As a collegiate athlete, I spent a great deal of my time at practice and travelling to and from games. My commitment to athletics did not permit me to gain much work experience in the business world. I knew I wasn’t going to be a professional athlete and that eventually, I would be competing for a career with many other graduates. My coaches told me that my participation in collegiate sports would help me later in life, but I wasn’t exactly sure what they were talking about. Would making a free throw or running sprints help me in my career? Like so many lessons in life, I was learning more than I knew at the time. Here are some of the transferable skills I gained from playing college sports.
My teams were made up of people who spoke different languages, held dissimilar beliefs, and grew up in every environment, from the inner city to small farm towns. We all came together and worked toward common goals as one well-oiled machine. Our individual differences were small compared to the team goals we shared. Just as important as it is to any sports team, a successful business must also embrace diversity and encourage different points of view to effectively pursue a common goal.
When our team arrived at an opposing team’s campus, the home team employed every strategy possible to defeat our team. We rose to the challenge together and overcame obstacles in our pursuit of success. We didn’t always win, but just like in the business world, we had to show up every day ready to perform at our highest level.
After a long day of class lectures, exams, and walking around a large campus, all I wanted was to take a nap! Personal discipline drove me to get up and attend classes in the morning, go to practice in the afternoon and study every evening – even on game nights. In the business world, every hour counts. Scheduling the day and prioritizing tasks is a critical part of running a successful business.
Most college players were the best on their high school team – if not in their entire state – but it is rare for a freshman to be the top player on a college team. It was a drastic change for me to pick up a new team strategy while observing from the sidelines. I learned patience, humility, perseverance, and how to accept and apply constructive criticism. In the business world, adapting to changing circumstances, being a problem solver, and maintaining a positive attitude are key to building a rewarding and successful career.
College athletes often have a very high-profile role both on campus and in the community. When I wore my jersey and the school colors, I knew my actions reflected upon my team and the university. Because of this visibility, athletes have a responsibility to represent more than themselves and serve as was a brand ambassador every day. In the business world, a company’s reputation is an important aspect of its overall success. And, just as important is how employees represent their brand to the communities they serve.
In conclusion, companies today are looking for employees who can collaborate well on diverse teams, compete at a high level and effectively manage their time. Each team member must passionately commit to personal career growth, learn from others and represent the company’s brand. I didn’t realize it until I started at Enterprise 17 years ago, but I had been learning these lessons since my early years playing college sports. I am grateful to the coaches who challenged me and grateful that Enterprise recognized these traits that could help me and many other former college athletes succeed in the company.