Leveraging LinkedIn as a Student-Athlete

“If I were a current student-athlete, I would be all in on LinkedIn from an early age reaching out and setting up informational interviews with alumni and people who are in the field that interests me.”

It’s no secret that collegiate athletics is similar to a full-time job. The time commitment of athletics alone vigorous, factor in the full course load required to participate. What a lot of athletes don’t realize is that through all of these hours put in, they’re also acquiring necessary skills that can be transferred over into a post-athletic career. However, there are other steps off the field that athletes can take to make the transition from athletics to careers easier. A major tool that’s often under-utilized is LinkedIn.

Get Started Early

100% of Student-Athlete Development & Career specialists surveyed agreed that student-athletes don’t leverage their existing connections enough when job searching. LinkedIn has made connecting with others easier than ever. 95% of career service directors put a strong emphasis on getting a jump on career exploration before an athlete’s senior year.

Setting up a LinkedIn profile during an athlete’s freshman year is the age that most Student-Athlete Development specialists encourage their athletes to begin the career navigation process. Doing so at an early age opens the door to connections, conversations, and opportunities with experienced professionals.

“If I were a current student-athlete, I would be all in on LinkedIn from an early age reaching out and setting up informational interviews with alumni and people who are in the field that interests me.”

Roberto SassoSeton Hall, Associate Director of Athletics: Student-Athlete Development & Leadership

“Start laying the foundation of your career early – draft a resume, create a LinkedIn, reach out to professionals to do informational interviews. These small efforts will add up in the long run and help launch your professional career early.”

Bethany CrouchSacramento State University, Student-Athlete Development and Success Coordinator

Reach Out

Like any social media platform, when a person of interest comes along, connect with them! 60% of Student-Athlete Career Service professionals recommended starting conversations and maintaining relationships with connections before an athlete has finished their time with their sport. Often, athletes underestimate the number of connections and underutilize them. Connections can come from within social networks—friends, teammates, coaches, parents— to mutual connections or interests – parents’ friends, former student-athletes or university alumni, professionals in careers of interest. Several people would be happy to chat and talk about their experiences and any other questions. Alongside this, doing research and discovering new positions can open new doors of interest.

“Don’t be afraid to reach out! There are people who are so eager to help you succeed. Ask them about their experiences, ask for advice, and listen carefully!”

Jaide Hinds-ClarkeVCU, Graduate Assistant for Student-Athlete Leadership Development

“Ask people in industries of interest to have virtual coffee with you! Connect with them via personal contacts, LinkedIn, or Twitter. Ask for 25 minutes to protect their time and keep that meeting within their timeframe. If coffee goes well, ask if you can stay in touch or follow up with them down the road to stay in touch.”

Kelsi SchaerUniversity of Pittsburgh, Director of Student-Athlete Development

“Don’t be afraid to reach out to someone. Most people are more than willing to help. If you don’t ask, the answer is always no.”

Lisa LawrenceUniversity of Illinois, Assistant Director of Illini Way Student-Athlete Development

Utilize Your On-Campus Resources

Student-Athlete Development specialists are there to set student-athletes up for future success, utilize them! These individuals are present to help with any career-related needs, such as resume and cover letter editing, interviewing, networking, career exploration, and much more.

“Leverage your experience, utilize your student-athlete development staff!”

Kimya MasseyOregon State University, Senior Associate Athletic Director

“Utilize your Career Development Office on campus as well as your staff in Student-Athlete Support Services. These two offices are here to serve student-athletes in their matriculation through college and on their transition into the workforce. They are great resources to take advantage of! Also, get involved in alumni events, networking, etc. so you can also leverage connections from your alma mater.”

Kelsey ArmstrongSacred Heart University, Academics and Student-Athlete Development Coordinator

"Network, network, network! Utilize all of the people and resources around you (University, Athletic Department, and personal) and make sure everyone knows you are looking. You never know where a connection will come from! Not only do you find jobs through networking, but you gather other knowledge that can help you no matter where you land!”

Angela MontieMichigan State University, Director of Student-Athlete Development

Recognize Your Current Skills

90% of student-athletes graduate from college, but not all leave employed. Many athletes struggle with experience, especially when their report dates don’t allow enough time to do internships. However, there are several skills that athletes obtain through their sport and that can be transferred into the workplace. Transferrable skills include result-oriented focus, critical thinking, time management, and several others. The key is to market the skills you learned through sport and use them to your advantage.

“Rely heavily on your experience during your time as a student-athlete. Although you may not have had time to participate in internships or work experiences that your non-student-athlete peers did, you bring something special to the table. If you can talk about how athletics helps you develop translatable skills into the job market, you will be an ideal candidate and hire.”

TJ BurnettStanford University, Student-Athlete Development Coordinator

“You have played an important role on your team. Your team was your organization and your coach was your supervisor. You have all of the transferable skills needed to be successful in the real world.”

Cole HendersonUNC Greensboro, Coordinator for Student-Athlete Development


At the end of the day, athletes need to recognize that while they feel they’re ‘lacking’ or ‘behind’ in their careers, there are key takeaways that set apart student-athletes, while making them desirable candidates in workplace settings. However, taking steps to lay the foundation for a successful future, provide greater benefits than if none were taken at all. Creating a professional “presence” through LinkedIn creates easy connections to the people they meet overtime. Utilizing on campus-resources allows for additional insight and assistance when exploring careers and future employers. Recognizing and being able to sell skills you’ve learned through sport highlights your character and can put you at an advantage when applying to new positions. 

“Understand how athletics has provided you with opportunities to be marketable. Leverage the relationships you’ve built throughout your athletic career. Do not compare your resume to non-athletes in regards to times available to spend volunteering, traveling, doing internships, etc. Instead, gain an understanding on what skills your sport helped you enhance, what leadership opportunities you’ve had through sport, and more.”

Laura HurleyHastings College, Director of Student-Athlete Development

About Game Plan

Game Plan’s comprehensive software platform integrates mobile-first eLearning as well as virtual mentorship and career services, uniquely designed for athletic organizations. Game Plan has over 275 athletic organizations with over 200,000 courses completed yearly. Our eLearning courses provide student-athletes ultimate access and flexibility while equipping both athletics departments and the conference office management tools and insight to ensure outstanding experiences and outcomes. To learn more about Game Plan, please visit wearegameplan.com.

By : Julia HatcherGame Plan Intern

Leader in Student-Athlete Engagement

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