NEWARK, Del. -- University of Delaware athletes filled the Bob Carpenter Center on Tuesday night, but they didn’t have on their Delaware uniforms. Instead, more than 300 athletes were dressed to impress in business professional attire and had resumes in hand for the Fall Athlete Networking Night. 

This annual event drew roughly 100 representatives from over 40 different employer organizations who were eager to connect and network with Blue Hen athletes.

Julie Gonsalves, who represented Piper Companies, said she was thoroughly impressed with the preparation of the student athletes. 

"My colleague and I were extremely impressed with the number of students who had done their research prior to coming to the event. Many students told us that we were on their list of companies to speak to, which I found extremely impressive,” she said. “Many times students lack that prior research, which then creates a very surfaced level conversation, but this wasn’t the case with the UD athletes. I was also impressed with the engagement of some of the younger students, as they were able to hold great conversations even if they weren’t entirely sure of their future career path."

Much of that preparation and professionalism was due to the athletes’ interactions with Christine Motta, a 2000 and 2006 alumna and former UD women’s basketball captain, assistant coach and athletics administrator who now oversees the Career Services for Athletes program and organized the event. 

“This is one of my favorite nights of the entire academic year,” said Motta. “This is all about helping our athletes along in the career development process and exposing them to valuable opportunities such as tonight. It is a fruitful night for our athletes who are looking for internships, full time jobs, and shadowing opportunities, but it is also just as valuable and educational for our freshmen and sophomore athletes to observe what an event like this is all about … to get out there and network and connect with alumni, employers, and partners of the University of Delaware who actively want to recruit our Blue Hens." 

It was a very productive evening for Ariel Shonk, a volleyball player and senior marketing and operations management major. “I am very excited about getting two interviews out of this event tonight, as well as many other potential follow ups. The employers were so enthusiastic about our roles as athletes on campus,” she said. “Each year this event has helped me prepare for the next steps in my job search. Since I have been attending this event since my freshman year, I felt well prepared and confident when approaching and introducing myself to different companies and recruiters."

Many of the athletes’ coaches also attended the event to see their athletes shine on a platform other than the playing field. Associate head coach of men’s lacrosse, Byron Collins, was tweeting pictures and updates about the event throughout the night: “ Great night for @DelawareMLAX players on #AthleteNetworkingNight. Special thank you to @KorenMotta & Udcareers.”

“We are so proud to have our athletes as ambassadors of UD representing our University in competition, and there are always such high expectations of them. But we must also support them as they also have unique needs and barriers to attending campuswide events due to practice, meetings, classes, travel and games,” said Motta. "It is because of the strategic planning and offerings of targeted services like these that our athletes can invest in themselves, market their transferable skills and gain exposure to what opportunities may be out there.”

Story originally appeared on UDaily