Changing Fields: From the Football Field to the Field of Recruiting

“Pro right, 50,” says my quarterback. “Okay, my alignment is one step left of the quarterback and one step behind,” I say to myself. “Okay, the defensive ends body positioning is telling me he might…”

“HIKE!” Now it’s time to react! Side step right, left foot aims to the backside, ‘A gap.’ Right elbow up, left arm underneath: a nice pocket for the quarterback. Tuck and roll over the ball when the quarterback hands the ball off to me. Press the ball for as long as I can into the heels of our offensive line, trapping the defense to commit to a gap. My gap is taken away! Perfect! The defensive player who took away my first read came from the backside. He vacated his gap. Replace him. Jump cut right. Running down the field, slicing and slashing, dodging the opponents. Spin move! One defender stopping me from the end zone. I have three options; I can run around him left, I can run around him right, OR my personal favorite… I can run right through him; I like my chances! I make my choice… CRACK! My helmet goes underneath his helmet, I get leverage. I drive my feet and he falls! I’m still up! “Wilkins to the 15 yard line… Wilkins to the 10 yard line… Wilkins to the 5 yard line… TOUCHDOWN!!!”

My dream and goal ever since I can remember was to play on Sunday in the National Football League (NFL). But this was all taken away in the blink of an eye after I tore my knee – ACL, MCL and Meniscus for a third time. I knew there was no chance my body could withstand the demands of the NFL. I didn’t know what to do, my whole life had been football. Without football, what was left? I felt like I was restarting my life from scratch with absolutely no direction. Most people realize their interests through school and classes, but my education had just been a sail to guide my football career. I wish I could say there was some drastic turning point, one moment of revelation where everything changed, but truthfully, it was a process. My first discovery came with time. I realized the world kept spinning after I finished football, that I didn’t crumble into tiny pieces without the glue of football holding me together. Tentatively, scared I might fall apart with too drastic of a step into any direction of life, I started my first adult job in recruiting. At the time, I knew relatively little about recruiting. All I knew was that it involved talking to people, which was something I always enjoyed.

It was at this time my second discovery occurred; I needed to have the same drive I had on the field, in the office. I was completely out of my element and honestly, scared. Recruiting was as effortless as breathing to everyone around me and I felt like no matter what I did, there was no way I could make it in this career. This outlook changed, however, when I started viewing the situation in terms of football. When I was running the ball, the unexpected on the field in front of me wasn’t an obstacle or impossibility, it was an opportunity. It was an opportunity to find a gap, to speed ahead. I realized then that this job, being new and unknown to me, was just the same- an opportunity. Now off the field and in the office, I was yet again faced with an opportunity to thrive and to speed ahead.

With this new outlook, I started to work as hard as I possibly could. I applied all of my drive and dedication on the field to recruiting. I stayed up nights learning everything I could find about finance, I read forums on recruiting, I asked advice from everyone in the office; I was determined to speed ahead. This is when I reached my third and most impactful discovery- my dream had changed.  In applying all of the traits I thought were football-specific to recruiting, I realized that my dream was never rooted in football- it was rooted in embodying the traits football gave to me. Now, all I can think about is being the best recruiter there is. It encompasses every single part of my day. I can’t imagine pursuing a career other than recruiting. Because recruiting is able to capitalize on the traits I strive to employ, I find a passion in it that is even deeper than that found on the field.

This process from football to recruiting was not an easy or a quick one, rather it was filled with steps and reflection. Discovery after discovery, recruiting became my new dream as it currently enables me to be who I want to be in life. Recruiting is a perfect platform for me to seek opportunities, show dedication and drive, and have passion. I once thought my dream was football, but I learned my dream actually is to be able to actively use all of the traits I learned from football. Personally, I believe there is no other career that showcases these traits better than recruiting. I never anticipated my life turning in this direction, that I would be so passionate about recruiting, but looking back on my journey- it makes perfect sense. I am so grateful to football for teaching me these traits, but I am more than ready to employ them in my new dream- banking and financial recruiting. Wish me luck.

John Wilkins

John is an Associate Recruiter for Strategic Accounts – Banking and Financial Services based out of our NYC HQ. Looking for new  opportunities in the NYC area? Reach out to John! 

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