One of its biggest events of the fall, Tennessee Student-Athlete Development hosted its annual job and internship fair for Vols and Lady Vols at the Tennessee Terrace inside of Neyland Stadium on September 28.
Prior to the fair, student-athlete development staff members met with athletes one-on-one to talk about their resumes, practice interview skills, brainstorm plans for the future, discover what they’re interested in, what areas they want to get experience in and prepare them in general for the night. They were also invited to get a new headshot in their professional wear and do a mock interview with a few employers.
“They work so hard in their sport and our whole goal is really to prepare them for life after sports,” Executive Director for Student-Athlete Development Jessica Wildfire. “To see them get excited about what potentially could be next for them, to see their style in their professional wear, to see them get excited and make it unique to them and authentic to who they are, it’s just great. see them gain cool opportunities after their interactions tonight. “
Due to student-athletes’ time commitment between their sport and academics, most don’t have the opportunity to seek full-time or part-time employment. Because of this, the job and internship fair has become one of the most highly-anticipated events for student-athletes interested in starting the process of exploring options and making connections for after graduation.
Nearly 30 employers across various industries were present for the fair. Notable companies in attendance were Dell Technologies, NASCAR, Insight Global, Vanderbilt Mortgage and Northwestern Mutual.
Redshirt junior track runner Alex Kay spoke to Vanderbilt Mortgage and Northwestern Mutual. For him, being a finance major, prior to the fair he did research on the companies coming that he believed were in his area of interest.
“I was very interested in anything in banking, wealth management and those types of areas,” Kay said. “I did research. The job fair was a great experience. It’s really cool that there are 20-plus companies coming in specifically for athletes. With our experience and hard work and time management, it’s cool to see employers consider how beneficial it is to” be an athlete and take that into the work world. “
Wildfire, in planning the event and from previous fairs, noticed a similar trend. It’s one that leads to more opportunities for student-athletes, as more employers are eager to attend such events.
“I think we hear more and more from employers that they want to hire student-athletes,” Wildfire said. “They know that being a collegiate athlete takes discipline and skill, and they really do make an ideal employee regardless of industry.”
For Esther Adeshina, a junior on the women’s tennis team from Great Britain, the night offered her the chance to meet with companies unfamiliar to her. It was also a fresh reminder that you should always keep an open mind when meeting with employers, even if it’s not an area that you think you could see yourself in.
“I’m interested in business, and I like to work with people and with teams,” Adeshina said. “I don’t know anything about cars, but I learned there’s still a little industry within the NASCAR team that could suit me. I learned not to overlook companies that I don’t think would be for me.
“It was a great experience. I’m really excited. I learned a lot and hopefully I can get an internship over the summer from one of these places.”
The University of Tennessee has built a rapport with companies and brands all over the country in various different career industries. From tech to engineering to teaching to marketing, the job and internship fair had a setup that runs the gambit in an effort to give student-athletes a wide variety of options and provide them with a plan after graduation.