Career fair affords student-athletes excellent business opportunities
The suites on the ninth floor of the University of Texas Club always are filled with individuals who are fans of the Longhorns.
But on this mid-November evening, the people in the suites were not so much interested in what the athletes were doing in their sport, but what they were doing in the classroom.
They were interested in how they spoke.
They were interested in the impression they made.
On this night, those "fans" were businessmen and women looking for just the right UT student-athlete who could make a contribution to their company, either as an intern while in school or as a full-time employee when their college career was completed.
Longhorn Career Day is the handiwork of Dr. Michael Sanders in student services.
In a very short time, thanks to Sanders' effort, this event has grown from a handful of companies coming to talk to student-athletes to an evening-long affair, featuring firms that came as far as New York, Florida and California for the opportunity to recruit UT student-athletes.
There were 31 companies on hand, some of which already had UT student-athletes as full-time employees.
Also this time, the Student Athlete Advisory Council (SAAC) was involved in making certain the student-athletes were aware of the event and the excellent chance it presented each of them to make contacts.
Katey Porter, the vice president of the SAAC and a coxswain on the rowing team, is an advertising major from Houston. She was front and center during the event.
"For a lot of athletes, their sport -- and school -- is all they have time to do, so it is very difficult to get internship opportunities or even make the contacts," said Porter, who is a senior. "Something like this career fair is so important for the athletes to take advantage of, since the companies are here just to see us."
That's why senior football players Mike Garcia, William Winston and Kyle Phillips were there . . . and could be seen talking to Gunn, who was drafted and played for the Cincinnati Bengals.
That's why senior forward Daria Mieloszynska of the women's basketball team leaned against a table and poured over the list of companies.
"I really would like to teach and work with underprivileged children," said Mieloszynska, a native of Poznan, Poland, who headed toward the suite where the representatives of Teach For America were located.
Hoffman, who was a standout member of the women's swimming and diving team, serving as co-captain as a senior, was hired as an intern with North Star Resource Group at this event a year ago. She began her internship after graduation in May and her demeanor and work ethic so impressed the company that she became a full-time employee in September.
"When you are competing all of the time, there really is not time to do much else and you get to the end of your college career with little work experience," said Hoffman, who was a finance major at Texas.
Hoffman said during last year's career fair her interest was piqued by the North Star Resource Group, which is one of the top 10 financial planning firms in the world and has been in business since 1908.
"I worked 20 to 30 hours a week as an intern," Hoffman said. "I liked the people and the atmosphere in the office. I did a variety of things, working a lot with doctors. The more I was there, the more confidence I got.
"Also, it is a team, just like the one you were on at Texas. You work together toward a goal, but there also is the ability to compete against each other, pushing each other to be better to help to achieve the team goal."
Hoffman admitted having to adjust to not necessarily seeing instant results, as she got while competing in a swimming and diving meet.
"In the business culture, you sell yourself to people every day and it may be awhile before you know exactly how well you have done," Hoffman said.
Dressendorfer has gone from student-athlete to major league pitcher to business executive. He is director of media and public relations for the Express. He was in attendance because as a former UT student-athlete he wants to do what he can to assist his school.
"Anyone with a UT background has talent and discipline to have graduated from this school," he said. "And an athlete has put in the time and shown the dedication to his or her sport. That kind of person makes a good employee for a business."
Kristie Griffin, the human resources manager for Stryker, a worldwide leader in medical services devices based in San Jose, Calif., already has hired two former UT student-athletes and is readying to hire a third for Stryker's office in Dallas.
"I like having former athletes in sales and marketing because their aggressiveness is important," said Griffin, who played basketball at Cal Poly-San Luis Obisbo. "Athletes are competitive and highly-motivated. What better characteristics for your employees?"
Griffin talked about the respect she has for Sanders and what he is doing at UT and also said she was impressed with the caliber of people who were student-athletes at Texas.
"I'll keep coming back here," she said. " Texas has just the kinds of individuals I am looking for at Stryker."