Courtesy of Emily Green. Follow: @ohhh_emm_g
People talk about the end of a swim career as bittersweet. By the time most people finish their college swimming career, they’ve spent a good part of the last decade in the pool. You get warned about the nostalgia of going back to swim meets, missing the long bus rides, and the extra time on your hands. But no one warns you about the transition period. By the time college swimming is over, you’re in the last 3 months of your college career, expected to graduate with your degree and become a productive member of society. Seems easy enough, right? While you were spending the last four years of your college career in the pool, your classmates were doing internships with Fortune 500 companies. While you were up at five, running stairs and hitting the weight room, your classmates were networking and making professional connections. This is a reality slap that I am currently experiencing. With three weeks left in my college swim career, and four months until my college graduation, one part of my life is ending and the next is just beginning. I feel behind. I feel like I should be more prepared. I feel like I don’t have an answer to the “What are your plans after school?” question because I can no longer answer, “swimming”. As dreary and hopeless as that all sounds, I still think I’ve gained more out of swimming than I could from any job or internship. So what now?
1. Pump up your resume with the professional skills you’ve gained from swimming.
Try phrases like “Devoted 20+ hours per week to athletics” and “Organized and implemented team building initiatives” Words like leader, role model, dedication, and team work can all be utilized. The skills you learned in swimming are easily transferrable to the corporate world.
2. Connect with all the old swimmers you know.
There’s a girl who graduated three years before you even got to your school, but she has a job at a company you’re interested in? Give her a call! Swimmers love talking to swimmers, whether about a recent meet or about their career. This is your own form of networking. Swimming makes us have a special connection, so use it.
3. Look for companies that specifically hire college athletes.
Athletenetwork.com is a great resource to find companies that are in search of newly graduated collegiate athletes. There are nationwide companies who understand the hard work and commitment it takes to be a collegiate athlete, and are looking to make you part of their team.
4. You know those on campus services like job fairs and the career center you were always too busy with practice to go to?
Well you have this amazingly free schedule now, and it’s time to give them a visit. Often you can meet employers first hand and chat about their company and yourself. This is a great time to brag (yes brag you deserve it!) about finishing collegiate swimming and all the great skills you gained from it. Meeting these companies first hand gives you a much better chance to be hired than just sending in a faceless resume.
5. Be thankful for all that swimming has given you.
Although this is a stressful time, and it’s easy to blame swimming for taking away all of your free time during college, being a collegiate swimmer is an elite status and something to be proud of. Employers will take notice. As you transition from one team to a more corporate team, never forget what swimming has taught you and always be grateful for your four years.