Female Student-Athletes Unite with Professionals

Maryland Athletics
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“How many of you are undefeated?” Libby Smack, Marketing & Recruiting Director for AXA Advisors asked a crowd of University of Maryland female student-athletes. When no one raised their hand she told them, “Good. You’ve lost. You’ve fallen off the beam. You’ve hit a stumbling block. You’ve lost in a tournament. You’ve lost, you’ve learned and then you’ve moved forward.”

Smack and Sadie Edmonds, Talent Acquisition Manager for Enterprise, started the night off for Maryland’s Student Welfare and Career Development’s Female Roundtable Discussion Tuesday evening at Heritage Hall. The panel united current female student-athletes with professional women in the workforce, including some former Maryland student-athletes, who gave them advise as they look forward to careers after college.

“The thing I’m looking for the most is former athletes,” Edmonds said. “Former student-athletes do exceptionally well in our environment.”

Though Edmonds was not an athlete in college, as a member of Enterprise, one of the largest recruiters of student-athletes, she believes the skills that athletes have from years of waking up early, pushing themselves and never giving up stand out to recruiters.

Smack and Edmonds emphasized throughout the night the many skills that athletes have that they may not realize are valuable attributes, including time management, teamwork and interpersonal skills that come from encouraging teammates day in and day out.

The second portion of the panel included former Maryland student-athletes including Martha VanLieshout, Ashley Cox and Ginny Bowen, all former swimmers for the Terps. Each had valuable advice in an intimate question and answer session.

Former SAAC president VanLieshout reminded the crowd that when it comes to job interviews and applying for positions, it is important to treat it like they treated recruiting.

“A good way to think about going into the workforce is how you prepared for Maryland, how you prepared for recruiting,” VanLieshout said. “The key thing is just selling yourself and knowing how.”

Cox pointed out a resource that Maryland students often do not realize they have as such a unique benefit: the location. College Park has a metro station just off campus that can provide a quick commute to Washington, D.C. Additionally, the campus is in close enough proximity to Baltimore, Md., to find internships there.

“Utilize the college park location,” Cox said. “It’s awesome.”

When it comes to transitioning from being a student-athlete to a professional, Bowen explained the most important aspects in terms of no longer having a coach telling you exactly what to do.

“You’re not going to have that workout on the board,” Bowen said. “You have to have that initiative. We are athletes; we already have that go-getter mentality. It’s just a matter of transitioning from using your body physically and using your mind.”

The event was very appreciated from the current student-athletes as they were given this valuable time to ask the questions they have been wondering about, but never knew who to ask. The event gave them access to professionals who had been in their positions just a couple years previously.

“It’s really helpful talking to girls that not only are in the workforce now, but have been in our position before,” Maryam Fikri, senior on Maryland’s track & field team said. “We can relate to them on many levels and they can give us good advice that tailors to our experiences.”