While in college, my career aspirations ranged from physician, lawyer, teacher or swim coach. Likewise, my roommate was considering sales or marketing careers. Years later, it seems statistically impossible that both of us would own technology companies. While in school, neither one of us wanted to be in an IT field, and we both would have debated anyone labeling us as nerds. Yet, here we are in the ultimate nerd job – both running companies that sell computers. I decided to conduct a “scientific study” to see if this was really such a coincidence. My roommate and I were both college swimmers, and maybe our unique personalities are more drawn to technology than others. I embarked on trying to prove my hypothesis – collegiate level swimmers are nerds.
To prove my point, I did some massive searches of thousands of people on LinkedIn. I found all the people who have “NCAA Swimmer” in their profile, and calculated the percentage of those who are in Information Technology industries vs other industries. I then calculated the same percentages for other LinkedIn search terms – NCAA baseball, NCAA basketball, NCAA football, NCAA gymnastics, and NCAA Tennis. Obviously, this analysis is not 100% accurate, but it is as close as I could get to figuring out who on LinkedIn was a college athlete in a particular sport. And obviously there are numerous other technical careers, but I wanted to focus on information technology in particular – my industry. The results of my initial searches seem to support my hypothesis – of the six sports I searched, swimmers had the highest percentage of people in Information Technology fields. In fact, based on my limited research, swimmers are 3 times as likely to be in IT fields than baseball players, and twice as likely as gymnasts. Coincidence? I think swimmers may be smarter than other athletes – though I don’t have much evidence to support this theory. But smart people tend to gravitate to IT fields, so maybe this explains the higher percentage of swimmers in tech careers. I recall that in high school and then in college, my swim team had the highest GPA of any sport.
My former Furman University swim team is now absolutely loaded with high performing executives across a range of disciplines – many in technology fields. Maybe they are smarter than others, maybe harder-working, but the success of my former teammates is undeniable.
I asked our new marketing employee, Jessica Graber, recent graduate and 4-year scholarship swimmer at UGA. She said, “I can’t speak on behalf of other sports teams, but I know that my swim coach highly stressed the importance of exceeding not only in the pool, but in the classroom as well. We were Student-athletes, not Athlete-students.” Her team at UGA had one of the top GPA’s of all teams at Georgia all four years she attended. Are you a former swimmer, now in a technology field? If so, what do you think? Is my hypothesis true, or just coincidence?
Header Photo Courtesy of: Del May
Blog Photo Courtesy of: Tony Fischer