South Carolina’s Beyond Sports Professional Development and Summer Internship Program offered its student-athletes a pair of unique opportunities recently. The student-athletes visited Nephron Pharmaceuticals in West Columbia last week, and on Monday, they met with professional image consultant Will Baggett, a highly regarded speaker and author who most recently worked with IMG College in Atlanta as Coordinator of Strategic Brand Management.
“Will talks to millennials a lot about how to hone their executive image and how to sell themselves in today’s work place,” Senior Associate Athletics Director Chris Rogers said of Baggett. “He’s an up and coming speaker who is not far removed from college. So it’s a great touch point for our student-athletes.”
Earlier this summer the group visited the SEC Network and also met with personnel from the Carolina Panthers in Charlotte. The purpose of the visit to Nephron Pharmaceuticals was to expose the student-athletes to a professional environment outside of the athletics arena.
“A lot of our student-athletes know what happens inside an athletics department, and earlier in the Beyond Sports program, we gave them the ability to go and see sports related industries,” Rogers said. “This was an opportunity for a lot of them to see a more corporate setting that they may not have been exposed to previously in their academic careers.”
Nephron C.E.O. and president, Lou Kennedy, who is a 1984 South Carolina graduate, led the tour, provided a question and answer session, and gave details about how she built the business.
“It really opened my eyes to what I can do in the future, even if it’s out of my major,” said rising senior football student-athlete Javion Duncan. “I really enjoyed the concept that you don’t have to have been in one major to be successful in something different.”
I want them to make positive first impressions because those will last.Will Baggett, professional image consultant
“It was really interesting to see how you can still use your sports background in a job outside of sports,” said rising senior track and field student-athlete Amy Suttmeier. “You can use you competitiveness. [Kennedy] talked a lot about how she is successful because she is more competitive than a lot of other people. It’s cool to see you can still use your skills you learned from sports to have a successful job that’s not in sports.”
On Monday, Will Baggett met with the student-athletes in the Beyond Sports program at the Dodie Academic Enrichment Center to talk about how they can build their own personal brand.
“He was excellent in presenting a lot of different things about presenting personal brand and the tools we can use to improve ourselves,” said Sarah Taylor, a rising senior on the cross country and track and field teams. “I find body language so interesting because it really is a tool that isn’t always emphasized in terms of developing your personal brand.”
“Ultimately, I hope the student-athletes were able to take away practical strategies to make themselves more effective as young professionals and as people,” Baggett said. “I really want them to have these skills in their repertoire so they can put them into effect when they need them. I want them to make positive first impressions because those will last.”
Among the many topics he covered, Baggett stressed the importance of the “A,B,Cs” – appearance, behavior, and communication. He also stressed the need to use social media in a way that lifts the individual’s professional profile and personal brand with a consistent message.
Beyond Sports is a professional development and summer internship program for South Carolina student-athletes that includes interviews, educational professional development programming, group projects, and paid internship experiences funded by the Gamecock Club. There are also unpaid internships with Beyond Sports community partners. One of the main goals is to provide student-athletes with a meaningful professional development and work experience, while also helping them to be better prepared for professional life after college.