Is Hands-On Experience Better Than School?

 In Athlete Culture

If you’re an athlete thinking of venturing into the business world and have some down time during the off-season, what’s the best way to spend your time to ensure you’re prepared to succeed in business? Should you go to school or get a job? Here is an extremely insightful and valuable article to help you make that decision. Written by Pierre Collura who is an Olympian turned successful entrepreneur now providing his wisdom to other athletes thinking of taking the entrepreneurial leap.


It’s not easy. School or real hands-on experience? That’s a big question for an athlete because you are dealing with the dilemma on how do you use your downtime? And, what is going to help you the most to find success and fulfillment beyond sports?

After my entrepreneurial journey and knowing what I know today, I’d opt for real hands-on experience as much as possible. The problem with school is that you are developing general and theoretical knowledge about a broad range of topics. But, when you want to solve a problem and bring results in a real work situation, you need a very specific and practical set of skills and knowledge. In fact, there is a chance that most of what you’ve learned in school can be completely useless in that case. So, what does this mean for you as an athlete?

When you are transitioning from sports to business, you are moving towards a very specific role in a business organization – whether it will be CEO of your own business, salesperson, marketing manager or whatever. So, you need to focus your learning, practice and experiences as much as you can towards developing those specific skills and knowledge that will allow you to be good at your job.

And, the best way to do that is through hands-on experience because, when you are in the center of the action, all your practice is very focused so you won’t get distracted and spend time learning things that are not really useful for your job. But, the benefits of hands on experience don’t end here. Read on.

You learn from people that have real experience

One of the best aspects of getting hands-on experience is that you can interact and learn from people that have more experience compared to you. It’s kind of like when we were young athletes and were studying the tapes of the great ones in our sports, or even sometimes we got the chance of training with them. When you get into the trenches, you really see how things are done and how the pros are doing it. This will drastically cut your learning curve. But, there’s more.

You start building up your professional network and a track record

People know you as the athlete and that’s great for the sport environment. But, on the professional front, there is little or no information about your capabilities. So, when you get real hands-on experiences you can start demonstrating to everyone you encounter – whether they’ll be co-workers, superiors, vendors, or clients – your ability to deliver in a professional business environment. This will build a track record, relationships and a personal brand so that in the future you can get access to great opportunities.

So, here is the bottom line. Hands-on work experience can give you an edge in the transition from sports to the world of business. School is great at giving you a set of broad and general knowledge. But, whenever you can, focus your efforts on getting as much hands-on experience as possible and remember to work to learn, not to earn.

If you have any questions don’t hesitate to reach out to me via Linkedin or IG. And, if you want some mentoring or help to grow your business, join the FREE growth planning workshop for athletes. Now, go out there, start grinding and bring some results home!

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