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How Your Sports Career Translates To The Business World

As a professional athlete, you may be hard pressed to find how exactly your career can translate into the business/corporate structure. You are in a weird predicament in that you have work experience, but not necessarily “work experience.” Yes, your skills can translate, but what specific situations during your playing career can you use to help set yourself apart within a company or during the interview process? 

Ironically, your career situations actually do translate to the corporate space. In addition, as an athlete at the elite level, your situation is even more unique and attractive for the very same industries that you may feel shy about. These are some examples of how your situation as a professional athlete can translate to corporate.

You are in a weird predicament in that you have work experience, but not necessarily 'work experience.'



Playing for an expansion team or franchise can be likened to working in a start up tech company. Things may be new, you have a mixture of experience and youth, and in most cases you don’t have enough numbers within the organization to have everything run smoothly like other more established franchises. You have a big vision of what the organization will stand for and ultimately look like, but as with any new thing, it’ll change as you continue to learn. There will be some growing pains through wins and losses. As a new team, you are tasked with beating out the competition, growing within a community that has yet to fully accept you, and bring new members on board as quickly as possibly. This situation is what countless startups go through daily. As an athlete, that’s been in this situation, your discipline and ability to adapt on the fly would be a great value add for a company in the start up phase.



Working for a big corporation or established brand is the ultimate step in the business world. How are you challenging yourself to stay at the top? It’s so hard to repeat success. When you play for a championship level organization that demands high results day in and day out, what traits do you have to exemplify to keep up? What qualities do those companies have and how are the people within those companies carrying the ethos out? Not everyone is equipped to be part of a championship winning team. Whether it’s because you aren’t being valued with enough attention or the demand is too high, but as an athlete that’s been a part of a championship winning team, you can relate to working within a big, successful corporation. No room for error, everyone wanting to take your spot, and simply consistency are themes that an athlete on a team that wins easily can understand and translate. No different playing for the New England Patriots than working at a company like Goldman Sachs. With the exceptions of some terminology, math and athletic skills, the atmosphere in both offices are the same.



At some point during your career you’ve had to deal with a bad coach. Whether you two never got along, the coach didn’t rate your skill set, whatever reason it may be, the coach just wasn’t conducive for how you went about your work. The question is…how did you navigate that situation? Did you sulk and pout, were you actively finding ways to get the coach to come around, did you transfer, did you confront the coach in a polite way to alleviate the animosity? How you reacted may be a good indicator when working in the corporate space with a project manager or CEO. The same way you reacted during your career to get the job done could be the answer you use for the corporate world.



Being the best player on the star team whether big market or small market has a lot of perks. But as we all know, there is no 'I' in team. How did you lead and inspire others on your team to perform and help you excel? What did you do to set yourself apart from your teammates? Within a company, you may be one of the star players, but you can only go as far as the person next to you. If you were a role player, how did you figure out ways to still be valuable to the team? During your career, you faced times when you were the first one on the team sheet or not even on the game-day roster, but understanding your role and still competing to achieve the ultimate goal is something done on the everyday corporate ladder.