Career fair gives players off-the-field advantage
In a grueling off-season that is preparing the Cougars for the 2016 football season, players took Wednesday afternoon off to attend an event that will help shape the rest of their lives.
The UH Athletics Career Fair was held in the TDECU Stadium Club and it allowed players to network with potential employers from around Houston. The function served as the finale of this year’s “Real Life Wednesdays,” a program head coach Tom Herman started that focuses on developing skills for his players to confidently enter the workforce.
“This career day is a culmination of what we have been doing all spring through ‘Real Life Wednesdays’,” Kevin Washington, the team chaplain, said. “We’ve brought in actual employers that are looking for employees or interns. We’ve taught the guys how to network, how to give out their resume, now we’re giving them that real-life experience.”
Washington said the program focuses on preparing players for employment, for fatherhood, for marriage and for being a citizen.
Players entered the employer-filled club level of TDECU Stadium in suits and ties, all poised to make an impression. Moving from table to table, the players appeared focused as they intently listened to the business representatives.
The event gave players an opportunity to sharpen their people skills and build confidence in a corporate setting.
“One thing I learned was how to introduce myself, for some reason I had a problem with that,” junior Steven Dunbar, wide receiver, said. “I introduce myself, tell (employers) what I want to know from them and have questions ready to ask about whatever they are presenting to me.”
The players valued the opportunity to practice communicating in a professional environment. Despite being accustomed to playing in front of thousands of nationwide viewers, the fear of sitting in a job interview daunts those who are trained to handle pressure-filled situations.
“This (career fair) is definitely helpful. It’s breaking ice and making connections with people who can help you later on in your career,” junior quarterback Kyle Postma said. “It makes me feel a lot better. It gets me out of my comfort zone a little bit.”
The career fair did not have a time limit. After one hour, many players were still conversing with employers.
One of the last to file out of the fair was senior quarterback Greg Ward Jr. who enjoyed learning about how the various businesses operated. Ward believes the skills and lessons players learn on the football field can give them a competitive advantage in the workforce.
“All the adversity and all of the hard work, I believe every football player has sacrificed something,” Ward said. “We all wake up early in the morning anyways, so I think we would make great employees.”