Building Your Career

Many individuals have utilized experiences from sport as an analogy to life, that the principles and disciplines an individual learns from sport can equip and prepare them to meet all of life’s challenges and opportunities. As the season of college graduation approaches, many will be transitioning from a life of academic studies into a stage of life that focuses more attention on one’s employment journey.

If sport parallels well with life, then ESPN’s NFL Insider Adam Schefter’s career journey in the sports world is one many can learn from. I have had the privilege of hearing Adam Schefter speak on multiple occasions, and here are three lessons he has shared from his sports career journey that can be applicable to anyone to as they run their own career race.

Know that every “no” creates another opportunity for you somewhere else.

Rejection is part of the career-building process. Not every application that is filled out turns into a job offer. Not every opportunity is a possibility. Adam’s journey wasn’t any different. As an undergraduate student at the University of Michigan, Adam approached the football and basketball programs respectively and offered to work voluntarily. Each of those programs turned down his offer. Those rejections, along with those from other areas, led him to the Michigan Daily, the campus newspaper, and that is where he began writing voluntarily as their sports writer. According to Kudish (2017), the average job seeker is rejected 24 times before they get a “yes.” Sometimes the best thing that can happen to an individual is for someone to tell them “no.”

Know your first job will not be your last.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (2016), the average number of years an employee had been with their employer was 4.2 years (4 years for women / 4.3 for men). The average of those aged 25 -34 was 2.8 years with an employer. After graduating from the University of Michigan in 1989, Adam’s worked for eight months for the Detroit Free Press and as a researcher for Ann Arbor News. Those opportunities led him to the Denver area where he spent the next 14 years (Schefter, n.d.). In total Adam’s career to this point in time has included five career stops. He has been with ESPN since 2009.

Know that a career is built over time.

In building opportunities into a career, the work that individuals’ accept falls into one of three categories: a career, a stepping stone, or a job. Regardless of how the work is categorized, whether it is a job, a stepping stone, or an actual career, the most important thing graduates entering the workforce must remember is to make the most of the opportunities and experiences that present themselves. Career building is a marathon, not a sprint. Each mile in the career building marathon relies on the training, effort, and preparation of the work invested from the previous mile.

In the end, no one knows or can predict where their career journey will take them or how it will unfold. Adam never imagined his career journey would lead him to where he is at now. All he did was make the most of the opportunities presented to him, work hard, and treat people well that he met along the way. As individuals begin to enter into their own career race this graduation season, take the knowledge provided by Adam Schefter’s career journey in sport into the challenges and opportunities that you will face in building and running your own career race.


Pew Research Center. (2016, October 6).  How Americans view their jobs.
Schefter, A. (n.d.).  NFL Insider at ESPN.
Walfish, J. (2013, April 10).  ESPN’s Adam Schefter returns to Northwestern to discuss career, give job tips.  The Daily Northwestern.
Kudisch, J. (2017, March 10).  Career coach:  Turned down for a job? You are now one rejection closer to success.  The Washington Post.
U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2016, September).  Employee tenure in 2016.

The University of Mary Hardin-Baylor Career Services Center provides assistance to both undergraduate and graduate students in career development and preparation endeavors. Stop by for more information on achieving your career success.