Site helps athletes find jobs, long after the final shot

career athletes logoIn the months before Chris Smith graduated from Missouri State University in 2002, his classmates were doing the networking and other things that soon-to-be college graduates do in looking for a job.

Smith, however, didn't have the time. While others were out job hunting, Smith was out working at a job he didn't get paid for: He played football for the university.

With a bachelor's degree in entrepreneurship, it turns out that Smith's work on the football field helped him develop the skills he needed in the working world -- being goal oriented, handling pressure well, having a strong work ethic and being mentally tough.

Those traits and many others that athletes share are what drove Smith to start, a Web site that helps athletes network and find jobs through mentors and school alumni.

"It's the same traits you hear in boardrooms -- these are the people we need," Smith said in a telephone interview.

With 50,000 members -- including student athletes and professional athletes -- CareerAthletes works with more than 1,200 universities to help them search for free for a job.

Since few college athletes make it to the pros and get all of the riches and fame that come with it, it's a group that needs to use its athletic skills in the workplace.

Being of the mind frame that they're going to get to the next level of sports, such as the NFL, is what makes college athletes who they are in the first place and it's a level of thinking they shouldn't ignore in the workplace, Smith said.

The life of being a college athlete suddenly comes to an end at graduation, and Smith's site works to teach athletes how to articulate their skill set to employers.

Those skills include valuing constructive criticism, knowing how to prepare, being focused and being willing to learn.

Contrary to the popular cliche that student athletes don't graduate from college, an NCAA study of student athletes in 2006 found that they graduate at a higher rate, 76%, than college students nationally. Women athletes had a much higher graduation rate than men.

One reason may be that athletes have a support structure at school and are committed, Smith said.

"They know what it means to be a teammate and they don't want to let their teammates down and drop out," he said.

Aaron Crowe is a freelance journalist in the San Francisco Bay Area who can be reached at
Read Full Story