Pro Athlete Career Lessons - #2 Career Planning

Fatimah Gilliam Founder, and CEO The Azara Group

January 17, 2017

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Pro Athlete Career Lessons - #2 Career Planning

This is the second article in a three-part series providing career advice to professional athletes - encouraging success both on and off the field. However, these tips are also helpful for people working in Corporate America. The advice in this series promotes strong leadership skills, collaborative teamwork, strategic career planning, and career and financial longevity. Click here to read our first article on leadership and here to read our third article on financial planning.

If you are a professional athlete, no one needs to tell you that nothing lasts forever. However, it can be easy to lose sight of life beyond the game when the game is your primary focus. Planning for a career beyond the sport you love is an important step all athletes should take in order to have options upon retirement or injury.

1. Take Stock of Your Interests

Yes, sports are probably the main interest in your life right now, but have you ever encountered someone and thought, "Wow! That job looks awesome!"? Chances are, you have a plethora of interests you have yet to explore - relating to sports or in an area totally outside of sports. Many former athletes have gone on to have successful careers as managers within in the sports industry, motivational speakers, and leaders in sales and finance, but many have transitioned into less-linear roles in other industries.

2. Evaluate Your Skills

You should not only look at what you are interested in, but also for what you have a natural inclination and skill. Have people always told you that you would be a great lawyer or chef? Did you have a favorite subject or class in school? What excites you most outside of being on the field? Make a list of your strengths and weaknesses, research what types of jobs those skills might be a fit for, and determine how you can expand your skill set. Take a career aptitude test or meet with a career advisor.

3. Plan Some "Next Steps"

Research the position you want. Do you have the level of education necessary to attain your dream position? If not, look into taking classes. Read books on the subject, and consult with an expert. Informational interviews are some of the best ways to determine if a career path is the correct one for you. Create a strategic plan, set realistic goals, and develop a timeline.

4. Network, Network, Network!

It was important during scouting season, and is equally as important now. As a professional athlete, you have access to hundreds of people within or associated with your organization that can contribute to your professional growth. Meet with them, get introduced to people, and develop contacts outside of sports.

5. Patience Is a Virtue

Just like it took hard work, honing your skills, and time to become a professional athlete, it will take time to transition into something new. This is why it is imperative to begin the planning process of what your next move is - early and while you are an athlete. You cannot figure out everything overnight, but you can lay the foundation for understanding what direction to head in by taking the time to think through your long-term career plan.

6. Be Open to New Opportunities

If you do not consider a new opportunity, you might miss the chance of a lifetime. Be open, learn as much as you can, and take a chance on a new job opportunity. You might find a passion that rivals or supersedes your athletic pursuits.

Final Thoughts

Plan for the future so you can enjoy the present. Familiarizing yourself with some career options for life after the game can only benefit you. Consider working with an advisor, like The Azara Group, to develop an action plan to set your future career into motion and reach your professional goals.
For leadership strategy advice, check out the first article in this series. For financial planning advice, check out the third article in this series.

The Azara Group (TAG) is a consulting firm that promotes the development of leaders in an increasingly competitive and diverse marketplace - providing strategy consulting services and leadership training services to advance professional and life success. TAG leverages expertise in career strategy, diversity, negotiation skills, and business acumen to provide strategic advice and consulting services to help people and organizations get what they want, achieve their goals, and advance their business and career objectives. TAG also helps companies better attract, retain, and promote diverse talent, and develop robust diversity platforms and strategies to create a more inclusive workplace.

The Azara Group welcomes your direct comments and feedback. We do not post comments to our site at this time, but we value hearing from our readers. We invite you to share your thoughts with us. You can contact us directly at [email protected].

Opinions expressed by the author are not necessarily those of WITI.

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