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Student-athletes get summer job help
A placement network paves the way for busy student-athletes to find summer jobs.
By Christina Rexrode, Times Staff Writer
Published April 29, 2007
Jose Yearwood is a corporate recruiter's dream.
He's articulate, he's passionate, he's got a stellar GPA at Brown University, and he's a starting player on the school's football team 2005's Ivy League champs, thank you very much.
The one thing the former Spring Hill high schooler doesn't have, though, is loads of spare time to mail out stacks of resumes or otherwise market himself to those recruiters.
"You practice 25 hours; games take up your entire Saturday, you travel on Fridays; you meet as a team to go over game plans," said the 20-year-old Yearwood. "You do that all week, and on top of that you have classes."
"I can't say, 'I can't be at practice, Coach, because I'm going to be at a career fair.' "
Enter the Alumni Athlete Network, an ambassador to the working world for multifaceted superachievers like Yearwood.
Part of founder Ron Mitchell's pitch to companies is this: Some of your best potential hires can't make it to your career fairs because they've got to go to practice.
But the qualities required of a student athlete - passion, stamina and time management among them - make them perfect candidates for the sometimes grueling pace of business.
"Look," Mitchell tells companies, "you can get a student who has a 3.5 GPA, or you can get a student who has a 3.5 GPA and they've (also) learned how to lose and come back from a loss; they've been forced to work with people they might not like; they're competitive; they've performed under pressure."
(Mitchell, 36, embodies those qualities himself. He captained the basketball team at Harvard University for two years, and gave up a career in the competitive world of investment banking in 2002 to run the AAN full time.)
The AAN's flagship is its Wall Street internship program, which places sophomores and juniors at summer jobs in New York at financial giants like Citigroup, Deutsche Bank, Goldman Sachs, Merrill Lynch and UBS.
Yearwood, who is studying economics and ancient civilizations, applied for the program after hearing about it at school. In June, he's headed to JP Morgan Chase to work in sales and trading.
The online application process, he said, was convenient, and the AAN helped him prepare for the interviews with an online seminar. This will be the first internship for Yearwood, a rising senior; he stayed around campus last summer because his coach wanted him to work out with the team.
"I'm really excited just for the challenge this summer, just learning about the business and how things are done," Yearwood said, though he also admits he's slightly disappointed that he won't get to train with his teammates every day.
Since the Wall Street program started in 2004, the AAN has placed about 150 student-athletes in internships (from an application pool of 1,500). Their median grade-point average is an impressive 3.7, and almost 90 percent are offered full-time jobs at the companies where they intern.
Lauren Gaffney, a Citrus High School alumna, was part of that first intern group in 2004, the summer before her senior year. She swam for four years at Wellesley College, where she studied international relations and philosophy.
"I didn't have business knowledge at all," Gaffney recalled, "and I had intermediate economics knowledge. But the qualities of an athlete make you marketable in a way that other people don't have as visible on their resumes."
After a weeklong crash course on the financial sector, Gaffney spent the summer working for Banc of America Securities in risk arbitrage. Now 23, she's living in Switzerland and working toward a master's degree in international affairs at the University of Geneva.
Her old boss still e-mails her to ask if she wants to go back to sales and trading.