Many colleges and universities offer a robust career development center or program. Career entities on campus reach several students, and are often open to any student wishing to capitalize on the resources provided. However, one population of students can be missed: student-athletes.
Some institutions provide career preparation specific for student-athletes within other resources and services geared towards this population. Due to staffing, budgets, and other challenges, unfortunately not all institutions are positioned to have offices and/or staff dedicated to working with student-athletes. Regardless of the structure of our respective institutions, the responsibility lies with each of us as student affairs professionals to meet the needs of all students, athletes included.
Due to having a very different college experience than many traditional students, student-athletes are often not able to participate in co-curricular programs and opportunities. Studies show student-athletes spend an average of 28 hours per week on team-related functions, including practices, games, and other requirements. Throw in classes, eating, sleeping, and studying, this leaves little to no time for other forms of campus involvement such as internships and organizations. As statistics show, an extremely small percentage of college student-athletes ever go on to compete at the professional level. Be it immediately following graduation or after years in professional competition, student-athletes, like all students, will eventually enter the work force. Given the high demand on student-athletes’ time, it is imperative to meet them where they are in order to provide quality preparation and development regarding their transition out of college and into the work force.
One useful outlet for meeting student-athletes where they are is during study hall. Most colleges and universities enforce some amount of study hall hours for their athletic teams. Utilizing this time to capture student-athletes’ attention while also providing a productive, useful activity can have significant benefits. This setting also creates opportunity for partnership with various offices across campus. For example, hosting a resume workshop during a popular study hall time. Invite the career services office from your institution to come to study hall to conduct a workshop around articulating the student-athlete experience in resumes, cover letters, and interviews. Student-athletes gain valuable skills by being on a team, such as time management, working in diverse groups, communication, and various leadership capabilities. However, often times student-athletes do not see these things in themselves or do not understand how to explain what they have gained by being a member of a team. Most of the skills they do gain are things that top employers are looking for in their employees. Taking time to develop a resume around their unique skills and experiences within athletics can position student-athletes to be successful after their time in sport has concluded.
Some helpful resources on assisting student-athletes in building a competitive resume without the traditional college student experience are listed below. Reaching this population will benefit the students, the athletics department, and the university as a whole.