Tag Archives: UNCC

2019 YP LeaderCon

 

On August 2, 2019 I had the pleasure of attending the second annual YP LeaderCon held by the Charlotte Regional Business Alliance. The event was at the beautiful UNCC City Center and brought together emerging leaders from around the Charlotte region. By attending this event I was given an opportunity to learn and grow, hearing from speakers and other professionals in their 20s and 30s while validating the steps I am taking in beginning my professional career and helping to grow my personal brand.

 

The sessions I attended included a range of topics including networking, financial planning, the power of professional organizations, and the importance of mentorship in personal and professional situations. Across these sessions a common theme continually arose which was the power of taking ownership of your actions and directing the course of your life.

 

Beginning a career is certainly challenging requiring an individual to balance paying off debt including student loans, becoming acclimated with the culture of your new job, navigating the job market, and deciding which professional organizations to join and prioritize which events to attend. Sometimes the most important thing to do during the initial years of your career is to establish the skills that will drive your entire career while also understanding what attributes you value. We can become so accustomed to saying yes that saying no to things that do not provide value to our lives should be where we focus our main energy.  Having an understanding of the things we truly value will help prioritize decision making and reduce time spent on unnecessary actions.

 

During the event, a topic that was highlighted across sessions is the importance of seeking help from others.  The session led by Lisa Medley explored the value and importance of seeking out resources through mentorship, sponsorship and coaching. Many people understand the importance of mentorship from the professional sense yet the aspirational, personal, and family should be used to create buckets of different mentors to become a better person across all aspects of your life. This is an area I will look to improve on by seeking additional mentors and using the people around me as resources. By gaining skills and relationships from mentors I will be able to learn from them while also providing them new skills as I continue to form strong relationships through mentorships and as I progress in my career further mentoring others with the information I learn.

 

I value the time and the opportunities I had during the YP LeaderCon and the importance the Charlotte Regional Alliance places on growing young talent in the entire metropolitan region. Seeing professionals beginning their careers I could see the dynamics of the modern workforce as I gathered with young professionals who worked for startups, Fortune 500 companies, and regional firms with a strong presence in Charlotte. One of the top reasons I am proud to call the Charlotte area home is the commitment to fostering business relationships and improve the entire community. The hints of Southern charm that are spread across the shining city of Charlotte shows the power of the New South. The sessions were filled with young people from across the country who have moved to Charlotte because of its robust job market and abundance of recreational activities. This trend should continue as more people and companies are attracted to the region and top talent is retained to ensure sustainable growth across the entire Charlotte region into the future.

Student Athlete tackles MBA Program by Evan Shirreffs

Beginning A New Challenge

It was the spring of my final year at the University of Miami. With graduation looming as a bittersweet moment only a few months away, I was left with two options: start my career in the real world or pursue an MBA with my last two years of eligibility in football. While both choices fostered great upsides, I chose to pursue my MBA as it became apparent that football was too large a part of my life to let go of. Thus, I began my search for the ideal university to meet my needs.

I struck gold when I came across the campus of UNC Charlotte, a school that I knew little about despite being only three hours from home back in Georgia. A quick drive up I-85 told me all that I needed to know; I had found my new home in this not too big, not too small city.

Situated in the Queen City, UNC Charlotte and its subsequent location proved to have everything I was looking for. An up and coming football team with all of the potential to become a nationally-known program, a flexible MBA program that paired well with the demanding hours of football, and a lively Uptown area filled with endless possibilities for young professionals looking to succeed in business.

 

Starting Anew

After committing to Charlotte, questions began to build surrounding my upcoming experience as an MBA student. What would it be like to start all over again in a new city? Would the classes be as taxing as undergrad? What would my classmates be like? As the questions swirled, so did my own answers in the form of expectations. To ease my tensions, I told myself it was just some more school; it would be the same as high school and undergrad. Although I was somewhat right, most of my expectations were far from reality.

As time passed in the MBA program, I realized how it differed from undergrad studies. Classes actually encompassed learning and growing instead of memorization and repetition. I began to soak up information from not just my professors, but other students in my classes. All of my classes were filled with people older than me by 5, 10, and sometimes 20 years. As intimidating as this seemed at first, it could not have been any better for my development.

Despite my lack of traditional professional experience, I was lucky enough to hear the real-life experience of all of my classmates who already had years of experience in various fields: engineering, entrepreneurship, music, healthcare, you name it. Everyone seemed to have a unique story and everyone seemed to think differently. Mixers, guest speaker, and other MBA events soon became regular parts of my schedule to meet people and build friendships.

