By Alison Smith, a senior hurdler from McKinleyville, CA
I had the privilege of attending the 2017 NCAA Career in Sports Forum at the NCAA Headquarters in Indianapolis at the beginning of June and it was the perfect experience for me as I enter the workforce and look to begin my career in athletics. The forum provided over 20 speakers who presented on a variety of topics ranging from networking, emotional intelligence, personal branding, jobs within the NCAA office, and much more. The speakers shared personal experiences, which many served as life lessons as well as helpful advice for those just beginning their journey in the world of athletics. Many of the presentations were obviously tailored towards intercollegiate athletics, however, all of the information can be taken and applied to everyday life. Two of the biggest themes I took away from the forum included finding your passion and defining your "why," or your purpose for doing what you do; and the importance of building genuine personal relationships and being intentional in your actions and communications with others. Defining your "why" and finding what makes you tick will help you find the right career path for yourself so that you are doing not only what you are good at but what you love to do so that you wake up every day excited and motivated to go to work. Once you are able to define that part of your "why", you will be able to define what your impact will be on the organization you work for and decide how you will contribute to the organization and how valuable you will be to them. Networking is a huge part of almost any industry, however, in this business, it is often "who you know, not what you know." Building genuine relationships, following up, and being intentional with your time can take you a long way because building connections can often benefit you later on down the road.
My favorite part of the forum was the DiSC session. DiSC is a behavior assessment tool centered around four different behavioral traits: dominance, influence, steadiness, and conscientiousness. The assessment allows you to increase your self-knowledge about how you behave and how those behaviors affect others, as well as gaining a better understanding of other people's behaviors and that by doing so, we can facilitate better teamwork, improve relationships, and become more effective leaders. The assessment identified certain behaviors that we don't even know we do and we are not even aware of how they affect others, so it was a really great learning experience about myself. I think this kind of assessment or similar assessments are very beneficial and should be completed amongst sport teams and organizations that are teamwork oriented because it will allow team members to understand their behaviors, some they might not have known they have, and then be able to better interact with their teammates who are different from them and thus be able to perform the best they can.
Overall, I had the best time at the Career in Sports Forum. I met some fantastic people, grew as a leader and as a person, and gained an abundance of valuable knowledge that I will take with me as I move forward in my career. It is the perfect experience for anyone trying to figure out their next step, looking to expand their knowledge in the world of athletics or striving to become a more effective leader. My experience at the forum solidified my desire to work in sports and I know that that is where my passion lies!