June 21, 2013
COLUMBUS, Ohio - All of the players on the Ohio State football team, and dozens more student-athletes from across the school's 36-sport Department of Athletics, took part in a first-ever student-athlete job fair at Ohio Stadium that drew senior staff and human resource representatives from 57 businesses and organizations and Ohio Governor John Kasich.
The job fair, an idea of coach Urban Meyer and organized by administrators in the football program, was an opportunity for Buckeye student-athletes to prepare now and to experience today the protocols, experiences, tools and preparation needed to secure a good job when their athletic playing days are over.
"This was real life and this was great," junior Joel Hale said while standing in the middle of three rooms full of business leaders from every industry and business sector, including manufacturing, medical, pharmaceutical, public safety and health, homeland security, retail, food, insurance, banking and finance, broadcasting, consulting and apparel.
"I have ideas now about how I want to prepare myself, and I've got a list of key contacts that I will email a `thank you' to tomorrow and possibly reconnect with once I graduate."
Appreciation by the student-athletes for the opportunity to experience such an event was ubiquitous.
"This is really an important event for us," senior Marcus Hall said. "This really shows how much Coach Meyer and this football staff care about us and our life and careers after football."
"It was really proactive," Hale continued. "This job fair helps ease us into what a real job search is going to be like."
Nationally known entities like Nike, ESPN, IMG, The Limited Co., Kroger Corporation, Cardinal Health, Net Jets, Wal-Mart and State Farm Insurance were part of a heavyweight lineup that also included the Cincinnati FBI, Columbus Zoo, Buffalo Wild Wings, Bob Evans, WBNS-TV, the Big Ten Network and many more local, regional and national companies.
NFL Players Association rep Troy Vincent was on hand and expertly handled a non-stop line of individuals wanting to speak with him.
The Buckeye players were ready for this night. Their preparation was comprehensive and extensive.
"Every football player had to have a new resume," said Ryan Stamper, the core contact and administrator from the football program for this event. "Every player learned about resumes and key components of them, and then our staff, support services staff and academic advisors helped each one update their existing resume or create a new one.
"And every one of our players, including freshmen, had to have a list going into the job fair of four business areas or interests that they would like to speak with reps about and learn about."
And the players did just that. Every Buckeye had dress pants and a tie on and many came in suits and sport coats. Each player also had a black binder that contained their questions, resume and pockets to collect business cards and contact info.
"This was an opportunity to look at a variety of career fields and to learn about a number of things I may want to get into," sophomore Armani Reeves, who is exploring majors at Ohio State, said.
Real Life Wednesdays
The players' prep included a weekly speaker program called "Real Life Wednesdays." These occurred over the past three months and included a wide range of topics and real life experiences. For instance:
- Harley Davidson CEO Keith Wandell spoke about the job interview process;
- ESPN analyst and Buckeye legend Chris Spielman spoke about parenting and being a good father;
- Basketball analyst and Buckeye basketball legend Clark Kellogg spoke about family and responsibility;
- Numerous former Buckeyes, like Tony Jackson (Cardinal Health), Ryan Miller (M2Marketing), Michael Doss (DePuy Orthopedics), Dee Miller (State Farm) and Jeff Logan (McCloy Financial Services), spoke to the team about their careers and experiences after football; and
- Kojak Fuller, the 1993 Indiana Mr. Basketball who had fathered three children by the time he was a senior in high school and later spent more than seven years in prison, spoke about the choices star athletes make today and their ramifications tomorrow.
Les Wexner, chairman and CEO of The Limited Brands, also spent time with the team this spring, as did Harry Trumbitas, FBI Special Agent (Ret.) and Dennis Maag, from J.P. Morgan Chase Bank.
"We've worked months for this event," senior Jack Mewhort said. "The coaches want us to succeed after football. And that's the big question mark for us. `What is after football?' The speakers we've heard and the people we've spoken to tonight have given us real insight into the opportunities and careers we can strive for."
Only at Ohio State?
It is hard to imagine any other school or location that could hold a student-athlete centered job fair and end up with such a comprehensive selection of major companies, many with their corporate headquarters in Columbus, so eager to participate.
And judging by the comments from the representatives at the event and the eagerness of the student-athletes to meet with them, the effort and the organization was not only well worth it but it is something that will be repeated over and over.
All this education today about the future tomorrow because, as the saying goes, "life does come at you fast."
And the Buckeyes will be ready.