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From Sweats to Suits: How Sports Can Help You Standout From An Overcrowded Job Market


This day in age it is hard to stand out in the overcrowded job market, especially if you lack a certain degree of “professional” work experience that most recruiters look for on a resume.

I am one of those people who lacks “professional” work experience, but not because I am lazy or didn’t know what I wanted to do, it’s because I was committed to the highest level of division-1 competitive sports.

I was told growing up that sports would “open doors” for me because I am not like the typical student and have the ability to differentiate myself from others because my “job” is harder than most, requires more dedication than most, and demonstrates a sense of work-ethic not seen elsewhere.

All that glitters is not gold.

After graduation, I spent quite a bit of time with my advisor, parents, and friends trying to come up with attention grabbing bullet points to add to my resume so that I can stand out from other job-seeking graduates. I went to mock-interviews, real interviews, and job fairs and found myself stuck.

I was asked questions such as “do you have any real work experience?” or “ did you ever participate in any internships?” and would respond by telling them about my intense dedication to swimming and how it was a year-round sport, therefore internships in the summer would be too much of a time-commitment. I followed by stating how being an athlete related to the skills necessary for such and such job, but none of that seemed to be of any interest. Time and time again the recruiter would just look at me, smile, and then the interview would be over. No job offered.

But, unlike most people, being defeated didn’t break me down or allow me to feel sorry for myself that I wasted 16 years of my life, I actually became more motivated than ever to prove myself.

This resiliency I can contribute to my athletic background and how it makes a person see the big picture, making the current situation seem so insignificant.  Sometimes you lose. It’s a fact of life. And the sooner you can accept it, make the best of it and improve for next time, the better attitude you’ll have about challenges in life.

I revamped my resume to demonstrate how my athletic performance not only related to the job I was applying for, but made me a better candidate than the average Joe who had an internship where he fetched coffee and Facebooked all day. Here are some bullet points that I used during my interviews that helped me gain the “professional” experience every student-athlete needs:

1) You’re accountable for yourself and your goals, but you also are used to working in a team dynamic.

2) You can balance academics and sports, and you’re used to managing your time. To maintain a high standard for your tennis court and ensure it remains a conducive space for both practice and competition, you may want to consider hiring contractors from or from sites like

3) You have a strong work ethic and are dedicated to your goals.

4) You’re used to the public spotlight, and the pressure and scrutiny that comes with it.

5) You have good mentoring and leadership skills, especially as a captain.

6) You’re proficient with team dynamics and dealing with different personality types.