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How Reggie Smith II Utilized the NFLPA Externship Program to Break Into the Corporate World

As a defensive back, Reggie Smith II was accustomed to the pressures of his duties in the secondary on the football field, including executing a game plan for the jerseys he was squaring up against. Today, the jerseys he plans for are for the ones being shipped out to millions of fans across the world as an Operations Supervisor at Fanatics.

BACK TO SCHOOL

Following a three-year playing career with the 49ers, Panthers and Raiders, Smith faced uncertainty heading into life after football.

“When I was first released, I wasn’t sure what I was going to do next,” Smith said. “I thought I would try and stay in shape and hope there would be other opportunities. I started to get connected with The Trust to figure out how I could finish my degree, since I had come out of college early and hadn’t graduated.”

I thought I would try and stay in shape and hope there would be other opportunities.

Smith utilized The Trust Scholarship Award Benefit to finish his last year of school remotely at the University of Oklahoma. While finishing his degree, Smith worked with AthLife, The Trust’s career partner, to assist with putting him in the best position to succeed in the business world.

“They helped me with a lot. I really had no idea, and I probably should’ve paid better attention while I was playing,” Smith said. “{AthLife’s} transition coach helped me with getting my resume and things in order to position me to get a job, or at least have my resume seen by people who could actually pull the trigger and give me an opportunity.”

{AthLife’s} transition coach helped me with getting my resume and things in order to position me to get a job.

GETTING THE RIGHT EXPERIENCE

His transition coach at AthLife pointed him to the NFLPA Externship Program, where he was accepted and placed with Fanatics, a premier online sportswear, equipment and merchandise retailer. During the three-week externship Smith was exposed to different aspects of the business, giving him a well-rounded experience that also allowed him to make valuable connections within the company.

Following the Externship Program, Smith finished his final semester at Oklahoma University before receiving a call to interview for a full-time role with Fanatics. He and another teammate from the Externship were hired at the Jacksonville, FL headquarters. Smith had officially transitioned in to the corporate world as an Operations Supervisor.

A NEW ROLE ON A NEW TEAM

With a new job in hand, the first months at Fanatics were a stark contrast from his days on the football field.

“The first three months were tough, because I wasn’t used to doing the things I was asked to do,” Smith said. “Football is business, but this is at the opposite end of the field. I was drawing up stuff in Excel, looking at graphs, crunching numbers. Things I had done in school, but not necessarily when I was in the league. Trying to transition from working out and studying a playbook to studying a whole different aspect of business, it took me a while to adjust. But I went with the flow and learned as much as I could.”

Trying to transition from working out and studying a playbook to studying a whole different aspect of business, it took me a while to adjust.

While the tasks may have seemed unfamiliar, the experience and skills he needed in football translated well into his new role.

“Team building is one of the big things we push at Fanatics, so, that team aspect is there, just in a different capacity,” Smith said. “Also, being able to take the pressure – especially during the holiday season – is like being in the league and having to deal with that same pressure each and every play. Getting a plan and executing, looking over the daily freight that we have coming in, and drawing up a plan to get the forecasted freight pushed out the door.”

Being able to take the pressure – especially during the holiday season – is like being in the league and having to deal with that same pressure each and every play.

With Smith's diligence, willingness to learn and utilization of the resources available to him, his roadmap is a great example for other players looking for work after football.

“Reggie provides a great example of what happens when preparation meets opportunity,” Jon Harris, Founder and President of Athlife, said. “His story demonstrates the importance of working with an AthLife advisor to identify needs for securing employment opportunities and working to fill those gaps. Doing so allows the Lifelete to make themselves the most competitive candidate possible in the marketplace.”

READY TO GET A NEW GAMEPLAN AND A NEW JOB?

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