Leaving school and beginning a career is often a challenging transition. This is especially true when you are entering a high-stress field such as NCAA Compliance. As someone who is now one year removed from graduating law school and beginning a full-time career, I understand the challenges of getting started in this field. The first year or two in the field is tough as it takes time to adjust to full-time work while also adapting to an ever-changing industry. However, there are some steps you can take to help make the transition more manageable.
A TRUSTING MENTOR
The most important step you can take upon entering compliance, or any field in college athletics for that matter, is to find a mentor. It is important you find someone who is established and can show you the ropes. Ideally, find someone who can provide you with information and knowledge about the field. NCAA Compliance is full of helpful people; do not hesitate to reach out to fellow compliance professionals through e-mail. Most of the people you reach out to will be more than happy to help you learn the industry. While most of our work is confined to black letter law, it is still important to have someone who can help you through the gray areas or how to best assist a coach.
A mentor can also help you meet new people in the field. Athletics as a whole, compliance included, is a very small field, thus networking is a huge part of finding work.
STAY AHEAD OF THE GAME
Within compliance itself, it is important to keep up with new NCAA and university legislation and understand the changes occurring. Even if news or new legislation does not deal with a bylaw you frequently work in, it is important to understand the entire spectrum of compliance areas. Each area is related, and furthermore, as you move up in the field, you will need a broader knowledge.
Just about everything happening in college athletics will affect compliance.
For example, the current debate over gambling could have far-reaching effects in the compliance world. Compliance departments throughout the country are already trying to plan on how to best monitor student-athletes to ensure the NCAA gambling rules are followed as gambling will soon become legal in many states.
IT’S WHAT YOU DO, NOT WHO YOU ARE
Last, but certainly not least, is finding work-life balance. Working in NCAA compliance can be a stressful job, especially in your first year as you try to make your way in the field by continuously learning all you can to do the best job possible. This is a field in which calls in the evenings and on weekends are a regular occurrence; it is not a nine to five workday. As such, burn out is a risk, so it is important to schedule some time for yourself and your family on the weekends or plan a vacation.
If you work 24/7, you are not only hurting yourself, but you are also hurting the coaches, the student-athletes, and the university itself. Part of bringing you’re A-game to work each day is ensuring that you are able to do your best and provide the necessary assistance and guidance necessary to ensure proper procedures are followed.
While your first year working in compliance can be difficult, if you are able to find a mentor, keep on top of the changing NCAA compliance and college athletics environment, and find work-life balance, you will find that working in the field can be very rewarding.