Four VT student-athletes gain real-world business experience during break


For most college student-athletes, winter break is a time to relax, go home and be with family and friends. Not, however, not for four Virginia Tech student-athletes.

Emily Connor (track and field/pole vault), Meredith Slaw (softball/infield), Sarah Spicer (golf) and Carrington Kirby (track and field/throws) each spent a week of their winter break at Quicken Loans headquarters in Detroit.
Employers such as Quicken Loans understand the time crunch student-athletes have when it comes to gaining career experience. By creating the Student-Athlete Externship Winter Session (“Winternship” according to alums), Quicken Loans “supports student-athletes with their transition into the workplace.”

For Connor, who is a freshman undecided business major, “deciding to participate in the Quicken Loans Winternship was probably one of the best decisions I could have made regarding my career.” In all, 30 student-athletes from around the country participated in the program.
During the Winternship, student-athletes immersed themselves in the culture of the Quicken Loans family of companies and Detroit. They worked on customized projects, attended professional development workshops, networked with senior leadership and volunteered in the community. They received an opportunity to shadow an area of the business in which they were interested and connect with a mentor “all in an effort to build connections, answer questions and gain advice.”
According to Spicer, the best part of the week was the opportunity to shadow professionals in the exact area in which she wants to pursue a career.
“Everyone I worked with was extremely gracious in taking the time to show me what their job entailed, and it demonstrated to me what skills I need to develop to get where I want to go,” she said. “After having the chance to see it first-hand, I ended the week feeling much more confident in the career path I am pursuing.”
DJ Bridges, a university relations manager with Quicken Loans, noted that the Virginia Tech student-athletes were “top students in the entire group” and that they “quickly acclimated” to the new setting and meeting new people.
At the conclusion of the one-week Winternship, each of the student-athletes received offers of full-time internships for this summer. Kirby plans to take advantage of that opportunity.
“I was amazed to see how much Detroit is growing and proud to say that I will be a part of that change and innovation within Quicken Loans this upcoming summer,” he said.
“The Winternship was an incredible experience, and I recommend it to any Virginia Tech student-athlete interested in the business world,” Slaw said.
Virginia Tech student-athletes interested in learning more about the Quicken Loans Winternship, or ways to gain career experience can stop by the Lombardi Student-Athlete Development Center located at Lane Stadium.

–written by Sarah Lage, Associate Director of Student-Athlete Career Development