If you’re a student-athlete, you’ve probably heard that the ‘student’ should come before the ‘athlete,’ mainly meaning that you should prioritize classwork while being involved in athletics. That’s great advice to go by, but what happens after your senior season is over? You had a great experience as an athlete and learned a lot of life skills, but a busy schedule and heavy focus on classwork may have left you panicking about what’s next after graduation. Luckily, employers are itching to get student-athletes in the door for a number of reasons: we work hard, we do our part on a team, and our time management skills are unmatched. Here are a couple tips and talking points if you’re looking to sell your athletic experience to prospective employers.
Teamwork makes the dream work.
Companies are all about collaboration; if different roles and departments can’t work together, it’s pretty hard to function as a well-oiled machine. That’s why collaboration is the first thing I usually talk about when I’m building an elevator pitch; it’s probably one of the first things that comes to mind when you think of your time as a student-athlete, so if you’re nervous in an interview and your brain draws a blank, teamwork is the easiest straw to grasp at. Also, you can easily demonstrate that you can work on a team simply by the amount of teams you’ve been on. All of your teams have had different people with different personalities that you’ve had to work with to accomplish a common goal. If that isn’t a translatable skill to an office setting, I don’t know what is.
Work Hard to Work Hard.
Being a student-athlete is tough: morning lifts, late night practices, doing homework on long bus trips, not to mention the actual physical activity part. All of that is hard work. It’s also a perfect example of how you’re a hard worker. Interviewers love hearing examples of the different qualities and skills that you say you have, but when you’re a student-athlete, it goes without saying that you’re willing to work hard to get the job done. In a 2016 Job Outlook Report, employers cited a strong work ethic as one of the top things they look for on a candidate’s resume (https://www.naceweb.org/store/2017/job-outlook-2017/). Go ahead and check that box!
Semesters when you’re in season are crazy. You learn pretty quickly that your free time has to be managed well enough to get everything done that needs to be done when it needs to be done. Time management is a hard skill to teach to someone who doesn’t see its importance. Even if your time management isn’t the best, you still recognize how important it is from being a student-athlete and you’ll do everything you can to not miss a deadline.
Here are some other important skills you can speak on from your student-athlete experience and how to articulate them on a resume:
Time management: Balanced a rigorous schedule of full-time athletics, travel, and classes while maintaining a sound academic standing and developing productivity habits to get more done in less time.
Teamwork: Focused on maximizing team effort toward unified goals and served as an example of teamwork to underclassmen. Consistently met goals for personal and team improvement.
Work Ethic: Consistently demonstrated hard work, determination, and perseverance through adverse circumstances and sometimes pain or illness. Focused effort, sacrifice, and motivation toward achieving personal and team goals.
Coachability: Developed ability to comprehend and retain information quickly and apply knowledge to the task at hand. Received and gave constructive criticism to achieve results, not resentment.
Resilience: View mistakes as learning opportunities to continue personal and team progression. Faced adversity with the ability to move past the negative emotions that typically follow failure.
Being able to articulate the skills you’ve developed as a student-athlete in a way that really sells them can help to make your resume, cover letter, or answers to interview questions really stand out to a prospective employer. You’ve put in a lot of time and hard work, now use it to your advantage!
Author: Emily Risch