Recently I have been contacted by many collegiate athletes on the verge of graduation seeking guidance about the next step in their life. Some want to hoop overseas, others are looking for a career in college administration, while others simply are trying to find a job. All of the inquires have been unexpected, but they serve as a nostalgic moment that causes me to reminisce on the time when I was in their shoes.
I will never forget the day of graduation standing in my apartment on campus looking in the mirror at myself with my cap and gown on. I knew college was over, but I didn’t know for certain what was next. My goal was to hoop overseas after I came to the harsh realization that I wasn’t going to the get drafted to play in WNBA. Upon graduation people would ask, “What are you doing now?” “Where will you work?” My response was short, confident and stern, “I going to play overseas.”
That answer would ensue another onslaught of questions that usually started like this “Oh thats great. What country are you going to? When will you leave? How long will you be there? Do you know any foregone languages? How much money will you make?” They would go on and on and on. My answer again was short, confident and stern, “I don’t know”.
I didn’t have the answers, but I had faith coupled with a few good connections and an above average college basketball career. My coach knew someone who knew an agent in Germany and I received a contract to play. I was elated to travel the world at 21 years old and as I look back there is so much I wish I would have known.
This reflection coupled with the gentle nudge from the recent inquires have thrusted me into action down a path I am not sure where it will lead. All I know is that I want the young women coming behind me to be wiser, more equipped and have access to a broader network than I had which will lead them creating the life they desire. Growing up no one ever told me that at various stages in life you will have this opportunity to speak to your younger self who will cross your path in the form of others.
So, for these young women I will provide a few nuggets of advice as they seek to transition to the next phase in their life with confidence and clarity.
1.Decide what your want to learn next. Make your career decisions based on your natural curiosity. Maybe you’re interested in technology such as IoT, health and fitness, sports marketing etc. To stay competitive you always have to learn something new.
2. Connect with your alumni organization at your college or university. There are plenty of people with pride for your university waiting to help you. Ask to speak to the leader and find out how you can get involved in their initiatives.
3. Find a non profit whose mission you believe in and ask to serve on the board. When you help others without asking for anything in return you will be surprised what doors open. Most non profits are looking for young people with a lot of energy, who are passionate and smart to help their organizations.
Remember that life will take you on a few unexpected turns, but keep your big vision in mind. Being an athlete has prepared you in ways you may not recognize just yet. Use these simple steps as a starting point and feel free to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.