Fifth-year seniors Shane Savage and Nick Tandy are making the most of their Cornell experiences. Spending almost all of their time together, the two best friends are not only teammates, classmates and roommates, but most recently they have become business partners — developing a small start-up with their fellow student-athletes in mind.
Savage and Tandy have created an online network — dubbed “The League of Extraordinary Athletes” — for Cornell’s student-athletes to connect and learn career preparation skills that will help them after their time is done on the Hill. According to Savage, he and Tandy have always been the go-tos on the football team for resume help and advice — especially after joining a group called Management Leadership for Tomorrow. However, the players admit that they weren’t experts from the start.
“My resumes were terrible,” he said. “Nick laughed at my first cover letter, but his was even worse. We’re now like professionals trying to help everyone, but we definitely went through our phase of learning the process the wrong way.”
According to Tandy, the idea for the League resulted not only from helping other players on the team develop their resumes, but after he developed a marking plan for CALS Student Services for one of his classes. He said he wanted to find a way to incorporate student-athletes into the equation.
Helping student-athletes learn how to network and develop the skills necessary for starting a career after college are not new ideas for members of the football team, according to Savage.
“With the old coaching staff [before head coach Kent Austin took over,] there was a program that we did in the spring over a weekend,” he said. “All these alumni came back and did mini-career prep just for the football team.”
Building off that idea, Savage and Tandy brainstormed ways to expand the program so that other student-athletes could benefit from having alumni support when looking to take the next step — either to graduate school or into the professional workforce.
“There is a professional gap that athletes are faced with based on the amount of time that we can’t put towards our careers because we are trying to balance our academics and ... getting on the field to play our sports,” Savage said.
One of the biggest problems that athletes struggle with is not having enough information or experience to put on their resumes, Savage explained. According to Tandy, research has shown that student-athletes do not match up to their non-athlete peers when it comes to internship or work experience. So, the pair decided to develop the League as a means of helping their teammates to not only develop the skills necessary to succeed in business, but also to locate possible internship opportunities.
“The League of Extraordinary Athletes is a career preparation program exclusively for student athletes at Cornell,” Tandy said. “The mission is to educate them and guide them through preparation and helping them increase the number of internships they get after they get their degree.”
There are many services that Cornell offers to help students, such as resume building or learning how to give an elevator pitch, but locating them can sometimes be difficult for athletes, according to Tandy. So, the League is working to make it easier for athletes to access the available services.
“Cornell already has so many resources because it is such a big school,” Tandy said. “What [the League is] doing is taking them and making them available to the athletes. [The services are] there, they just aren’t organized.”
The website for the League will allow athletes to log in, create profiles tailored to their interests and connect with alumni and companies looking to recruit young talent.“We’ve been working with a lot of companies that recently have started fall recruiting to tailor their recruiting events for the athletes,” Savage said.
Now other student-athletes on campus are joining the two seniors to get the League moving forward. As the duo grew the League, they created a League Council of representatives from all of the sports teams. Together the members are working to organize and plan career preparation and networking events.
“Through the League Council, we have at least one representative from each team at Cornell, men's and women's, who can spread the word from our meetings to their teams,” said senior Max Martinez, a member of the football team, as well as the Director of Marketing for the League. “Their job is to communicate with their teams and get them to sign up and check out the site. Without the League Council, nothing would be possible.”
Senior Meagan Berry, the representative from the women’s rowing team, wanted to get involved as soon as she found out about the group.
“[The League of Extraordinary Athletes is] going to be a great opportunity for the athletic community at Cornell to come together and make sure our teammates will be successful in their time after Cornell,” she said. “There's nothing like being on a varsity team, but we do miss out on career building workshops and company information sessions. Now student-athletes will be able to develop their careers while competing, instead of having to choose one or the other.”
Savage and Tandy hope to have the League website up and running for athletes to use in the upcoming weeks, as almost two years of planning and hard work is coming to life.