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‘Start small, think big’ and other alumni advice

Student-athletes have a variety of strengths to showcase to employers when they enter the job market, according to a panel of alumni who have been there and leveraged those qualities themselves.

The panel of former Furman student-athletes included Kena Hodges ’01 (women’s basketball), now vice president of human resources and administration at Broad Street Realty, Adi Filipovic ’06 (football), now managing director at Resurgens Technology, James Perez ’15 (cross-country/track and field), product owner at Duke Energy and co-founder of Stoke Performance, and Rachel Sindler ’21 (women’s lacrosse), an investment banking analyst at Bank of America Merrill Lynch. Head Women’s Basketball Coach Jackie Carson ’00 moderated the panel, an initiative between the Malone Center for Career Engagement and Furman Athletics.

‘Commitment to the grind’

Carson asked each to share what student-athletes could put on a resume or job application that reflects their unique skills and experience.

Filipovic said student-athletes should capitalize on their “commitment to the grind of doing the little things right and really believing … that if we all do the little things right, it makes a difference.”

Sindler said student-athletes can tout their ability to stay composed under pressure.

“While it’s a different type of problem or experience, or the shot clock winding down, we’ve all been through that as student-athletes, where you’re under pressure and you have to perform well.”

Hodges pointed to the willingness to trust others enough to delegate authority and the ability to take accountability for herself.

“I’m going to hire people who are really good in those areas that I am not as good,” she said. “So we all look good, we all complement each other.”

Perez emphasized a student-athlete’s particular ability to pivot in the face of failure.

“You’re going to mess up in practice,” he said. “But it’s done, it’s over with –  it’s the same thing at work. … Like Ted Lasso, you’ve got to have the memory of a goldfish and keep moving.”

Go beyond your team

Panelists also offered advice that could benefit current students right away.

“Study abroad if you can,” said Perez. “I didn’t. I really wish I did. I know it’s very difficult and you’re really competitive. If you can do it during the summer, just maybe try to make it work.” He also urged new graduates to “start small, think big” in a way that doesn’t mean settling for less but does allow them to see where an opportunity could take you.

“That first job out of school might not be perfect, and it probably won’t be,” said Perez. “Know you can learn skills there and pivot into new careers.”

Sindler pointed to the Malone Center for Career Engagement as a key resource for student-athletes.

“I did use the Malone career center a lot, and I reached out to them a bit earlier on in the process because of the job and industry I wanted to go into,” she said. “I would definitely make the effort to have just an intro meeting with someone at the career center or in the Internship Office, because that can get things moving for you.”

Panelists also urged current student-athletes to broaden themselves socially at Furman – an effort that would help them interact with diverse colleagues when they enter the workforce. While student-athletes have the advantage of starting Furman with their teammates serving as an automatic family, said panelists, that can also impose limitations.

“It was so stupid how insulated I was,” said Filipovic. “Like, ‘Why do I need anybody else?’ … But there was a whole university around. That changed over time, but it took way too long. The clock runs out. … You don’t get to do the college thing again.”

Added Hodges: “The world does not look like your team. That’s just the reality of it. … You never know where these relationships will take you.”

Last updated March 18, 2022
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Clinton Colmenares
News & Media Relations Director