How Your Skills as an Athlete Translate to the Working World

There are lots of valuable skills you have learned and honed as a Division I Varsity Athlete. In fact, what has made you successful as an athlete can also make you competitive for jobs and internships. Each of these skills is a strength you bring to a working environment. By becoming comfortable communicating how these abilities translate to a particular position, you will be able to more successfully demonstrate how you have the skills and experiences to succeed in almost any professional environment.

Here are examples of some of the skills you possess and examples of how you might translate them to the world of work.


In many jobs, it's important to be able to work well as part of a team. In fact, in some areas such as consulting, advertising, and publishing most of your projects will be team-based.

Example: As a member of Penn's basketball team, I fully understand and appreciate how to balance roles, responsibilities and individual strengths in a group to achieve the best results as a team.

Endurance/Work Ethic

The work culture of some positions and industries (investment banking, corporate law, teaching, international affairs, some areas of medicine, etc.) call for incredibly long work days and lots of hours per week.

Example: Getting up at the crack of dawn for practice five days a week for my four years on Penn's rowing team taught me how to survive long days and still be "on" for each thing I do. Having successfully navigated my rigorous schedule as an athlete, I'm confident that I will have little trouble adjusting to the long hours of this position.

Competitive Spirit

To succeed in some types of jobs (real estate, sales, trial law, public relations, politics, fundraising, sales & trading, etc.), you need to be competitive and enjoy some healthy competition.

Example: As a division I athlete, I'm clearly someone who thrives in a competitive environment. In fact, I find that I'm best motivated by a challenge and trying to meet a goal. Throughout my time as a high jumper on Penn's Track & Field team, I have consistently pushed myself to achieve new personal bests. Achieving those feats is just as or sometimes more satisfying than defeating an opponent.

Time Management

While all jobs and internships call for good time management skills, in deadline driven industries (journalism, consulting, media & entertainment, communications, event planning, etc.) this skill is especially critical.

Example: As a member of the Penn Football team, I quickly learned the necessity of managing my time well. To successfully juggle coursework, practice schedules and away games, I had to effectively prioritize tasks and work efficiently.

Pursuit of Excellence

As an athlete, you consistently push yourself to your limits to achieve top results. To succeed, you have to give 100% or even 110% all the time. This is a trait that any employer will appreciate.

Example: Every time I step into the gym as part of the Penn Gymnastics team, I love the thrill of giving my all. Because every little detail counts in how my performance is scored, I can't afford to make a mistake. I look forward to bringing that same level of enthusiasm and pursuit of excellence to your office.

Ability to Perform Well Under Pressure/Make Decisions Quickly

Clearly, as an athlete, often with hundreds of spectators watching you and your teammates depending on you, you know how to deliver during crunch times. Again, this ability will serve you well in any position, but especially in jobs/internships that are known for being high-stress (TV News Producer, Trial Lawyer, Investment Banker, Intelligence Agent, Politics, Surgeon, etc.)

Example: My experience on Penn's Varsity Lacrosse team has taught me how to think quickly on my feet. The fast pace of the game requires that I constantly try to anticipate the next move of other players both on my own team and those of the opposing team. This means that I have to instantly evaluate data and make a decision as to what my next move will be. Through my experience on the team, this process has become ingrained in me so that I can easily and confidently make decisions quickly, even in high stress situations.

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