Oct. 17, 2017
Gopher Athletics' Student-Athlete Development office hosted its fourth-annual Pro Day for Gopher student-athletes and Minnesota businesses on Monday night inside the DQ Club Room at TCF Bank Stadium.
A job fair and networking event, Pro Day connected those 75 participating organizations with nearly 600 Gopher student-athletes to build relationships, learn more about a variety of companies and career opportunities, and grow professionally for life after athletics.
The idea for Pro Day grew from the suggestion of a Gopher student-athlete and has expanded every year since its inception in 2014. Gopher Athletics welcomed 75 organizations to this year's event, nearly 70 percent more than the 45 that attended the inaugural Pro Day three years ago.
Companies from across Minnesota began filling the DQ Club Room as the business day ended, setting up their stations throughout the space and enjoying some dinner before student-athletes flooded into the facility. First-year Gophers were visited the M Club Room on the stadium's ground level for a Pro Day orientation to best navigate the event. Heidi Riese from Land O'Lakes, Inc., spoke on how to get the most out of Pro Day and provided tips for connecting with organizations, notably how to deliver a successful elevator speech.
Once inside the DQ Club Room, student-athletes roamed the various stations, passed out resumes, and talked with individuals across industries. During the two-hour event, student-athletes also had the chance to take professional headshots for their LinkedIn pages or attend either of a pair of breakout sessions. The first of those was led by Mitch Zimmer from North Star Resource Group, who spoke about how student-athletes can use the skills learned by playing sport to nail job interviews. The second featured Nick Koewler from Land O' Lakes, presenting on how to build on a career fair experience to develop a job path to success.
New this year, student-athletes could download the mobile GuideBook app to maximize their Pro Day experience. The app allowed student-athletes to search companies attending Pro Day and what jobs and internship they had available, match majors to career paths, review event prep checklists, and follow-up with employers after the event.
Women's gymnast Rachel Rowland has shown that Pro Day really does work. Now a senior, Rowland gained an internship, directly due to Pro Day. As a sophomore, Rowland came to Pro Day, visited the ACR Homes station, and eventually obtained an internship from it. She's since worked with the organization and plans to continue as a Direct Care Professional even after college.
"Pro Day is an incredible and one of a kind opportunity for student athletes at the University of Minnesota," Rowland said. "My advice to other student-athletes is to take full advantage of these opportunities, come prepared and have an open mind. You never know what connections might help you in the future."
Gopher Athletics would like to thank the following for joining the Fourth-Annual Pro Day:
ACR Healthcare Group / ACR Homes
APi Group Inc.
Buffalo Wild Wings
Community Involvement Programs
East Side Neighborhood Services
Enterprise Rent A Car
Ernst & Young
Fairview Health Services
Foresters Financial Services, Inc.
Genz-Ryan Plumbing & Heating/Inspiration Design Center
Gopher Sports Postgraduate Internship Program
Habitat for Humanity
Hennepin County Sheriff's Office
Herb Brooks Foundation
International Student and Scholar Services (UMN ISSS)
Learning Abroad Center
Liberty Mutual Insurance
Minnesota United FC
Minnesota Vixen Women's Football
Minnesota State High School League Officials
Mutual of Omaha
North Star Resource Group
Optimize Social Media
Post Consumer Brands
REM Minnesota - The Mentor Network
Robert W. Baird
Ronald McDonald House Charities
Saint Paul Fire Department
The Schwan Food Company
SciTechsperience Internship Program
The Carlson School of Management Graduate Programs
Thomas Allen Incorporated
Travelers Insurance Companies
United States Marine Corps
University of Minnesota Law School
University of Minnesota School of Nursing
White Bear Mitsubishi
WSB & Associates
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