Scholar Athlete Program Kicks Off this Spring

By Kim Uslin
Elm Staff Writer

As Washington College seniors know, the idea of entering into the workforce after graduation can be terrifying. For those who play sports, however, the process is becoming slightly less daunting.

In spring 2012, the Athletics Department will implement a Career Development program for WC scholar-athletes in conjunction with Career Services and the Alumni Office. The program, which is presently in its beginning stages, was created to assist graduates with job placement.

The program’s two main components are its shadow and professional partnership programs.

Through the shadow program, students have the opportunity to shadow a professional, spending a day in that individual’s work environment.

Doing so affords the student the opportunity to both determine his level of interest in the field and become acquainted with professionals in that field. Students can shadow as early as their sophomore year.

The professional partnership program takes shadowing to the next level.

In this program, the Athletic Department has formed partnerships with such major companies as T. Rowe Price and Kronos. The companies will be collaborating with the Athletic Department to place scholar-athletes in internships and entry-level positions.

According to Director of Athletics and Associate Vice President for Administrative Services Bryan Matthews, these companies have specifically sought out scholar-athletes.

“The athlete experience definitely translates into the workforce,” he said. “Student athletes understand being part of a team. They know how to work together toward a common goal. Beyond this, they understand competition. They are disciplined and have great time management skills. Obviously athletics isn’t the only place to obtain these skills, but they must be developed in order to be a successful athlete and will bring success in the career force.”

According to Matthews, coaches have been informally assisting students with job placement long before the program’s inception.

“When you have graduating seniors that you’ve known and coached for four years, you always want to help them succeed after they graduate,” he said. “Basically, we are taking an informal process and systemizing it.”

A major component of the program is an alumni database consisting mainly of former WC athletes who are now successful members of the workforce. On the program’s website, there is an area where scholar-athletes are able to register and fill out forms which will be used in shadow and professional partnership placement.
Program Coordinator and Men’s Lacrosse Coach Jeff Shirk is excited about the project and what it will mean for WC Athletics.

“For the Athletic Department to have a specific program to help scholar-athletes obtain jobs after graduation sets us apart from almost all of our competitors,” he said.

Despite its focus on athletics, the program is meant to collaborate with rather than duplicate the work of Career Services and other similar WC departments.

“[Other WC Departments] already do a lot of great work with graduating students,” said Matthews. “Our goal is to work with them and to help steer student-athletes toward their resources, adding our resources to it as well. Coach Shirk and myself have been in many productive meetings with members of Career Services, the Alumni House, OIT, and the office of internships. We share a common goal: help graduates have the best possible chance of succeeding in the real world.”
To register for the Scholar-Athlete Career Development Program or to get more information, visit http://washingtoncollegesports.com/insideAthletics/sa_career_dev/index.

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