventually led to the opportunity to apply and eventually interview for the position I currently hold.”
Wolfinger was able to transfer many of the skill acquired during his time at Pacific into his role working with the players of the San Jose Barracudas. He explains, “I was able to develop high level manual therapy skills, as well as examination and evaluation of musculoskeletal injuries during my time at Pacific. The trend of professional sports seems to be going towards hiring a team PT. Having the DPT degree provided me with a high level of critical thinking skills as well as injury pattern recognition and quality treatment strategies.”
His advice for students pursuing internship opportunities is to “Be the hardest worker in the room, in whatever setting you go into.” To make the most of an internship, networking is key. When networking he recommends acting with professionalism in all interactions. He said, “Be professional when sending emails [and making] phone calls to potential employers.” He adds, “It doesn’t hurt to send a resume in your introduction email, that way the employer can start to get a feel for you who are.”
He again emphasized the importance of hard work and dedication. “It’s all about putting in the time and hard work, whether that’s in the world of academia or the professional world. Be confident with the skills and experience you obtained while in school.” Reflecting on his experiences, he expressed that he would “absolutely” facilitate an internship if he had the capacity to do so and he strongly encourages his fellow alumni to do so as well.
To learn about how your business or organization could host an internship please contact Casey Nesbit, PT, DPT, DSc, PCS, Director of Clinical Education, at 209.946.2399 or firstname.lastname@example.org. To hear about upcoming networking events follow us at www.facebook.com/PacificPaHSAlumni.
By Anne Marie H. Bergthold