Entering the work force: The tough transition from life as an athlete

Sam Roworth, a former international-level athlete, chronicles the trials and tribulations of his hunt for an entry-level sales position in Canada. College graduates are struggling to find suitable full-time work.

Part One

Twenty-six years old. Educated. Unemployed. At risk of becoming a statistic.

It’s not who I am, it’s where I’m at.

In the fall of 2016, I retired from life as a high-performance athlete, having spent 14 years training and racing internationally as a sprint kayaker. Coming up just short of qualifying for the Rio Summer Olympics, not wanting to commit to another four-year training cycle and ready to move onto another pursuit – I hung up my paddle and began job hunting.

I have spent my lifetime training to compete – even having a World Cup medal to my name – but that doesn’t seem to translate onto my resume. I’ve worn the Maple Leaf on my chest and stood on podiums amongst the best in the world. I know a few things about working hard and digging deep.

It took 14 years to reach my goal of racing for Team Canada. Long training weeks – on the water and in the gym. In Canada, Hungary, the United States, Spain – wherever the world’s best were training, I was chasing them down, pushing myself to constantly improve. It took six years to complete business school at Ryerson University, while working concurrently toward my Olympic dream and my degree. I added a 20-hour work week, taking on retail jobs and coaching to supplement the expenses of my training.

I have learned much about persistence and pursuit, but didn’t foresee it would be so hard to parlay my education and life experience into the start of a career.

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