Texas senior wide receiver Brian Carter's knack for tracking down Vince Young's passes and eluding tackles may enable him to pursue a professional football career when his collegiate eligibility expires. But, given the uncertainties student-athletes face while chasing their dreams of playing professionally, creating a career plan outside of professional athletics always is the wisest choice.
"Every athlete has to realize at some point that his playing days eventually come to an end," Carter, an accounting major, explained. "You always want to have another plan."
That's why Carter and 130 UT student-athletes took advantage of Longhorn Career Day, Monday night (Nov. 14). Sponsored by the Student-Athlete Advisory Council at the University of Texas Club, this was the seventh annual Longhorn Career Day. It gives UT student-athletes opportunities to meet with local business professionals in a casual setting, enabling them to develop contacts, distribute their resumes, and strengthen their networking skills.
Administered by Dr. Mike Sanders, the director of career development in the UT Athletics student services office, the 2005 Longhorn Career Day allowed professionals from 32 local businesses to interact with UT student-athletes in much the same way that college coaches interact with prospective student-athletes.
"The recruiters here are looking for the same characteristics coaches look for when they pursue an athlete," noted Sanders. "They want someone who can deal with adversity; someone who can multi-task, both academically and athletically, and someone who can achieve success no matter what happens to them. What's good in the athletic field is good in the business world, as well."
As Sanders explained, qualities exuded by a student-athlete often extend seamlessly to the business world. As the starting point guard for Jody Conradt's nationally-ranked women's basketball team, senior Nina Norman has developed the necessary leadership qualities desired by anyone who has ever hired an employee. Like Carter, Norman likely will pursue a career in professional athletics but is seriously taking the time to explore other options.
"My career depends on where this (basketball) journey takes me," said Norman, a corporate communications major. "Right now, I am dealing with some injuries and trying to get back on track, athletically. I'm just going to take anything that comes to me right now. I am here looking for good opportunities and good jobs and to do a little bit of networking."
Norman was quick to note the importance of developing business contacts at Longhorn Career Day.
"It's very important because it gives you a chance to get your name out there," added Norman, who met with representatives from New York Life Insurance and the Round Rock Express, among others. "You get to know people, which is good, because a lot of people know you from watching you play your sport and do media interviews, but you don't know them. I think that's the big thing…starting connections."
Longhorn Career Day also offered international student-athletes the opportunity to position themselves for employment in the United States. A native of Poland, women's basketball senior forward Daria Mieloszynska utilized Longhorn Career Day as a chance to learn more about local companies.
"This is really helpful for me, because I had no clue about any of the companies or job opportunities (in Austin)," explained Mieloszynska, an Eastern European Studies major. "Longhorn Career Day has given me the perfect chance to research potential employers, reach out to people and find more information on what their companies have to offer."
Though she has a little more time than her senior counterparts to prepare for life after collegiate athletics, women's track and field junior All-America thrower Michelle Carter knows it is never too early to explore post-college employment opportunities.
"Coming to Longhorn Career Day will help me get ready for what I want to do after I graduate," Carter, a liberal arts major, explained. "I can find out what employers are looking for and what they expect from new employees."
Carter added that the benefits of attending Longhorn Career Day extend to all UT student-athletes, not just juniors and seniors who have less time to consider their career choices.
"I think this event can be really helpful, especially for sophomores," Carter explained. "Attending an event like this one will help them prepare for their junior and senior years. They can have their career plans laid out ahead of time instead of just using their senior years to rush to get ready."
All-Big 12 women's tennis junior Ristine Olson, an elementary education major who spoke with representatives from Teach for America, echoed Carter's sentiments.
"This is a great opportunity to get your foot in the door and get to know lots of people from around the city and state," Olson said. "You can give employers your resume, get your name out there and receive valuable information in return. It can be really beneficial to do this early on so you have options."
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.
"We have a duty to prepare the student-athletes for life when they leave our setting," Sanders said. "Whether they want to pursue a career in professional athletics or not, they need to be aware of other opportunities that exist when they finish school."