BOCA RATON, Fla. -
Everyone has heard the statistics. Only an extremely small percentage of collegiate athletes continue their playing careers post-graduation. While Florida Atlantic University Athletics encourages and helps student-athletes excel in their respective sports, the larger focus is to help the student-athletes excel in the classroom and to prepare them for the professional world after their playing days are over.
The FAU Student-Athlete Center for Academic Excellence (SACAE) plans and executes career programming throughout the year for the student-athletes. In preparation for spring and summer graduation, SACAE has focused their efforts on ensuring these juniors and seniors are equipped with the tools they need to succeed at the next level.
"FAU athletics is fully committed to preparing our student athletes to be the leaders of tomorrow," said SACAE Director and Associate AD Eric Coleman. "Our commitment to our athletes isn't just for athletic eligibility. We also strive to make sure they are eligible for life after sport. It is well documented that the student-athletes have very demanding schedules, which can limit their opportunities for internships and job shadowing. However many of our student-athletes possess transferrable skills such as time management, leadership, teamwork and resilience that many employers desire."
On March 27, the SACAE held an etiquette dinner at Ruth's Chris Steakhouse to help with proper dining protocol and expose the student-athletes to a meal in a professional setting. At the beginning of April, SACAE set up both mock phone and in-person interviews to provide the individuals with tips and techniques for nailing a job interview.
One of the most beneficial annual SACAE events is the Career Fair. The Owls gathered in the FAU Football Stadium Recruiting Room to hear from guest speaker Chip Jones, director of advisor relations and marketing at Polen Capital. He leads a talented team responsible for providing full-service to over 1,600 financial advisors with over 15,000 clients. Prior to joining Polen Capital in 2014, Jones was a senior leader for more than 23 years in the U.S. Marine Corps. Jones received his B.A. in Business Management from the University of Colorado, where he was a member of the football team, and earned his M.A. from King's College of London. He is currently continuing his education at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern.
Jones had several very clear messages for the student-athletes. One of which was to expect challenges on the road to success.
"Let's use softball and baseball players as an example. Every time they swing the bat, is it a home run? No. There are some strikeouts right. There are a lot of strikeouts," said Jones. "Expect when you enter the workplace that there may be some strikeouts, and that's okay. It's what you do following that that makes a difference. Don't let disappointments or road blocks derail you from what your passions are."
Another tactic that Jones stressed was the importance of building your circle and identifying your "who", which are the individuals that will mentor you and help you along your journey.
"My personal board of directors provided me with the guidance I needed to be successful," said Jones. "All the individuals in the room here, all the individuals in your career and academic center are the individuals that are going to mentor you. They are going to be in your personal board of directors. Everybody that is here tonight will be willing to help you with your resume; will be willing to help you with interviews and with questions. They're here because they believe in what you guys have and the opportunities that you can bring. I am excited for the next chapter of your life."
Several companies and local businesses were onsite, many of which were looking for potential interns and employees. The student-athletes were able to speak with these representatives, hand out resumes and discuss potential job opportunities with the following organizations: Seven Hills Global, Rocket Matter, Cargo Solutions, Enterprise, VentureTech Solutions, MSi Consulting, City Furniture, Northwestern Mutual, American Traveler, West Palm Beach Police Department, Valic, Barton Associates, FAU Graduate College and the FAU Career Center.
There was nothing but smiles and words of appreciation from the student-athletes as they spoke with the organizations and individuals around the room.
"I think this is a great experience," said FAU swimmer Rachel Rende. "It is a learning experience to see what you can do with your degree and what you can do that you didn't even know about as well as just build your resume and really get the one-on-one experience with someone at a more personable level."
"I think this event is great, and it's so useful that FAU puts this on for all the student-athletes," said FAU men's golfer Chris Thomas. "It's a big help going into the real world in a few years whether you're a junior or senior. I'm really thankful that FAU sets this up for us."
To get involved with the SACAE and the career development series, contact Nicole Alderson, Associate Director of the Student Athlete Center for Academic Excellence, at email@example.com.