What Athletes Can Do to Achieve Their Dreams in Their Lives After Sports

What Athletes Can Do to Achieve Their Dreams in Their Lives After Sports

The athlete’s advantage: The investment college athletes have made throughout their lives to earn the distinction of playing at the collegiate level demonstrates character traits that are highly valued by employers. These include conscientiousness, perseverance, self-regulation, optimism, goal setting, leadership, problem solving, counseling, diversity, listening, following instructions, and loyalty,


The hidden competition: While devoting upwards of 30 hours a week to their athletics and a similar amount to academics, many collegiate athletes are unaware of a parallel competitive challenge: creating a plan for convincing employers to hire them after graduation, especially as only a tiny fraction of them will earn a living by continuing their athletic careers after graduation.


For example, NCAA research shows only 1.3% of Men’s Basketball players go Pro, 1.0% of Women’s Basketball players, 2% of Football players, and 1.9% of Men’s Soccer players. Even many who have played professionally have had their careers end early through injury. So having a back-up plan started the first year of college is crucial!


Blog purpose: This blog is dedicated to helping athletes invest their limited time in building and communicating a set of achievements that will help them realize their dreams in their life after sports.


Awareness: In an age when employers are looking for specific skills and experiences, such as mastery of Microsoft Office functions and a history of successful internships and co-ops, collegiate athletes would be wise to begin to develop a career action plan at the same time and with the same dedication that they are investing in practices and classes.

The first challenge is awareness: to communicate the importance of making conscious career decisions early in their college experience to take classes, pursue work opportunities, and engage in other activities that will support a compelling case for hiring them upon graduation.

This blog presents a series of articles on how college athletes can promote themselves effectively when pursuing internships, co-ops, and full time work, using their athletic experience as a competitive advantage in their career communication.

Preview: Future blog posts will include relevant topics, each concluding with appropriate follow up actions.

Getting Started

  • Establishing and implementing a plan for career success: steps to take in each of your four years in college
  • Assessing your competition: Seeing yourself through the eyes of human resource specialists
  • Self analysis:
    • Understanding what you desire in a career
    • Exploring the past to generate information to use in career communication

Selling yourself through networking

  • Importance and impact of networking to career success
  • Understanding the five principles of networking success
    • Similarity and Proximity: Perfecting the 90-second elevator pitch
    • Asking for what you want
    • Giving back and the multiplier effect

Selling yourself through writing

  • Writing the thank you email or letter
  • Creating one and two page resumes: when to use each
  • Using a job matrix in writing effective letters of application
  • Writing other career messages


Selling yourself in job interviews

  • Getting ready for the job interview: company analysis
  • Creating a positive first impression: grooming, dress, business cards, timeliness, handshakes, listening skills
  • Preparing for and answering “screening” questions
  • Preparing for and answering “behavior based” questions
  • Responding to the “Why Should I Hire You?” Question
  • Asking appropriate questions at the end of the interview

Selling yourself through social media: Who knows you

  • Creating positive LinkedIn and Facebook profile pages
  • Posting your elevator pitch
  • Creating PowerPoint slides showing you in sports, service, school, and at work

Action Steps:

  1. Create a folder to put on your desktop into which you will drop materials relevant to your career plan.
  2. Complete the exercise below and save your answers as a first entry into your Career folder.

To help select a satisfying career path, consider issues related to your past experience. Think about what has been most satisfying to you in your jobs, schooling, and athletic competitions. Then complete the exercise below, ordering the importance of nine different reasons people enjoy work, using

  • VI for very important,
  • SI for somewhat important, and
  • UI for unimportant



Money and Benefits                                                        ______

Contributions are Recognized & Rewarded          ______

Friendly Team Members                                               ______

Responsible for Leading Others                                 ______

Competitive Environment                                            ______

Helping Others Succeed                                                 ______

Safety and Security                                                          ______

Work that Reflects my Values                                     ______

Easy Work                                                                          ______

Your answers will help you identify the kinds of work that you will find most and least rewarding.



tclark administrator

Thomas Clark, PhD, President of CommuniSkills and Professor of Management at Xavier University, has been a writing and oral communication consultant for a wide variety of businesses including Procter & Gamble, “the business writing capital of the world,” where he has led over 500 business communication workshops. He has also taught workshops for other Fortune 500 companies, including General Electric, Microsoft, Nestle, AK Steel, General Cable, Mars Petcare and Kellogg. He has published three books on business communication and one on career strategies. He has been honored with two Teacher of the Year awards at Xavier, and The US Small Business Administration has recognized him with three national awards for teaching excellence in the field of entrepreneurship. He earned his doctorate at Indiana University and is certified as an instructor in both Crucial Conversations and Crucial Accountability. Richard Zaunbrecher, BChE, MBARichard Zaunbrecher, BSChE, MBA, Vice President and Director of Communiskills’ Boston office, has a diverse background that allows him to understand and give constructive feedback on a broad range of business communication issues. He first learned sound business communication principles at Procter & Gamble, the business communication capital of the world. He has worked with CommuniSkills for 25 years and has taught both oral and written communication skills to a variety of businesses including Microsoft, Safeway, P&G dos Brazil, Gillette, AliCorp, Credit Suisse First Boston, Coca-Cola, Citibank, Viacom, Clorox, KPMG, General Electric, Union Central Insurance, Clarica, Allstate, and Prudential Insurance.

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