 

Becoming Situated

Comfort came in accepting the different perspectives of my peers. They enjoyed my young optimism; I enjoyed their experienced pessimism. I was often able to learn what not to do without having to experience some of the rock-bottom stories shared by my peers.

Do not get me wrong, moving to a new place and essentially starting over is one of the hardest things to go through in life, but luckily, I have been able to realize the magnitude of the impact this move has had on my future. As I thought the new school and city could not get any better, an unexpected cherry was placed on top of an already promising experience.

 

Seeing the World

Throughout undergrad, I had dreamed of studying abroad, but with football occupying my time and energy, this merely remained a dream. Charlotte turned this into a reality when I got a random email about a trip to Europe during winter break. It was a two-week seminar course in Lyon, France during the only time of the year that I had off from football. It truly put into perspective the great opportunity I had seized in packing up from a promising future in Miami to move to an up and coming program at Charlotte. The Queen City has proved to have everything I was searching for in a school, football team, social life, business opportunity, and unexpected fruition of my dreams.

Cost Benefit of Being a Student Athlete

The Cost/Benefit of Being a Student Athlete by Evan Shirreffs

Picture walking out of your dorm room at 5am on a Friday morning with a jug of water in one hand and a granola bar in the other. With sleep still in your eyes you’re wondering, “what will the workout be like today? Intense conditioning or a grueling squat day?”

Then, as you reach the door to the parking lot, you encounter a few students stumbling around, standing in their outfits from the evening before. One of them lost their student ID at some point during the night in between shots of liquor and their failed attempt at chasing after that one cute girl from Calculus class. Lucky for them, here you come to the rescue before they pass out in the bushes.

During my first few weeks on campus as a football player at the University of Miami, this moment put into perspective what the following few years would encompass.

Sooner or later, every student-athlete has experienced a similar moment that made them realize the depths of dedication it takes to play a sport in college. To say it is a job is honestly an understatement. Do not even get me started with compensation, but the pure will it even takes to commit to such a rigorous lifestyle is much more demanding than any job could ever be, and that’s coupled with much less reward.

What job is so physically taxing that by the end of an early morning lift session, you need to take a nap before most of your colleagues are even awake? What job gives you twice as much “optional” work as mandatory work, yet expects all of it to still get done despite the repeated statements that, “school comes before football?” If this was truly the case, then why would my only free time to study be after hours in the library with the thought of that early morning practice distracting my efforts to learn the importance of a balance sheet, or developing a business model for a business world that I have only heard of in theory and not yet experienced?

Learning class material was never the issue for me. It’s a bit easier to go into an exam with a general concept of what will be on it, and BS an answer that will satisfy your professor. If you BS your preparation for football however, you will be exposed by your opponent. And he will let you know about it before you even get to the sideline to get ripped by your coaches and teammates as well. As a quarterback, I need to know everything that all the other ten guys on the field are doing. The amount of focus it takes to go through hours of daily practice, meetings, and film is something that is quite difficult to understand until you must do it. No other position is like that; few positions in business are like that either.

Yet with all the challenges involved, the cool thing about committing to something like this lifestyle is the absence of regret, and the feeling of satisfaction that comes from doing everything in your power to succeed, even if the venture results in failure. In a society so focused on perfection, it is hard to see the value in failure. Football has taught me that success is never possible without failure.

I have lost battles for starting jobs, had coaches that did not believe in my style of play, I missed games because of injuries, not performed when my number was called, but none of that is what defines me. Failure not only showed me that I was not as badass as I thought by beating me down during some of the toughest moments of my life, but it gave me the opportunity to overcome obstacles during those times that makes success so much sweeter.

Failure gives you the chance to learn how to respond when things are not going your way. It humbles you when you most need it. This has been the single most impactful lesson learned from football. When you accept that the outcome you are working so hard for may not be attainable, you learn to fall in love with the grind and process of even giving yourself the opportunity to reach the result you are striving for.

As I sit behind my computer screen gathering my thoughts on my final collegiate football season to come, and my eventual “transfer” into the real world of business, I cannot help but smile at the opportunities ahead. I have no idea what the future holds, but I know that nothing I face in life will be as hard as the days of being a student-athlete. I understand that there is so much to still be learned, but there is no doubt in my mind that I will be successful in whatever career path I take. In all honesty, I just fear not finding that one thing in the real world that I am as passionate about as football. But I know that when I find it, I will make a difference in this world.

-Evan Shirreffs