Why Student-Athletes Have Traits That Lend to Workplace Success

  • Sean Corrigan
Life & Careers

No more practice after class. No more early morning lifts. No more constant travel, well maybe a little…

If you were a student-athlete in college, then your life has most likely been defined by tryouts, practices, and competitions for the last 15-20 years. Few people get to compete at such a high level without developing time management skills, making sacrifices, training hard on a daily basis, and most importantly, garnering support and help from family members, coaches, and teammates.

As student-athlete careers come to a close, many are left with two thoughts:

  1. What type of job should I take?
  2. What kind of marketable skills have I gained that would be attractive to employers?

I don't have an exact answer for you for the first question. My main piece of advice would be to make sure that you pursue a career that you think you will truly enjoy.

In regards to the second question, through our interview process at AlphaSights, I have been fortunate enough to meet a wide range of people from all different backgrounds and upbringings. Through interviewing candidates, I have found that many athletes exhibit consistent qualities derived from demanding schedules, stress-laden situations, and team-oriented atmospheres, which results in attractive traits that almost every employer (including AlphaSights!) covets.

Below are my thoughts on 3 key traits that student-athletes develop throughout their lifetime that translate seamlessly into the professional world.

Time Management

Student-Athletes are busy. A typical student-athlete will spend anywhere from 25-40 hours per week dedicated to their sport between practices, gym sessions, treatment, etc. On top of a regular course load and associated homework, this often doesn't leave an ounce of down time. Therefore, student-athletes become extremely adept at managing their time effectively to succeed in and out of the classroom by prioritizing their activities accordingly.

AlphaSights is a high growth company that constantly faces new challenges and opportunities at every turn. In addition to day-to-day responsibilities, many will take on additional projects that will have an impact at a firm wide level, but ultimately, it would be impossible to accomplish these additional initiatives without incredibly good time management skills. As people progress through their career, everyone must learn to manage their time effectively because with more power comes more responsibility (read: work). Why wouldn’t we want to hire someone who has already mastered this skill before their first day?


Student-Athletes are team players. Nearly every college sport culminates in a competitive team championship, and the buy-in that members of a team feel as they work towards a shared goal allows them to not only work hard to achieve it, but also to put aside their individual goals for the greater good of the team.

There are countless examples of athletes at the collegiate and professional level who have accomplished incredible individual feats without championship titles to go along with them. Allen Iverson scored 33.01 points per game in the 2005-06 season and only 10 players have more than that in one season all-time (Wilt Chamberlain 7 times). But Iverson's team, the 76ers, were 38-44 that season and missed the playoffs. One person alone does not win team championships.

Teamwork is critical to performance as a student-athlete or as a professional in the workforce. At AlphaSights, we look for individuals who can bring amazing individual talents, integrate those qualities into an existing team while simultaneously demonstrating humility and desire to learn from others.

Competitive Spirit

Student-Athletes want to be the best. Many people feel that being hyper competitive directly conflicts with being an incredible team member. I disagree. In fact, I feel that they go hand in hand.

People who are competitive seek to individually challenge themselves while being motivated by the greatness of those around them, which as a result creates an extremely high performing team.

Think about a run that you've gone on by yourself. Now think about a run you've gone on with a teammate. During which one did you push harder to go the extra mile?

At AlphaSights, we look to hire people who are going to constantly push one another to improve their work and leave the company better than when they found it.

Overall, student-athletes leave college with an incredible repertoire of skills that are transferable to a number of different work environments. Athletes truly thrive in fast-paced, team-based environments that allow for continuous skill development and require a constant drive to push the boundary farther than it's ever gone. At AlphaSights, we are certainly looking for more talented people who can do just that.


Sean joined AlphaSights in January of 2011 and serves as the Vice President of our Private Equity segment. Before joining AlphaSights, he played Division I collegiate tennis at the University of Notre Dame.