Held annually every February, the University of Kentucky’s Student-Athlete Development department orchestrates a comprehensive career and internship fair, called the “Career Combine,” tailored specifically for its student-athletes. The most recent event, held on February 5, 2024, took place at Kroger Field and hosted a variety of potential employers.
Year after year, this event earns eager anticipation from Wildcat athletes, as it opens valuable doors to career networking, graduate school, job shadowing, internships, and full-time employment opportunities. Balancing academics and athletics through their years at UK, these busy student-athletes often find it challenging to seek employment during college. However, at the Career Combine, they have the unique opportunity to begin exploring possibilities and cultivating crucial relationships for their post-graduation journey. This year, the Combine hosted 50 employers from a range of industries, with over 150 student-athletes in attendance. Noteworthy corporations attending included Target, Central Bank, Coca-Cola, Enterprise, and Cintas. The Combine also hosts representatives from UK graduate schools and other UK resources, including the UK Colleges of Dentistry, Nursing, Health Sciences, Communication, and Education, as well as the International Student & Scholar Services offices and the Center for Graduate and Professional Diversity Initiatives office.
The Student-Athlete Development department encourages Wildcat athletes to make the most of this incredible opportunity, as the University of Kentucky works to foster meaningful connections and maintain relationships with diverse employers and companies nationwide. The array of industries and graduate school opportunities represented at the Combine, ranging from healthcare to public administration and sales, ensures every athlete can formulate their plans after graduation.
Additionally, at each Combine, employer representatives are invited to nominate student-athletes as “impact players,” or individuals who have left a notable impression during conversation. At the 2024 Combine, a total of 16 athletes were recognized as stand-out impact players. Among them, Emmie Sellers garnered praise from a representative, who described her as “bold, courageous, and confident asking a question,” and expressed a strong desire for her to apply to their company.
Another notable impact player, Josh Kattus, drew recognition for his assertiveness and keen interest in the company’s operations. A representative remarked, “[Josh] was assertive and very curious about what we do. [He] has a bright future in whatever he does.” This sentiment notes the valuable impression made by Josh, suggesting promising opportunities ahead.
The Career Combine not only facilitates networking avenues for Wildcat athletes but also serves as a platform for them to showcase their personal skills while representing both their respective sports and the University of Kentucky. Mackenzie Wilson, a standout UK Gymnast, left a lasting impression described as a “10.0,” a nod to her gymnastics background. Employers noted her polite demeanor and active engagement, expressing confidence in her ability to “continue to do great things” and acknowledging that “she clearly loves representing UK Gymnastics.”