Playing sports from an early age influences and shapes your life in ways you couldn’t even imagine - any professional athlete can confirm this to you. Even though COBE isn’t a sports agency, a lot of our colleagues have an enviable career in sports too. If you’re curious about how their sports lives affected their careers today and what qualities they developed through years of training, keep reading.
Let me introduce you to the magic 10.
1. Dolores, QA Engineer — Handball and football
2. Ines, Managing Director — Handball
3. Ivan, QA Engineer — Athletics and football
4. Saša, iOS Developer — Handball
5. Luka, Android Developer — Football
6. Mladen, CTO — Football
7. Nikolina, Lead QA Engineer — Basketball
8. Tomislav, Lead Web developer - Football
9. Josipa, Lead Product Owner - Handball
10. Milan, Project Manager - Football
A lot of these people have more than 15 years of sports experience - do you know what that many years of training does to a person? Other than getting you into amazing shape, duh. It teaches you discipline, hard work, communication. That’s why hiring an athlete, a current or former one, should never be neglected. Having zero work experience in your CV due to spending all your free time in practice is not the same as choosing not to work.
Why is it so important to be an athlete in the tech industry, you might ask. I mean, the kind of sprints we run here don’t even require running shoes. All jokes aside, this is not related to the industry you work in — whether you’re a salesperson or a developer, the skills you gain during your athlete days will always have value.
Let’s go back to the 10 people we mentioned above who played sports for a big part of their lives. I know that ten is maybe not a huge number, but it’s still big enough to recognize similar qualities these people provide:
Just like the captain of a basketball team knows what’s best for his team, a former captain, now in a completely different field of work, can still recognize if something’s wrong with their team. At COBE, that’s Nikolina - basketball player for 18 years, today leading a Quality assurance team in an IT agency. She knows exactly what and how her team is doing and what issues they’re dealing with — at any time. That’s what 18 years in basketball does to a person. It also gives you certain bellicosity to fight for others and to provide other teammates with bigger things - better benefits, job positions, salaries.
When you’re a professional athlete, you don’t get a lot of time for mistakes. Your average week includes practice two times a day, every day. And the thing is, you can’t miss out or be late. Ines, our Managing director, never missed her handball practice, even when she was sick or had a test to study for (don’t worry, she finished school in time).
That’s why it doesn’t surprise me that she's never late for a meeting, and she shows up for the team even when she doesn’t have to.
What do you think, why is being a team player almost always a requirement in a job ad? Well, can you imagine someone not wanting to communicate with the team they’re working with? Not wanting to help out when there’s an important situation? Us neither. Luka, our Android developer, has this perfect team player quality and knows exactly what it takes to be a part of a team and how to distribute goals and roles — a thing he learned playing football for 15 years. He’s 26 now and retired from football, but still going strong in mobile development.
I’m sure you’ve seen a professional runner once or twice in your life, at least on TV. If you’ve ever seen one practicing, you must’ve noticed how they, after completing one lap of the track, always hype themselves into running another one. That’s the equivalent of giving your 110% into a project. I know people at our agency that will, if a sprint lasts 10, always try to end it in 9 days. One of those people is our Product owner Josipa. She’s always going above and beyond for our clients and our team.
Trusting your teammate during a game is so important — imagine running on the football field, not knowing who you can pass the ball to. But trust isn’t just that, it comes in all forms and shapes. Trusting someone means being there for your team, even when you feel like you can’t. Everyone has those days when they’re physically or mentally just not present, but somehow manage to work. So if you see someone struggling, show that you are there for them. Help them. Talk to them.
Another thing playing sports teaches you is respect. Respecting your coach, your teammates, and time. When you’re preparing for a competition, there isn’t a lot of time to waste, so being on time is a must. And even though nobody mentions it in job ads, being on time is a big plus when hiring too. How you treat someone, whether it’s during a game, or in the workplace, tells so much about you as a person. And learning how to be respectful from an early age helps with maintaining that behavior throughout your life.
Every once in a while, someone new joins the team, and let’s be honest, it takes a while for them to fit in. The important thing is to accept them, encourage, and acknowledge that some people take more time than others in overcoming issues and figuring things out.
Now, what do you think how do athletes develop all these skills and qualities, especially at such a young age?
Well, some of you might have had strict parents, but imagine having a coach that watches your every move, criticizes you, and gives you instructions on a daily basis. Does it annoy you at times? Sure, but you know you both want what's best for you. This is what helps you grow thicker skin and build character.
Eventually, you start seeing criticism as a way of improving yourself. Nobody’s yelling at you because they want you to quit — they’re raising their voice because they see potential and they want you to grow. Now, this is how you learn to deal with pressure my friend.
Furthermore, training teaches you how to deal with injustice. Just like game scores can be set up and nothing you do can change the results, clients could easily reject you just because you don’t speak german, for instance - even when you’re the best candidate for their project out there.
You're left with two options then — you either allow it to break your spirit, or say f*** it, it’s their loss. Pro tip; always choose the second option.
Please don’t get us wrong, we’re not trying to bash employees that don’t have an athlete background — especially not at COBE. Culture and sharing values is a really big thing for us, so the qualities mentioned above apply to almost every person in the agency, whether they're into sports, or not.
But the focus of this article is to emphasize what athletes can offer, other than work experience. Although you might not consider training to be a job, for some of them this felt like a real job, and their coach was like a boss to them.
I mean, if they showed loyalty to their club for 15+ years, who’s to say they won’t do the same for your agency?
And if you’re a former athlete, who randomly ended up looking for a tip in this article, here’s one; mention your sports background when you’re applying for a job. Let your future employer know how much time and effort you have spent in practice and show them you’re a hard worker. It will pay off.
*This article was originally published in May 2019 and updated in June 2021 for accuracy.