Career Development Night Aims to Prepare Student-Athletes

LAWRENCE, Kan. – It took a lot of preparation and hard work against tough competition for Taylor Washington and the Kansas women’s track and field team to claim an NCAA National Championship last season. The Houston, Texas native who scored at the national meet as a senior on last year’s squad was still preparing and competing Monday night inside the Booth Hall of Athletics, but instead of trophies, Washington was hunting for jobs.

Washington was one of eighty Kansas student-athletes – mostly juniors and seniors – who participated in Kansas Athletics’ annual Career Development Night, designed to foster networking and create job opportunities for graduating student-athletes. Representatives from nearly 40 companies participated in the job-fair-like event, with former Kansas student-athletes returning to campus as resources for their active or graduating peers. 

“It was a great opportunity to come out and meet with different businesses and companies,” Washington, a communications major who wants to pursue a career in customer service or interacting with the community, said. “My goal was just to network with fellow Jayhawks and the companies here so when I graduate I’m more prepared. (Having former student-athletes here) was really neat and an easy way to start a conversation because we had something in common.”

Student-athletes from nearly every team participated in Monday night’s fair, starting with registration and hors d’oeuvres before hitting the booths and mingling with employers. The event lasted for more than two hours and included opportunities to volunteer and intern, along with graduate assistant positions and part- and full-time employment.

The event serves as a tool for student-athletes to consider what comes after athletics and graduation and for Washington its part of a transition during her final year in school.

“It’s really nerve-wracking because for the last four years I’ve had a plan and I knew what I was going to do,” Washington said. “Now I’m wondering what I’m going to do for the next four or five years. It’s really bittersweet and a little scary talking to these companies, but at the end of the day I think it’s all going to work out for good.”

Former Kansas wide receiver Daymond Patterson also attended the event. He graduated in December and spent some time trying out for NFL teams this summer. He’s ready to answer the call to continue his football career professionally, but he also thinks events like Monday’s should be taken seriously by student-athletes.

“I really wish I would’ve gone to it when I was still going to school,” Patterson said. “Once you get a taste of the real world, you understand that you have to go out and market yourself to get a good job and make money. Hopefully student-athletes take advantage of this because it’s really a great opportunity for them.” The official online source for Kansas Athletics, Williams Education Fund contributions, tickets, merchandise, multimedia, photos and much, much more.