UT Athletics hosts career night
AUSTIN, Texas -- Most Longhorns fans know about the talents and skills that student-athletes throughout the UT Athletics Dept. exhibit on the field or on the court each year, but rarely take notice of the long hours that the athletes spend preparing for their careers.
Knowing that only a very few Longhorns athletes will ever get the chance to pursue a professional athletic career, the student-athletes focus on their majors of choice, building their resumes with an eye toward future employment.
They attend job fairs held at UT and meet with advisors about career opportunities, learning to network and connect with the business world along the way
To that measure, the UT Athletics academic and student services staff helps prepare Longhorns student-athletes for life after college, and hosted one of those popular job fair opportunities on Monday, Jan. 22, with the eighth annual Longhorn Career Day.
The eighth annual Longhorn Career Day, sponsored by the Student-Athlete Advisory Council at The University of Texas Club, gives UT student-athletes opportunities to meet with local, state and national business professionals in a casual setting, enabling them to develop contacts, distribute their resumes and strengthen those networking skills.
Senior football player and kinesiology major Neale Tweedie was excited about the variety of future job opportunities at career night.
"I really like the fact that we have the chance to come speak with so many people," noted Tweedie. "There are a lot of companies and they appeal to a large variety of interests."
Longhorn Career Day is administered by Dr. Mike Sanders, academic counselor and director of career development in the UT Athletics student services office.
Professionals from 34 local businesses interacted with the UT student-athletes in much the same way that college coaches interact with prospective student-athletes.
"One of the unique things about this year's career night was the addition of the panel discussion. We had four very successful former student-athletes come back to speak directly to our current athletes, and talk about transitioning from athletics into the real world," stated Sanders. "Some of the questions that they answered will be very beneficial to the current student-athletes as they begin to formulate their plans to be successful business professionals after college."
In addition to meeting with business executives at the career fair, Texas student-athletes were given the opportunity to take part in this panel discussion with the quartet of Texas Exes. The panel included former volleyball player Beth Menuet (executive vice president for Academy Sports and Outdoors), football player Alfred Jackson (principal at Davis, Hamilton, Jackson Associates), baseball player Johnny Sutton (U.S. District Attorney) and tennis player Cynthia Sampson Shipper (national account manager for Wilson Sporting Goods). They comprised the panel that answered questions about athletics and its application to the business world.
"The opportunity to get to hear someone like Beth Menuet, who was on the 1981 AIAW National Championship volleyball team, speak about her life was a lot of fun," senior volleyball player and kinesiology major Jenny Andrew noted. "Women like Beth paved the way for our volleyball program and she is now helping do the same thing in business."
Junior swimmer Daniel Rohleder echoed Andrew's sentiments.
"I thought the panel discussion was a great new addition to career night," the finance major said. "It is an outstanding chance for me and other athletes to hear former UT athletes correlate their athletics experiences to their current professions."
Longhorn Career Day serves as another reminder how the UT Athletics student services department is committed to the total student-athlete experience. Taking care of the student involves more than making academic counselors, tutors and mentors available and conducting study halls; it also entails steering the student-athlete down a path toward a successful career.
"I think having balanced academics and a sport at a great school like The University of Texas prepares you well to be successful in business," senior running back and electrical engineering major Marcus Myers stated. "Having the chance to meet with different companies tonight and speak with them about different opportunities, while showing them that UT athletes are people of character, is really an outstanding experience."
Longhorn Career Day is only a small part of the Longhorn PRIDE program that encourages the student-athlete to develop and pursue career and life goals. The PRIDE (Personal Responsibility in Developing Excellence) program has five major components which are designed to identify and meet the needs of student-athletes. Career development is only one of five components that make up the program, with academic excellence, athletic excellence, community service and personal development rounding out the program.
"Tonight was a really exciting opportunity for all of us to hear what different companies have to offer and to learn about the experiences of former UT athletes," junior softball player and sport management major Desiree Williams commented. "Mike Sanders and the whole student services office do an amazing job with everything, whether it is keeping us informed or exposing us to great events like career night."