Career Mobility
January 14, 2022

Graduating Athletes Need Your Help To Turn Their First Job Into A Career

A college graduate's first stop in their career can impact their success, earnings, and fulfillment for decades to come. Here's how athletic departments can prepare their graduating athletes for a fast start.

Graduating Athletes Need Your Help To Turn Their First Job Into A Career

With your help, the Class of 2021 graduated. 🎉 What the heck now?

Future comes at you quick after graduation

📝This Week's Goal: Serve this year's grads in a meaningful way so they can make this summer count.

Congratulations! You've coached, tutored, advised, inspired, and led the Class of 2021 to graduation!


Now back to work! 😉

Seriously, though, you know the drill. When it comes to preparing college athletes for career, there is no off-season. And you know that the long-awaited graduation ceremony is a pit stop, not the destination.

What happens next for your (former) student-athletes is critical to their success in career, their development as adults, and their future as empowered alumni.

In fact, a couple of years ago, Burning Glass Technologies, a leading labor market data tech company, published a groundbreaking study on the importance of college graduates' first moves after 🎓.

Here are the highlights:

  • 4 in 10 college graduates are underemployed for their first job out of college (that is, they're doing a job that doesn't require a college degree)
  • Grads who start out in jobs that fit continue to reap the benefits 10 years later. If they're in jobs that utilize their degree, they're significantly more likely to stay in jobs that utilize their degree-- even through job changes.
  • Those who start out behind stay behind. "Workers who were initially underemployed were five times more likely to remain so after five years than those who were not underemployed in their first job. Even at the 10-year mark, three-quarters of workers who were underemployed at year five remained underemployed.
  • Underemployment kills graduates' earnings, zapping their purchasing power... and that inequality only grows as they progress in their career. Burning Glass estimated that underemployed grads made, on average, $10k less than their peers in degree-fitted jobs. That's a huge difference when it comes to an entry-level salary of $40-$50k.

Bottom line: Your investment in student-athlete graduates can be a force-multiplier💪💥 for their success for years to come.

And, yes, it's late in the game to get started on preparing your athletes for career. But...

(a) If your grads are truly headed for unemployment or underemployment, ANY help you can offer is a lifesaver;

(b) It never hurts to make sure they're ready. They're out of school, out of sports, and the future is bearing down on them like a train. 🚆 In other words, they're more ready to listen to your ideas about how to get a job.

(c) You'll need these support systems in place for next year, and the year after that, and the year after that...

So how can you provide connection and support for your athletes through the biggest transition of their young adult lives?

👉So here is this week's Grafted Goodie: Implement one of these high-impact practices to support your 2021 grads as they launch into the job market:

  • Create a space for grads to connect with each other and with alumni— they need access to people who understand what they're going through and can guide them through. Consider @joingrafted and our custom-built mobile apps.
  • Curate graduate-targeted content (preferably created by your alumni)— focus on topics like interviewing, identity, networking, and transition
  • Show your grads you care— check in with them and meet career interest needs as they arise. Try to engage 5 grads each week.

👀 Extra credit reading:

• An article that inspired much of our thinking about this post. Alma mater is Latin for "nurturing mother"... maybe there's something to that. Before alumni are ready to give back, what do we need to give them?

• We partnered with UTEP Athletics ⛏! The new UTEP Athlete Network is all about lifelong athlete outcomes. Check out how Jim Senter and Chelsea Popplewell plan to use it to engage athletes, alumni, and employer partners.

Tyler Baker
Tyler Baker
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