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In 2003, Sarah Sassee-Kildow was a first-team All-American golfer at Nebraska. She was also the Big 12 Golfer of the Year, a 3-time NCCA Championship participant, a National Golf Coaches Association Scholastic All-American, a 5-time Nebraska Women’s Amateur Golf Association State Stroke Play Champion, a World University Golf Championship runner-up, a 4-time first-team Academic All-Big 12 golfer and a 3-time first-team All-Big 12 player. Yes, Sasse-Kildow, achieved well beyond what most golf followers would expect from a student-athlete competing in Mid-America.
“I was so consumed with competition, I never really thought about golf not being something I would do for the rest of my life,” Sasse-Kildow said. “That’s why I was so excited to have a booth at the Nebraska Student-Athlete Career Fair – to remind every student-athlete I met to think about the big picture – to look beyond their sport, identify their skill set and pursue their career. I was so busy competing, I didn’t do that. I don’t want anyone to make the same mistake I did.”
After getting her bachelor’s degree, Sasse-Kildow played three years on the Futures Tour of the Women’s National, also known as “The Road to the LPGA” (Ladies Professional Golf Association). She then spent three years in pharmaceutical sales before becoming a real-estate agent in Lincoln. “I love it,” she said. “The Lincoln market is really hot right now, so we were recruiting at the Career Fair. Selling fits the athletic mindset. Athletes are used to setting aggressive goals and going above and beyond to achieve the goals they set.”
Take it straight from someone who’s been near the top of her sport. The annual Student-Athlete Career Fair, sponsored by NU’s nationally prominent Life Skills Department, is a big deal because it forces student-athletes to focus on the big picture. On a recent Monday night, the 2012 Career Fair made the West Stadium’s third-floor an important stop for 450 Husker student-athletes planning their life journey’s in the midst of their college athletic careers.
Burkhead, Fisher, Long Among Attendees
NU’s Student-Athlete Career Fair is an outside event that draws a lot of football players, even when it comes during the heart of their season – from future doctors Sean Fisher and Spencer Long to future teacher/coach Rex Burkhead, who’s trying to bounce back from injury to help lead the Huskers to a Big Ten Championship and a postseason bowl game. Check around a crowded room at a Career Fair, and you can find Amber Burgess Wade, who played softball at Nebraska a decade ago and returned as a representative of Lincoln Fire and Rescue. Kellen McClure, a Nebraska high jumper recently hired by Eli Lilly; was at the Career Fair. So was former Husker all-around gymnast Gina Bruce Saccoman, who now works for Renaissance Financial.
Reinertson, a sophomore on the Nebraska men’s golf team, said the Career Fair was a valuable experience because it gave him the opportunity to talk with a couple business firms that caught his interest.
“Since I’m getting one of my degrees in Finance, I had an interest in both the banking side of things, and also a possible career planning firm,” Reinertson said. “With both companies, I was able to talk with very friendly and interesting people that answered a lot of my questions about internships and possible jobs that are available for people who are new to their company. I was glad to hear that both firms had short-range opportunities over the summer up to a 6-month or a 1-year type of position.
“Our Student-Athlete Career Fair is nice for me because I’m not sure yet what I want to do when I graduate with both my Finance and Business Education degrees,” Reinertson said. “I haven’t figured out my calling, but it’s always good to have a couple different options to look into. Thank goodness the Life Skills Department puts this event on for us every year because it really helps a person get a jump on planning for life after college and life after sports. The Career Fair is definitely one of the reasons why Nebraska is such a great place to go to school and be an athlete!”
Seeing Student-Athlete Career Fair from Another Side
A former standout Husker softball player, Drake became a Business Development manager for National Research Corporation (NRC) in August. NRC is a patient-centered healthcare provider. “My first encounter with my current employer was actually at the Career Fair a year ago,” Drake said, “so it was an interesting experience being on the other side of the table.
“Our Student-Athlete Career Fair is great for both companies and student -athletes because it promotes being proactive in every student-athlete’s future, more specifically in our life after sports,” Drake said. “The transition is challenging and comes very quickly, and it’s very exciting to see companies taking interest in our student-athletes’ futures.”
The opportunity extends beyond local companies and regional employers. “A lot of the companies represented at the Career Fair are national corporations, and they’re located all across the United States,” Drake pointed out. “The opportunity works both ways. The Student-Athlete Career Fair is a major benefit to the companies attending because it gives them the chance to reach talented individuals before other employers!”
Drake said she’s “extremely grateful” for her experience at Nebraska because she became a “well-rounded person” who was allowed to focus on education and a career path at the same time she competed. “Nebraska is dedicated to making every student-athlete well-rounded,” she said. “That’s why it’s so great that all these companies come to our Student-Athlete Career Fair. It gives them exposure to hundreds of seriously competitive students who have been disciplined and dedicated their entire lives.”
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