Professional Athletes on their Way to B-School

At Dartmouth Tuck, star athletes and veterans are offered a business education.

Lashinda Demus, a former Olympian who wasn’t able to compete at the 2012 Olympic games due to an injury was very disappointed. It got even worse when she couldn’t participate in the next international sports event. She thought her career came to an end. But there was a plan B for her: she decided to enroll into a business school to become an entrepreneur.

According to The Financial Times, Dartmouth Tuck invited her to participate in a course dedicated to changing your career to business. It was created specifically for ex-military and ex-Olympians.

For Lashinda Demus, it was a perfect opportunity. The course turned out to be so successful that she already is founding her startup – an application for fitness.

Why the Course Was Created

The existence of such a course is not surprising, if you really think about what former Olympians do after retirement. Surely it’s not that easy to go from star athlete to a nobody. That’s why the course was created: to help former professional athletes move on with their lives and acquire new skills that would allow them to start over.

Still, athletes were not the first people who were invited to participate in this course. On Veterans’ Day, Punam Keller, the creator of the course, had an idea about starting a new program for former military personnel who retired and had trouble with finding new jobs.

People who served in the military are one of the groups that have to be retrained to rejoin society, and their training is always backed by the government. Still, no government-approved course was 100% helpful for military veterans. So Punam Keller decided to start a program that would help these people find a new purpose in life.

Another group she approached were former Olympic athletes who struck her as being quite close to military personnel in that they also have problems with returning to ‘normal’ life after their career is over. She was right: when the course started and all students, Olympian and military alike, started their studies, they quickly became friends. Punam saw how they played sports together after classes.

Why It Is a Better Opportunity

The program – called ‘Next Step’ – starts every day with breakfast at 7:30, then several hours of classes (business strategy, entrepreneurship, marketing), then personal coaching on how to write a resume. Then, the participants have dinner together (often, speakers from partner companies come to visit and give a talk to the students).

Another benefit of the course is its inexpensiveness. It costs only $500 per person, due to a generous donation provided by two Tuck business school alumni who were amateur sportsmen and also served in the military. For former soldiers and athletes both, money is usually an issue, so a business course at such a low price is quite welcome.

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