Being a College Athlete Prepared Me for Working in Tech

Caroline Ambros

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By Caroline Ambros, corporate communications marketing specialist, SmartBear Software

As I near the one-year mark of graduating from Tufts University, I have found myself reflecting on how far I have come in a short time. A year ago, I wondered whether I should have spent more time doing internships rather than devoting so much of myself to the Tufts Sailing Team.

I now realize that many of the lessons I learned being on a competitive sports team have served me well at my job as a corporate communications marketing specialist at SmartBear Software.

Here are my top five reasons why college athletes become great employees.

1. Time Management

When I was in season, I never had any free time. I sailed five to six days per week and took four to five classes every semester, so by necessity, I could not procrastinate on assignments. Because of time constraints, I needed to stay focused and efficiently finish the task at hand.

Although my competitive sailing days are over, I still find those learned time management skills just as useful and important. Juggling many different projects at once—whether for working, volunteering, or doing personal projects—feels natural because I have had a system in place for years. I have had a lot of practice managing my time effectively.

2. Teamwork

In college sailing, we sail dinghies, which are two-person boats. When you are trapped in a boat with someone for sometimes as long as eight hours at a time, learning how to have a functional, working relationship becomes incredibly essential.

In the tech space, where work is so often collaborative, this skill comes in handy every day. It is incredibly important to develop good work relationships with various types of people across the company and industry to get a job done.

3. Competitiveness

The best athletes in any sport tend to be driven people. They are number one because for them, being number two or number three is unacceptable, and they are willing to do the work to get to the top.

It is difficult for me to turn this mindset off in the non-athletic world. However, I find that thinking this way serves me well at a constantly growing tech company. I strived to be number one in sailing. My competitiveness drives me to help SmartBear to be number one in the industry.

4. Dedication

Similarly, even the most naturally talented athletes know that being the best takes hard work. Even if you are great at your job, your work will not be great if you do not put in the time it deserves. Helping to build a great company takes dedication, and when you are dedicated, results generally follow.

5. Showing Up

In sailing and in the workplace, half the battle is simply showing up—both literally and figuratively. If you continually do not go to practice, not only will your coach notice, but your more dedicated teammates will be faster than you are.

The same is true when you do not show up mentally for work. If you waste those valuable "practice" hours goofing around, the result is the same as if you had not shown up at all. Keeping this in mind, in the office, I use my work hours to stay focused and do what I am there to do.

The skills and lessons learned and developed while playing competitive sports translate naturally into a competitive work environment. I have developed a valuable work ethic sailing competitively over the years, and I expect I will continue to hone those skills to launch a successful and rewarding career.

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