K-State student-athletes have lunch with potential employers during the Career Cat Luncheon at the West Stadium Center in Manhattan, Kansas on April 28, 2014. (Scott D. Weaver/K-State Athletics)
May 4, 2014
By Kelly McHugh
On the playing field, K-State student-athletes are fierce competitors always working hard to represent their school in the best way possible.
However off the field and in the classroom, these Wildcats are just like all other students at K-State preparing themselves for a successful future.
From engineering to business to education, nearly every major is represented among the 450 student-athletes at K-State, and when it comes time to begin searching for a job, K-State Athletics offers the Career Cats program to help student-athletes.
Career Cats offers a series of events to better prepare junior and senior student-athletes for finding and starting a job after college. With seven workshops ranging from writing resumes to learning proper dining etiquette, once out in the real world, these student-athletes will be better prepared for what is to come.
"Everything has been very beneficial," said football captain B.J. Finney. "It ranges from money management to proper dress for interviews, proper dress on the job and even dining etiquette. It's all been very beneficial."
On April 28, the 50 student-athletes involved in the Career Cats program attended their final event - a Career Cats Luncheon where they had the opportunity to meet with representatives from 35 different companies.
Based on their major and their interest in certain areas, the student-athletes were paired up with a company representative to eat lunch with and get to know before the formal interview process.
"They got to spend that 45 minutes or so talking to these representatives about their jobs, their career path and how they got involved," explained Cori Pinkett, Director of Life Skills for K-State Athletics. "Then they received information from the employers about what they can do now to ensure they're ready to transition into their desired career."
After the lunch it was up to the student-athletes to use everything they learned over the semester to impress the companies' employers and representatives. Pinkett said the student-athletes received a list of the companies in attendance before hand and could choose from two to five companies to interview with.
At the end of the day, Pinkett said the event was a success. The representatives were very impressed with the poise and the confidence of this year's group of student-athletes.
"I talked to the employers and they were very impressed with how well spoken the student-athletes were," explained Pinkett after the event. "They were impressed with how confidently they approached the afternoon. They said they got a lot of good questions and had a lot of good dialogue."
Other events that took place over the course of the semester were a resume workshop where student-athletes learned how to write their resumes to highlight their strong points, a class on professional dress, a mock interview workshop and an evening of dining etiquette with "Mr. Manners," K-State college of human ecology instructor Pat Pesci.
"Being a junior, it finally hit me that I need to start thinking about graduating and what's going to happen after my time here at K-State," explained cross country and track and field distance runner Erika Schiller. "Learning the techniques about having a good interview, entering an interview properly and how to dress for an interview, I think that's something that we're not really taught in classes, but it's something that will really help all of us because we all want to score that great first job."
On his experience with Career Cats, K-State quarterback Jake Waters said, "I've learned a lot that I otherwise wouldn't have. For them to take the time out of their day to go out of their way and help us be prepared for the next step - that's pretty awesome."
Agreeing with both Schiller and Waters, women's golf senior Gianna Misenhelter said, "It's a really cool program because it's difficult when you're in season and playing your sport, but then you remember, 'Oh wait, I'm about to graduate and I need a job.' So this really gets our brains and our minds thinking about that."
Now in its 24th year, Career Cats has helped and continues to help numerous K-State student-athletes take that next step in life.
"I think the biggest takeaway is really helping them understand that they have value for future employers," said Pinkett. "A lot of times, they get so tunnel visioned in their athletic ability and think, 'I'm good at my sport, but I'm not sure what else I can do.'
"Being able to take them through this series of workshops, it helps them open up their minds a little bit about what different career paths they can choose when they leave, and it also shows them how valuable they are to future employers."
K-State's Tyler Lockett participates in a mock interview with GTM Sportswear during the Career Cat Luncheon at the West Stadium Center in Manhattan, Kansas on April 28, 2014. (Scott D. Weaver/K-State Athletics)
K-State's Gianna Misenhelter participates in a mock interview with the Greater Manhattan Community Foundation's Verne Henricks during the Career Cat Luncheon at the West Stadium Center in Manhattan, Kansas on April 28, 2014. (Scott D. Weaver/K-State Athletics)