‘Career Captains’ effort connects student athletes with alumni

This past November, over 30 student-athletes networked with professionals from the greater Cleveland area at an event hosted by BW’s Career Services department, the Department of Athletics and the Brown & Gold Club.

The Career Captains event, held at the Center for Innovation and Growth at BW, allowed for student-athletes to have conversations with a number of BW alumni who are currently working in a variety of different fields. Some companies that were represented included Northwestern Mutual, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Cleveland Browns, and the Cleveland Indians.

“This event allowed for these student-athletes to get skin in the game,” said Trey Keeley, men’s lacrosse team head coach and event co-planner. “Things like this are important for personal growth.”

The event started with a mock panel, where the selected alumni answered questions about how they utilized their skills from athletics in developing their professional careers. Then, athletes separated into groups and had one-on-one conversations with the professionals, Keeley said.

Coaches from every varsity sports team nominated athletes to attend the event. The athletes were carefully selected team members who will represent their sport and BW well, said Keeley. Every sports team on campus had at least one student-athlete who attended the event.

When companies look to hire recent graduates, athletes always stick out. Athletes have a solid foundation of time management and have a reliable work ethic, he said.

“Companies love hiring student-athletes,” Keeley said. “They look for someone who has lived the ‘student-athlete lifestyle’ because of how well it has prepared them. Athletes understand the idea of working hard for everything.”

Just like competition, athletes understand the idea of practice and repetition, Keeley said. An event like this gives student-athletes another opportunity to practice networking with professionals who truly care about both the university and student enrichment.

“We want to continue to develop [athletes] so when they leave BW, they’re one step ahead of other students,” he said.

The interactions between professionals and students present learning opportunities, said Keeley. Student-athletes who take the most advantage of little opportunities will develop the most, he said.

Career services and the athletic department hope to make Career Captains an annual event with an even larger turnout. Planners hope to expand the amount of professionals and the amount of athletes.

“We would definitely like to increase the number of student-athletes, Yellow Jacket alumni, and other employer professionals at the event,” said Judy Mey, Career Advisor at BW. “Our goal [at Career Services] is [to] continue improving our events and programs.”

For the first go-around at hosting the event, everyone involved in the planning portion was pleased with the outcome, Mey said. Student-athletes were able to become comfortable in a different type of setting and alumni were able to share valuable stories.

“It was a win-win situation for all. Student-athletes had the opportunity to practice an important component of career development, and alumni and employers were able to build relationships with students,” said Mey. “It was truly a collaborative effort between coaches and Career Services. Coach Keeley, St. Pierre, and Wolff-Demaline encouraged student-athletes to attend and invited Yellow Jacket alumni to participate.”