There are many benefits to being a student-athlete. You get to proudly represent your university while having access to your school’s exclusive training facilities and equipment. You form a bond with your fellow players and learn teamwork and sportsmanship. You also develop healthy habits, staying mentally and physically fit to excel in your performance. Many student-athletes also receive financial assistance to help fund their tuition, campus housing, and other school expenses.
However, it’s not all perks and glory. Being a student-athlete entails hard work, discipline, and commitment. You must meet all that is required of a student and an athlete, learning to effectively manage your time between classes and practices, as well as exams and athletic competitions.
Aside from practicing and training while maintaining your GPA, add finding a part-time job to your busy schedule. Even though you can now monetize your name, image, and likeness as a college athlete, getting a part-time job won’t just earn you some extra cash, it will also teach you real-life lessons as you transition to adulthood.
Here are some valuable things you can learn from getting a part-time job while balancing sports and studies.
The Importance of People Skills
As a student-athlete, you get to train with people who share the same interests and values. You know how to trust and communicate with each other on the court or on the field to achieve a common goal.
However, when you land a part-time job, you will often find yourself working with individuals with different personalities and beliefs, with different goals and commitments. You might not even like some of these people and some of them might not like you. It could be a co-worker in a restaurant who feels your lack of experience is backing up service. Or a supervisor with instructions and criticisms you don’t always agree with.
But to do your job, you must learn to work with this team. You’ll have to learn how to effectively communicate with them. You need to actively listen, understand, and empathize to minimize miscommunication and conflicts, and instead build trust, rapport, and respect. You must also learn how to receive feedback constructively, without being reactive and defensive.
The ability to positively interact with others, despite having diverse interests and backgrounds, allows you to form effective working relationships and helps you succeed at work and in life.
The Power of a Positive Attitude
After a long week of class lectures, project deadlines, and rigorous training drills, the last thing you may want to do is report to your Saturday shift at a local coffee shop—especially after a customer got upset with you the last time for misspelling her name and for topping her frappe with whipped cream after she specifically told you not to.
Instead of dwelling on the mishaps, overcome these challenges by looking at things with optimism. Learn from your mistakes and aim to better yourself. If you focus too much on the negatives, you might prevent yourself from improving. So, instead of dreading another blunder, smile at your next customer and spell out his name before you scribble it on his cup. Then repeat his order to make sure you got it right.
When you make a habit of seeing the bright side of things, you can take on even the most challenging situations with a positive mindset and view mistakes and setbacks as opportunities to learn and become better.
The Goal of Financial Freedom
The average professional athlete earns over $50,000 a year, with the top earners making almost $90,000 annually. If you wake up tomorrow and get drafted as one of the youngest players in history—congratulations! For most student-athletes though, it may take several years longer before you get your big break.
Instead of sitting on the bench, working and earning your own money teaches you to appreciate the value of every dollar. You won’t have to rely on your parents for cash as you take the first step toward financial independence. You will learn how to properly manage your finances and build good credit as a student.
Earning money from a part-time job helps ensure you pay your monthly balance on time. Establishing good credit while you’re young teaches you to become more reliable and responsible and positively impacts your ability to get a job, utility services, better insurance rates, better housing options, and more.
Success in a Different Career
While there are nearly half a million NCAA student-athletes, a much lower number make it to pro after college. Like any big game, finding a job inside or outside of sports requires hard work, discipline, and a solid game plan. Taking on a part-time job while studying can improve your employment prospects and help you succeed in your future career, whether it’s on the sports field or in the corporate arena.
Working part-time as a student-athlete does not only teach you to manage your time, but you also get to find and develop your other strengths. You can try different career options. You can find a job in health and fitness as a coach or trainer. You can try the food and restaurant industry as a member of the wait staff. You can also consider online gigs and do freelance work as a social media manager, virtual assistant, online tutor, or graphic designer.
Devoting even just a few hours a week over four years of college gives you hundreds of hours of shadowing or internship experience. This equips you with valuable knowledge and skills that can help you stand out in any career you choose.