At the 2020 NCAA Career in Sports Forum, student-athletes from across the country received important guidance from and networked with athletics administrators and sports industry experts from around the country. For Caroline Meizen ’21, one of five Bryant Bulldogs selected to attend, it was a key opportunity to connect her education with her future.
“The forum was such an eye-opening experience,” says Meizen, a Marketing major concentrating in Sport Studies who runs both cross country and track and field at Bryant. She says her forum experience, made possible through Bryant’s Athletics Department, will be invaluable as she prepares for her career. “It made me really think about what I want to contribute to the sports world and gave us a taste of what to expect,” she notes.
The wide world of sports
The three-day forum, held virtually this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, prepares junior and senior student-athletes for careers in sports by helping them learn more about themselves as leaders and aiding them in creating professional development plans. Forum session topics included understanding inner strengths, developing a career plan, approaching the job search process, and navigating the athletics industry as a young professional.
“I think we were all excited not just to learn more about the paths available to us, but to be able to network with other student-athletes who also want to make an impact through sports as well."
Meizen, who is planning for a career in corporate and fan engagement, related to marketing, fundraising and development, likens the forum’s wide range of sessions and topics to her Sport Studies curriculum, through which she’s taken courses in everything from sport psychology and sociology to the economics of sport and media production. "You get to see so many aspects of the sports world and how they all work together," she says. “One of the most important things you learn at Bryant is it's okay to explore different paths and find the one that’s right for you.”
Forum speakers included directors of athletics, representatives from athletics academic services, athletic conference officials, head coaches, and experts from professional sports and sports-related businesses. Meizen was especially impressed with a presentation by Dan Gavitt, the NCAA’s Senior Vice President of Basketball and a former director of athletics and recreation at Bryant University. “It was a really cool reminder of how far members of the Bryant community can go,” she notes.
The attendees, including Meizen and fellow Bryant student-athletes Matthew Crisafulli ’21, Emily Gordon ’21, Alex Rasmussen ’20, and Andrew Wallace ’21, also engaged in community-building breakout sessions with other student-athletes, allowing the Bryant students to make important connections. “I think we were all excited not just to learn more about the paths available to us, but to be able to network with other student-athletes who also want to make an impact through sports as well,” says Meizen.
“The forum’s energy, ideas and speakers were so powerful. I feel inspired and excited about my future!”
Through the conference, she notes, she was able to greatly expand the network she’s built among her teammates and other Bryant student-athletes. “It’s really special to be able to interact with other people with similar interests, especially from other schools and parts of the country,” says Meizen. “We all have this commonality of being student-athletes but the student-athlete perspective is different at each school. When we talk with one another, it allows each person to bring new ideas and perspectives to our conversations.”
She’s currently working on creating a Sports Business Association student organization on campus to connect Bryant students interested in careers in sports with new opportunities, mentors, and each other. The Bryant community, she says, has been a key asset in both her studies and athletic pursuits. “You can learn from each other and it helps create a support system you know you can rely on.”
The connections she’s made are just one reason she’s so excited by all the possibilities open to her, and she knows her time at the conference brought her one step closer to her dream career. “The forum’s energy, ideas and speakers were so powerful,” says Meizen. “I feel inspired and excited about my future!”