Reaching the Student-Athlete

Created by: Katie Smith, 2012-2013 Career Advising Fellow

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Tom Vecchione talks to student-athletes about SPDC resources

A strong work ethic. Endurance. Cooperation. Teamwork. Goal setting. Competition. Discipline. Communication. Dedication.

Student-athletes tend to have all of these skills and more. On top of a schedule packed full of practices, games, and travel (particularly in-season), athletes are responsible for maintaining a full course load and succeeding in the classroom as well as on the field, court, pool, or whatever their athletic arena may be.

As a former student-athlete (D3 women’s lacrosse at SUNY Geneseo), the convergence of athletics and careers is a topic of particular interest to me. For this, it was an absolute treat to spend the last two Tuesday evenings with junior-year athletes from all of the sports teams at Elon.

Student-athletes, particularly those at the Division I level, often have a very different collegiate experience than that of their peers. Athletes have busy schedules filled with commitments associated with their sport, limiting time and opportunity for engagement in other activities such as participation in and leadership roles within student organizations and the ability to hold jobs and internships in their field. While some student-athletes take on these activities in addition to their sport(s), many are unable to do so.

Because athletes’ college experiences are skewed, developing relevant professional experiences can be challenging and partnerships between athletics and career services can make a big difference for athletes’ futures. At the 2012 NASPA Conference in Phoenix, I had the opportunity to hear this conversation at a national level; career professionals from all over the country came together to share their perspectives and experiences in trying to reach the student-athlete population in a roundtable session. It’s a conversation that’s happening everywhere.

Recognizing the importance of this partnership, our office was fortunate to collaborate with the Athletic Academic Support Services team to organize and lead a presentation and mini-workshop on job search and graduate school strategies and skills for junior-year athletes. Along with our colleagues Tom Vecchione, Pam Brumbaugh, and René Jackson, Mikki and I had the opportunity to present on career topics and focused specifically on interviewing tips and elevator pitches, respectively. The presentation went quickly and simply scratched the surface of the information we could have shared. Our objective, however, was not to impart a full course load of information, but rather to remind the students to start preparing for their next steps and to help them realize the resources available to them.

Upon graduation, very few Elon athletes will continue competing in their sports at a professional level. Many will enter the traditional workforce and it is our job to make sure that athletes recognize the value in their unparalleled commitments and contributions to the Elon community. Countless skills such as drive, communication, and competitiveness can help athletes succeed in almost every environment.

Our presentations were just the tip of the iceberg but we hope that they will inspire more athletes to visit the Student Professional Development Center and start preparing for their next steps, whatever they may be.

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