On Wednesday, Sept. 19, Clemson student-athletes had the opportunity to meet with various employers from many different professions at the newly-reformatted Tiger Pro Night. Clemson’s Student-Athlete Development department welcomed 67 employers to the event, including BMW, Ford, General Electric, SunTrust and the US Department of State. Over 100 student-athletes as well as students from three other Clemson organizations, had the opportunity to meet and interact with these companies.
Formerly known as “Tiger Pro Day”, the newly-rebranded Tiger Pro Night offered student-athletes, as well as select other Clemson students, a relaxed environment to interact with potential future employers while granting hiring companies access to a talented and diverse group of Clemson students.
Sunny Dueland, Clemson’s Director of Student-Athlete Development, explained the transformation of the event.
“This is an event for juniors and seniors to come together with employers to network and make strong connections for life after sport. This program started five years ago and was very student-athlete specific, but this year we decided to make it a collaboration. So, while student-athletes are a majority of the population, we are also working with other organizations to bring all of this together.”
Julian Jones, Assistant Director of Student-Athlete Development, works specifically with the department’s Career Development programs.
“Tiger Pro Night is a networking event for student-athletes and others to relax and be themselves in an environment that’s a little bit less professional than a career fair. We want to offer them a relaxing environment where they can interact with employers they may be interested in.”
Other Clemson organizations that participated in this year’s Tiger Pro Night included the Calhoun Honors College, the Clemson Student Veteran Center and the Harvey and Lucinda Gantt Multicultural Center. The inclusion of other organizations gave underrepresented students opportunities to network one-on-one with employers and each other.
“Tonight was a great way to warm up for career fairs in the future,” noted Rebecca Pulsifer, a junior on the Clemson rowing team. “It was very informal and we were able to walk around and talk to people about internship programs, jobs, leadership development and other opportunities. It was great being able to do that with my friends and teammates, so we could lean on each other for support and network in a lower pressure environment.”
The timing of Tiger Pro Night leverages employers who are on the Clemson campus for the University’s traditional career fairs. Sometimes student-athletes may be isolated due to the demands of their schedules, however this event gives them the opportunity they otherwise may not have, to network with not only employers, but also with fellow students. It provides a casual, yet professional setting focusing on their professional aspirations rather than their athletic statuses.
Nate Hall, a junior on the men’s soccer team, agreed.
“I was able to talk to different employers to get an idea of what they do, which was helpful for me as I begin to figure out my future. It also helped me to learn what they are looking for in potential job candidates, as well as what the hiring process looks like. Everyone was outgoing and it was an easy and comfortable environment to be able to start a conversation with the employers about their companies.”
Logan Morris, a sophomore on the cross country team, also gained a lot from the experience.
“It was great practice for me, in terms of talking to people, handing out my résumé and getting my name out there. It was cool to see so many options for student-athletes and also to gain experience talking to employers in a professional setting.”
Elijah Thomas, a senior men’s basketball player also shared his thoughts.
“This is a great event for us as student-athletes to be able to talk to so many different companies with so many different jobs. It gives us a good outlook on our futures before we leave school, and helps us to have a better idea of what’s out there in our field.”
Some of the employers in attendance shared their positive experiences as well, including Clemson alumni Paul Sinanian of BMW.
“Several years ago someone from the organization approached me with an idea to make student-athletes feel comfortable networking from their perspective. They can be at a disadvantage to the students on campus who get opportunities to go out and co-op or gain industry experience before graduating. The idea of this event is to bridge the employers and student-athletes so that they receive some exposure.”
“Once the students feel comfortable, they approach us and they ask a lot of great questions,” Sinanian expanded. “This group is slightly removed from the general student body and now they have the opportunity to feel comfortable and have some face time with employers one-on-one. It’s a great idea.”
Chimere Ravenel of the US Department of State echoed Sinanian’s views.
“The experiences that these students have is beyond me. They knew about my organization and I really loved the diversity of those that came up and talked to me. My office is focusing on recruiting student-athletes, and minorities as well. I like events like this that are more along the lines of information sessions, providing more one-on-one conversations in a more intimate setting.”
After hearing everyone’s reactions, it was clear that the newly restructured Tiger Pro Night resulted in a win for Clemson students, student-athletes and prospective employers alike.