(Left to Right) Sam Lackmann, Emma Almquist, Erin Loterbauer, Emmie Verhaagh
What Career Competencies Am I Learning From Being A Student-Athlete?

In athletics, individuals develop a wide range of career competencies that are highly transferable to various professional settings. A common misconception is that student-athletes are wasting their time on their sport instead of building their resume for their careers after college. There are many ways playing a sport while in school is just as informative and allows students to gain the same skills as if they were working an on-campus job. It is a reasonable concern for students deciding if they will continue their sport into the collegiate world, but I think we forget to see all the lessons and teachings brought by sports and being a part of a team. 

So, what are Career Competencies?

Career competencies are the skills you obtain and can use in a professional work setting. They are essential actions and behaviors that one must possess in order to be successful in their field. At St. Kate’s Career Development, we highlight 8 valuable career competencies. While you’re visiting KCVC (KatieCareer Virtual Center), head over to https://katiecareervc.stkate.edu/channels/career-competencies/ to learn more about some career competencies that we deem important for students to highlight when applying and working at various jobs.

“But you’re not working a job? You’re just having fun?”

Correct! But also, sometimes playing a sport at the collegiate level requires the same amount of time commitment, planning, and attention as a job. Through our sport, we are learning the same necessary skills as others while getting to participate in the sport we love. It’s a win-win! Also, student-athletes often DO have jobs! Here at St. Kate’s you will see many of our student-athletes working around campus and many have jobs off campus as well.

“You can’t put a sport on your resume.”

Yes, you can! The main purpose of a resume is to show employers what you’ve done and why you’re qualified for the job. If you have put so much time and effort into your sport, why not showcase what you’ve learned and accomplished? Sometimes, opportunities arise within or due to your sport so don’t discredit yourself for all of the work you have put in. Showing employers that you were dedicated to a sport and presenting any awards or achievements you are proud of accomplishing has a lot to say to employers.

Let’s look into examples of career competencies seen in athletics:

Time Management: Balancing rigorous training schedules, academic commitments, and personal life requires exceptional time management skills. Planning and ranking tasks by priority can be daunting but also improve your productivity. Learning early on in your life how to manage your time serves a great purpose later in your career and life. Employers value individuals who can effectively manage their time and prioritize tasks.

“Being a college athlete helped me better my time management skills to get my academics done before participating in athletics. It also helped me be more organized in laying out my week with homework, work, and sports.” -Sam Lackmann, Hockey

“Having good time management is huge; it is extremely difficult to balance athletics, academics, and social life. This shows that when in the workforce, you will be able to balance your time between all different types of projects.” -Emma Almquist, Golf

Teamwork: You knew I’d say this one, right? Well, it’s true! Being part of a sports team teaches athletes how to work collaboratively towards a common goal. Athletes understand the importance of communication, cooperation, and supporting their teammates, which are vital skills in any workplace. You learn to work within a diverse group of people, coming from all sorts of backgrounds in college. Communication is essential and learning to portray thoughts, feelings, behaviors, and ideas to teammates and coaches is the only way a team can run smoothly. In college, you spend a lot of time with your team so learning to work together early on, your season will go a lot smoother. In the workplace, you work with many teams just in a different setting.

“Working on a team has allowed me to work well with others; I feel like many of the other definitions fit into teamwork, such as communication. Being able to adapt and work well with others is beneficial not only for a sports team but also for the workplace.” -Emma Almquist, Golf

“Through coaches along with teammate’s parents, I have been able to connect with many people to learn about job opportunities and internships.” -Emmie Verhaagh, Golf & Hockey

Leadership: Being involved in your team and the athletic department can teach you many leadership qualities. You can develop skills from providing guidance, healthy criticism, and advice to your teammates, while also stepping up to be a spokesperson for your team to the athletic department and hosting events for your campus. These leadership skills are highly transferable to leadership roles in the workplace.

 “I have gained leadership skills through various athletic clubs like WSAAC as I have been a part of it for 4 years, being on the executive board for 1. With that I think my leadership came through with heading Polar Plunge this year!” -Sam Lackmann, Hockey

“Being on committees like WSAAC taught me how to both work and communicate with others to organize events.” -Erin Loterbauer, Tennis

Discipline & Work Ethic: Achieving success in athletics requires a high level of discipline, dedication, and hard work. Athletes develop strong work ethics, showing commitment, perseverance, and willingness to put in the effort to improve and succeed, qualities highly valued by employers.

“Being on the St. Kate’s golf team, we use the goal-setting process a ton. Setting goals reminds you of what you are working towards. It’s very easy to get caught up in the day-to-day process, forgetting about the end goal and why you are putting in all the work.” -Emma Almquist, Golf

“Not playing in the line-up for the first couple of years taught me how to motivate myself to continue working hard so that I could accomplish my goals of playing in the line-up.” -Erin Loterbauer, Tennis

Other Skills Learned In Athletics:

  • Emotional Intelligence
  • Decision Making
  • Critical Thinking
  • Professionalism
  • Adaptability
  • Community Service & Volunteering
  • Communication
  • Responsibility
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Organization
  • Networking
  • Balancing Lifestyle
  • Self Discipline

These are just a few of the possible career competencies you will encounter during your time in collegiate athletics program. Developing and demonstrating these competencies can enhance one’s employability, job performance, and overall career success. The experiences and skills gained through participation in athletics contribute to the development of well-rounded individuals with valuable career competencies that can be applied across various professions. So take advantage of the opportunity to grow as an individual and consider college athletics. You will learn so much, build relationships, and create core memories. And when you’re looking for a job, be proud of your accomplishments and put your work as a student-athlete on your resume!

By Anna Luksik
Anna Luksik Career Assistant