Gaining Experience While Competing As An Athlete
Athletes face a lot of time management challenges: as student-athletes, life is full of balancing your athletic responsibilities, classroom commitments, and being a human being. Things don’t get that much easier as a professional or Olympian.
As a student-athlete, you have the opportunity to develop your soft skills, or as we at NexGoal call them “biodata.” The inherent skills that you possess (attitude, work ethic, passion, leadership, communication, and focus) are sharpened in the day-to-day grind as an athlete.
Actively participating in your SAAC (Student-Athlete Advisory Committee) will offer many opportunities. Volunteer to lead projects, such as food drives, talent shows, networking events with local business leaders, etc. These are great “bullet points on the resume” and give future employers a glimpse of your actual and potential skills.
For example, organizing a food drive may involve
- advertising and planning the event
- connecting and working with a local charity
- arranging the logistics of transporting the donated items
- scheduling the personnel to work the event
If you serve as the project manager, keep track of the results. Statistics are a great way to illustrate your success: “Largest food drive event for Anytown’s local food bank in 2013, collecting 3,000 lbs.”
Joining student chapters of professional organizations offer exposure to your future colleagues and profession. Try to make the time to participate in these groups, whether it is attending a job fair or networking with your classmates. Ask your classmates who are regular attendees for their advice on events to attend or how to staying in the loop.
For athletes at the professional level, the community relations department is always looking for volunteers for hospital visits, camps, and appearances. Those opportunities, as well as those by teammates who host their own charity events, offer the chance to build your network with local business leaders and build your personal brand.
Externships (job shadowing) aren’t as formal as an internship or co-op, but the flexibility of time is on your side, either as a student-athlete or professional. Reach out to academic advisers, coaches, mentors, professors, or team personnel for suggestions and contacts. Conduct some research on the industries in your area — even local team sponsors.
If externships don’t fit your schedule, contact companies that you are interested in and ask for an informational interview. Contact the human resources department, or if you have a contact with that company, see if they suggest a specific team member to speak with about a particular area. Not only is it a way to start building your network of contacts, but when the time is right, it may lead to an opportunity to create an externship/internship with that company that works within the confines of your schedule or after you are done competing.
If you are a student-athlete, be sure to arrange the externship up with your academic adviser and make sure that everything is in place so as not to violate your amateur status.At NexGoal, we’ve made the transition from athletics to the working world. Specializing in placing former athletes with our corporate clients, we find the perfect match by identifying, attracting, qualifying, and placing the “best of the best” athlete-candidates with our corporate clients. Our team of experienced search consultants (former athletes themselves) find the perfect fit for both parties. Next week, we’ll focus on networking tips.