Years of participation in competitive sports not only shape athletes bodies, but, just as much, their character, their social, emotional and organizational skills. Athletes tend to be team players, self-organized people of high resilience, drive and adaptability. They are leaders and hard workers. They are, in other words, everything an employer should be looking for in their recruiting.
Yet, former (semi-)professional athletes often struggle to gain a foothold in the job market. Due to the prior dedication to their sport, their resumes lack the one thing recruiters tend to often narrowly focus on – work experience. Female athletes, often lacking the financial security their male counterparts enjoy, find themselves at a particularly strong disadvantage.
At Coaches Across Continents we believe in the extraordinary potential of female athletes to succeed in their post-sports career. Coaches Across Continents has a long tradition of working with active and retired professional and collegiate athletes and our trust in these women has been rewarded with invaluable contributions to our work and additions to our core team.
This past fall, three of these women decided it was about time Coaches Across Continents took action to extend support to a wider pool of female athletes – to boost their resume with work experience, professional skills, international travel and social engagement. The idea for STEP UP Career Development was born.
Now, three months later, we have developed the idea into a coherent project. With the advice of partner organizations and with the support of new team member, WSL Bristol City and Welsh International Player Megan Wynne, STEP UP has taken shape and currently being piloted with Megan herself and Megan Mackey of Harvard Women Soccer, Lewes FC and Republic Of Ireland International.
“The Step-Up Development program has been a great experience for me so far. The flexibility of the program has allowed me to fit it around my current training schedule, which is particularly important as a professional athlete. Throughout the program, not only have I been involved in several exciting projects, but I have also been given the opportunity to have an impact on those projects. The responsibility and tasks I have been given have helped me to develop key skills that will prepare me for life in the working world once I finish playing. I am grateful to CAC for giving me this chance and I would recommend it to any athlete, who wants to gain real life experience in an organization that is making a difference.” -Megan Wynne
“I first came to know about the step up programme through Nick Gates coming to speak to the Harvard Women’s soccer team. It sounded like a great way to gain vital professional experience whilst continuing to play soccer and he wasn’t wrong. The programme has allowed me to develop my critical thinking as well as refine the communication and teamwork skills I had already gained through playing soccer. Can’t wait to continue the journey at Coaches Across Continents” -Megan Mackey
Step Up is a professional development program for professional or collegiate athletes. Combining a customizable mix of learning modules with hands-on project-based work with Coaches Across Continents, Step Up will help female athletes to kickstart their post-sports career. Crucially, it is designed flexibly to adapt to athletes’ busy, and often unpredictable schedules.
In the long run, we are hoping to push for a threefold change with Step Up:
4. We want to provide an alternative to the career in the corporate world, encouraging talented young women to choose social impact and international development.
We want to be the next step for more strong women getting a chance to demonstrate their abilities in working together for a better world.