When I first began playing tennis at seven years old, I never in my wildest dreams could have imagined the places that it would take me and the people it would lead me to meet. When I earned a full athletic scholarship to play tennis at the University of Connecticut, all of my hard work and dedication finally paid off.
The next four years playing for UConn were some of the most amazing, yet grueling, experiences of my life. The lessons that I learned as a Division 1 student-athlete have made my transition into the “real world” that much more comfortable, and helped to prepare me for my internship at Hollywood Agency (and life after it). Here are five post-graduation lessons I took from being a student-athlete.
- Losing doesn’t always mean you’re defeated.
Losing is the worst feeling in the world. Nobody can really argue otherwise. But losing is inevitable, not only in sports, but also at work and in school. Accepting loss, however, is just as important as celebrating victories. Losing gives you the motivation to strive toward being the best version of yourself. After all, winning wouldn’t mean anything if it was easy. Whether a lost match or disappointing grade, learning from defeat is an underrated experience that almost always impacts future success.
- Preparation is half the battle.
Studying for final exams or preparing for that huge presentation is comparable to playing a D1 sport in that it requires a lot of mental preparation. As a student-athlete, there are small details that cannot be overlooked prior to a match. All schoolwork needs to be completed before a road trip or competition. Only after that can you take care of all the match tactics. Scouting rival teams, examining your opponent’s individual strategies and determining the right nutrition habits are just some of the small factors that can make a huge difference. In any sport or work atmosphere, it doesn’t always matter which person is the best on paper. At the end of the day, the competitor with the most drive and will to succeed will ultimately end up on top.
- Focus on one point at a time.
As a tennis player, this one little sentence has been programmed into my head since my earliest days on the court. I didn’t realize until now how relevant this advice is in the real world, too. There is nothing that you can change about the past; all that you can ever do is focus on what is happening in the moment. Maybe you’re trying to land your dream job or get the promotion you’ve been working towards, or maybe you’re just trying to win on game day. All you can do is be outstandingly present and determined during each and every “point.”
- Balancing a busy schedule.
Five a.m. workouts, four-hour practices, making it to class on time, and, oh yeah, finding the time to eat, shower and squeeze in any sort of a social life. They call us “student-athletes,” but the athlete part is often emphasized over education. Professors expect you to get straight A’s, though you’re missing five to ten classes per course each semester. This means extra hours – in study hall, in professors’ offices and copying notes from classmates. On top of all that, you have to study for exams on the plane, run on about five hours of sleep (on a good night!), and continue to be pushed mentally and physically during practice. Not easy, but it definitely teaches you the value of time management and multi-tasking, skills you need in every job field.
- There is no “I” in team – really.
Sure, there are successful individuals in this world, but how did they get there? They weren’t always on their own. They learned from their families, peer groups and classmates. My teammates and coaches quickly became my second family during my four years as a student-athlete. They pushed me harder than I could have ever pushed myself and guided me as I learned my strengths and weaknesses. It’s not hard to imagine that your colleagues will end up becoming family, too, helping you grow as a professional while working toward the same collective goals.
Transitioning from college to the working world has not been an easy change. However, I was extremely lucky to make that shift while interning at Hollywood Agency and having four years of competitive team experience in my back pocket. In the last four months (and the four years before that), I was put completely out of my comfort zone and, as a result, learned even more than I thought I would. Not to mention, landed my first full-time job at a rising startup in Boston.
I’m so thankful for my experiences as both a D1 student-athlete and a Hollywood Agency intern. They’ve both helped guide me to where I am today.
Never forget: always take it one point at a time.