Yale Student Athletes Designing Careers

Stephanie Waite and Janelle Lewis found a sweet spot in Yale’s undergraduate population

to launch their first life design prototype: student athletes. Student athletes are an incredible place to start building some designing your life juju on campus -- they know how to work in teams, they know what it’s like to be coached and to coach one another, and they’re game to try out new techniques and strategies.

However, Stephanie and Janelle, Senior Associate and Assistant Directors, respectively, in Yale’s Office of Career Strategy, had a more practical original motivation to reach out to athletes: given their tight schedules, athletes can't attend other career office events. By the time they ran their athletes program, Stephanie and Janelle had already run a small life design session with graduate and professional students and were building on those learnings. They wanted to know if athletes would voluntarily show up to a similar event.


Not only did the undergraduate athletes show up, they wanted to blow through the breaks of the two, two and a half hour sessions held a week apart. Stephanie noted,” A typical Yale college student will sit silently and go up to a speaker after a talk, but in these sessions every single student spoke willingly”. She continued to highlight that “the undergrads truly appreciated the need for wild ideas and the perspective that people don't have to have everything planned out in their lives” said Stephanie. What most surprised Stephanie and Janelle was that the quietest athlete present immediately described her most useful learnings and on the way out of the final session, stopped at the door, turned to Janelle and Stephanie and said: "Thank you so much, this was perfect."

We often talk about attending to and jotting down activities in your average week that give you energy and drain your energy. Not only did Stephanie and Janelle feel that with more reps, they continue to improve as facilitators of life design, especially in how they transition between modules of content, but they also noticed that they leave every time feeling incredibly energized.

Next up for Yale? Stephanie and Janelle are going to bring back the first group of student athletes to help facilitate two sessions open to all of Yale College students. Stay tuned.