Networking night for student-athletes at UA

The University of Alabama’s Athletic Department hosted a networking night through its D.R.I.V.E for Success program on Feb. 17. The event was dedicated to current junior student-athletes receiving mentorship from former student-athletes.
“What we are trying to do it somewhat fulfill part of our mission and that is to help people be productive and successful in life after graduation,” said Doug Walker, the associate athletic director at UA.
Students who attended the event had the opportunity to debrief business professionals who appeared such as Leslie Claybrook, assistant commissioner for the Southeastern Conference; J.C. Ranelli, president of J.C. Ranelli and Company, Inc, and Atokie Boman, investment advisor representative for Primerica.
“It’s about more than just the competitive and educational aspect, it’s part of a broader life skills program. It’s almost like a trial run for interviews, which is golden at that stage of life. The event is one of the most important things we provide for the student-athlete welfare,” said Walker.
D.R.I.V.E helps young student-athletes prepare for what to expect from a job interview, master their elevator pitches and connect people with potential future employers. UA instills that networking is crucial in the job search process with statistics proving that 80 percent of jobs are established through knowing someone.
Local and regional businesses like to hire student-athletes and Ranelli was blown away by the group of athletes in attendance.
“A lot of things are built around attitude and a lot of these things depend on what you put into the event itself. They could have long-lasting benefits, but the results aren’t evident right away,” said Walker.
Many aspects of networking go behind creating an event like D.R.I.V.E. The Athletic Communications Department has many tentacles attached to a lot of different people and places that they take advantage of for networking events.
“It’s making connections with those businesses and continuing to build on those relationships. There’s invested interests for the businesses to be a part of that so keeping that relationship going is a big part of the success because you want to bring quality people to meet with these young people to give them a chance to get seen and discuss possibilities with them,” said Walker.

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