For student athletes at ESCA, who aspire to turn their athletic passion into a career, it's important to start preparing early. A successful transition to professional athlete status takes planning, dedication and hard work. At ESCA, where our vision is to develop the talent of Africa, our students are backed by our committed team of teachers, coaches and wellness professionals. ESCA supports the next generation of athletes and performers to turn dreams into reality. Here are some tips for professional student athletes who want to pursue a career in their sport:
- Focus on your academics
Although your passion may lie in your sport, it's important not to neglect your academic work. A good education can open doors to a variety of career options and it also serves as a backup plan in case your athletic career doesn't go as planned. Additionally, a strong academic record can enhance your resume and make you a more attractive candidate to potential employers, as scholarships to local and international universities are based on both your sporting and academic results.
- Network with industry professionals
One of the most effective ways to break into the professional world of sports is by networking with industry professionals. Attend industry events, connect with professionals on LinkedIn and reach out to alumni who are working in your field of interest. You never know who might be able to offer you a valuable connection or piece of advice.
- Seek out internships and job shadowing opportunities
Internships and job shadowing opportunities are a great way to gain valuable experience and exposure to the professional world of sports. Look for opportunities with sports teams, agencies and organisations in your area and apply early. These experiences can give you a taste of what it's like to work in the industry and they can also help you make valuable connections.
- Build your brand and create a portfolio
In today's digital age, it's important to have a strong online presence and personal brand. Consider creating a professional website or social media profiles to showcase your skills, achievements and personality. You can also create a portfolio of your athletic accomplishments, such as videos of your game highlights, statistics and testimonials from coaches and teammates.
- Stay focused, dedicated and develop a strong work ethic
It's important to stay focused and dedicated to your athletic career goals. Keep practising, competing and working hard to improve your skills and performance. Set realistic goals and create a plan to achieve them, and don't be afraid to ask for help or advice along the way.
- Seek out mentorship
Having a mentor can be incredibly valuable for professional student athletes. A mentor can provide guidance and advice on navigating the industry. ESCA’s high performance student athletes are paired with a mentor who has competed in sport at the highest level and therefore understands what it takes to pursue one's dreams as a competitive athlete.
- Be prepared to face challenges and setbacks
Finally, it's important to be prepared to face challenges and setbacks as a professional athlete. Whether it's an injury, a loss, or a setback in your career, it's important to stay resilient, humble and to keep pushing forward. Remember that setbacks are a natural part of any career and that overcoming them can make you stronger and more adaptable in the long run.
In conclusion, pursuing a career in sports as a professional athlete requires a combination of academic excellence, athletic prowess, networking skills, dedication, hard work and a willingness to adapt and face challenges. By focusing on developing a strong work ethic, seeking out mentorship and coaching, and being prepared to face challenges and setbacks, you can position yourself for success in the competitive world of professional sport.