Studies are constantly pointing to the positive behavioral and developmental benefits attributed to participating in sports in high school or college. While it’s nearly irrefutable that playing a sport has numerous physical health benefits, former student athletes seem to attain and hone in on mental and emotional strengths too, which translate positively in the workforce. In addition, a recent study shows that students who participated in extracurricular sports in high school or college have gone on to earn between 5 and 15 percent more than their non-sport-participating counterparts.
Most employers associate college athletes with the traits they are looking for in prospective employees. Being a college athlete isn’t like having a part-time job, it’s like having a full-time job, while going to school. Managing the hours of practice, team meetings, homework and games while going to class is difficult, and is a clear indication of a student’s work ethic. There is no question that the experience of being a college athlete and balancing all that it requires helps to prepare every athlete for the working world.
Over the years, former student athletes have proven that they possess the grit and tenacity that most employers look for in a hiring candidate. Here’s a few reasons why:
1. College athletes are goal oriented
Most college athletes have been competing their entire life. They set goals and work hard to achieve them. Athletes who play in college set goals every year, every season, every game and sometimes every day. Being goal oriented is a mindset that prospective employers are looking for in their employees.
2. College athletes have the emotional regulation skills necessary for success today
To get to the college level, most athletes have failed as many times as they have succeeded. Athletes tend to be better equipped to bounce back when things don’t go their way. College athletes learn to be mentally tough every day, even on days when they don’t feel 100 percent. For an employer, this translates into an employee who can be counted on under any set of circumstances.
3. College athletes are hard workers and good time managers
Being a college athlete is a commitment. You need to be disciplined, manage your time and sacrifice many things. A student-athletes’ schedule includes class, homework, strength training, team meetings, conditioning, practice, travel and games. In addition, they need to find the time to eat, sleep and socialize occasionally. Any student that can juggle these responsibilities while maintaining a good GPA is an excellent candidate for employment.
4. College athletes are self-confident
Admittedly, the field or the court aren’t exactly places for the timid or faint-of-heart. For the most part, athletes exude more grit and gumption in day-to-day life. Most athletes develop confidence early in their athletic careers. A self-confident, mature student-athlete who isn’t arrogant or overbearing is a great find for any employer.
5. College athletes are good teammates
Good teammates make good employees. The ability to work with others toward a common goal as a team is the epitome of a great teammate...and a great co-worker. Skilled athletes know how to be coachable, respectful, grateful and have the attitude that the goals of the team are more important than the goals of the individual. College athletes also know when to be a follower and when to take control of a situation. Upon graduation, these athletes have been a member of a team for over 15 years...so being a successful part of a team has become a habit.
6. College athletes tend to be good leaders
Right or wrong, in our society athletes tend to be looked at as leaders. Many of our United States Presidents participated in college athletics. Did you know that President Taft was a college wrestler at Yale? Taft was Yale’s first intramural heavyweight wrestling champion! President Reagan was a football star and a leader on the swim team at Eureka College! To be a good leader you have to be confident, resilient, a strong communicator and willing to put the team’s goals ahead of your own. Most athletes tend to have those traits and they usually know how to be a leader. Employers want to hire employees who have the potential to become leaders in their company.
The character traits and experience a student-athlete develops in their youth translates well in the workplace. If you have the talent and desire to play your sport in college, then you need to pursue your dream. The skills you developed as an athlete are invaluable, and your future employer knows it!