by Cori Enghusen
I am a former professional basketball player who has recently transitioned to a corporate career. A Washington State native, I was one of the most highly recruited high school graduates nationally in my class, a 4-year scholarship athlete at Stanford, and a draftee to the WNBA’s Houston Comets. But the majority of my 14 year post-college career existed abroad, including 10 years spent in Turkey. I am one of the first players to represent two different countries at the national level, medaling with both. I have played with and against some of the greatest to have ever played the sport. I have won championships, been voted an All-Star, and served as captain, each many times over.
When the time came to make a career shift, I learned quickly that the interest garnered by my experience as an athlete was often enough to get my foot in the door. But, to get to a second interview, I needed to learn how to talk about the relationship of professional athletics to an organized mission. I don’t mean how to spin it to sound good….. well, I don’t only mean that. In my career, I had done hundreds of interviews and countless public speaking engagements… I can spin stories. But I needed to learn the vocabulary to speak intelligently about how my experiences until then had prepared me more than other candidates vying for the same role.
During my career, I did more than just compete on the court. I helped start, and continue to be a main contributor of, a fundraising group aimed at defeating ALS. I interned in public relations, corporate relations, and branding. I was a door-to-door salesperson, (of windows, if you can believe that), a caterer, and a bartender. I also earned a master’s degree from a Top 20 business school, and later an associates degree in Project Management. Though I wanted to play as long as I could, I knew that professional athletics can be finicky and that careers can unexpectedly be cut short. I did anything I could to increase the comprehensiveness of my resume, and help me discover what I wanted to be when I grew up. My goal: retire when I chose to, not when I was forced out due to injury, age or obsolescence.
For the majority of athletes that continue on to a professional level, our sport has been our job and our main focus since we were children. For those that cannot financially sustain themselves after they retire from their sport without further employment, the transition can be extremely difficult and uncomfortable… and often times it’s an enormous struggle to adjust. I will be moderating a panel of former athletes who excelled in their sports, then went on to excel in their corporate career that followed. Click here to join the conversation.