About a month ago, I wrote an article pertaining to this topic because it is something I’ve been struggling with. Sometimes, it’s hard to imagine how I will measure up in the workforce next to my colleagues that spent their time doing part-time jobs or gaining real work experience. However, once I sat down to think about it, I realized that my athletic career has given me the tools I need to succeed.
As a Division I student-athlete, it is not uncommon to hear people say things like, “You’re an athlete? That’s so wonderful. I bet that will help you get lots of job offers!” However, student-athletes often ponder this notion and wonder if what they’ve done in college will be enough in the eyes of a potential employer.
Athletes have to juggle classes, tutors, studying, workouts, strength and conditioning, rehab, appointments, travel, and games all at the same time.
That number of obligations makes it difficult to compete with the non-student athlete when it comes to school organizations, involvement, and sometimes GPA. The bottom line is that some athletes worry that they may be missing something pivotal that employers are looking for on their resume, due to their commitment to college athletics.
In an article titled Why Your Next Employee Should Be a Former Student-Athlete, Stephanie Vozza outlines the five reasons given by Vincent McCaffrey, CEO of Game Theory Group, as to why employers should be hiring former student-athletes. His five reasons detail that student-athletes are achievement oriented, resilient, strong communicators, team oriented, and they manage time well.
As a former student-athlete, I’ve often thought about how my time as a Division I gymnast for Auburn University will compare to the accomplishments of my classmates who did not participate in collegiate athletics.
As I read the aforementioned article, I discovered some similar and some additional attributes I learned through gymnastics that I hope will help me in my future career. Here are just a few that I think most former student-athletes can relate to:
Time Management. As mentioned above, student-athletes have to juggle many different obligations every single day. They learn from a young age how to keep the balance between school, family, friends, and their sport. This will easily translate to task management in the office someday.
Accountability. As a student-athlete, your coaches, administration, tutors, support services, professors, teammates, and students all have high expectations for you. Athletes know how to take responsibility for their actions and how to follow-through with the tasks they’ve been assigned. In the workplace, the former student-athlete will be a reliable employee who knows the importance of getting things done on time and in the right way.
Determination. Athletes don’t like to lose, that’s an obvious fact. However, they do know what it’s like to lose and how to handle the feelings that come with a loss or rejection. Regardless, they push forward, toward their goals because they’re determined to reach their full potential. Student-athletes don’t shy away from a challenge and will fight to accomplish their goals. As an employee, this means former student-athletes will constantly be striving toward success in their respective fields.
How to be Coachable. To be a student-athlete, you had to complete years and years of rigorous training, constantly striving to improve to get to the next level. In order to do that, student-athletes have to be able to take constructive criticism and put it to good use. In the workforce, it’s key that an employee knows how to accept that kind of feedback and use it to take steps in a positive direction.
Teamwork. There are plenty of different personalities that make up a team, and everyone has a different idea on what’s the best way to reach the National Championship. At the end of the day, teams only become successful if the student-athletes know how to move toward a goal in unity. In their careers, these former student-athletes are going to need to rely on this skill. They will be able to compromise, be respectful, and work positively with co-workers and bosses.
Flexibility/Adaptability. Line-ups change at the last minute, another player gets injured, practice has to be re-scheduled, tests have to be taken on the road with a proctor…things happen. A student-athlete always has to be prepared and ready to go. The in-the-moment nature of athletics teaches student-athletes to be ready for any circumstance. In their future careers, former student-athletes will be adaptable and flexible in all areas. Changed deadlines, new appointments, surprise visits from the boss, sick co-worker, weekend call-in? These are no match and are no surprise to the former student-athlete. They’ll be ready to go and ready to accept the challenges that are ahead.
How to Be a Leader. Whether they’re a natural born leader or not, every student-athlete has had to step up in a leadership role at one point or another. If there’s an issue to be handled in the gym or outside of it, relationship issues on the team, or any other important matter, a student-athlete has to know when and how to address it. Student-athletes often volunteer a lot in the community, and know how to communicate well with others. In their future careers, they will already be equipped with the tools to address any issues that pop up, and they’ll know how to get everyone on the right track.
Although not every former student-athlete is going to walk off the field, into the office, and become CEO of the next biggest company, this information does imply that most student-athletes will experience success when done with their athletic careers.
Personally, reflecting on the qualities that I’ve obtained through being a student-athlete has given me a wave of affirmation. I am confident that my fellow student-athletes and I will be viable assets once we start climbing the ladders to our careers.