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A Day in the Life: Transitioned Athlete, Josh Calderon.




Josh Calderon is a former pro soccer player who appeared for Puerto Rico and for a number of clubs in Colombia.

 

A versatile and talented athlete, Josh returned to school after leaving elite soccer to obtain a degree in Finance from the Iona University in the US.

 

Partnering with Athlete Career Transition, he became a Territory Business Manager at healthcare multinational, Haleon in 2022, and is thriving in his second career post-sport.

 

“A year and a half after making the transition to where I am now, I couldn’t be happier,” Josh says.

 

“I've found immense fulfilment in my own journey, and it underscores the value of visualization and anticipation of positive change,” he adds.

 

In the first of ACT’s “A Day in the Life” series, Josh discusses his pathway as a professional soccer player, his career transition, and explains how ACT helped him to successfully navigate the switch from sport into the corporate world.


Could you outline your career as a pro soccer player?

I’ve played soccer my entire life. Around age 16 or 17 I gained international experience appearing for Puerto Rico and went to Cuba, playing in the FIFA friendlies, Nations Cup games and World Cup qualifiers for the Caribbean. Despite an opportunity to sign with a second division team in Colombia, which has since gone into the first division, I chose to go to college.

 

I dedicated four years playing Division One college soccer, balancing academics with athletics as a student athlete. However, collegiate soccer isn't as intense as the professional game, as it only involves three months of competitive play annually.

 

Before college, I attended boarding school, where I played for one of the nation's top teams. Growing up in Connecticut, I frequently travelled to New York for middle and high school soccer. I opted for a college close to home in Westchester where I currently work; I learned to drive on those same roads, supported by my family's dedication to the sport.

 

After college, equipped with a finance degree, I reconnected with the Puerto Rican national team. Although I aspired to secure a professional contract, Puerto Rico had more focus on nurturing its national team, so instead of immediate club contracts, players dedicated eight-month stints to national team development.

 

I travelled a lot, exploring opportunities across so many countries while representing Puerto Rico internationally. One notable experience was with a Colombian second division team, where I made it through three rounds of try-outs to train alongside top-tier players from a first division club. Despite offers, I prioritised experience over immediate contracts, aiming for top-tier competitions.

 

This led me to two first division clubs in Colombia, where I worked towards obtaining Colombian citizenship to expand my opportunities. Despite setbacks, including COVID-related disruptions to potential contracts in England and New Zealand, I accumulated three years of professional soccer experience across a number of competitions.

 

Ultimately, feeling fulfilled with my national team contributions and pursuit of top-tier contracts, I looked at transitioning out of professional soccer. That led me to get in touch with Steve and Andy at Athlete Career Transition.


How did your experiences as an athlete prepare you for your post-sport career?

Being a student athlete truly prepared me for the transition process to professional work environments. When you’re up at that elite level, you’re definitely involved in higher thresholds of stress, accountability and performance.

 

After retiring, I reconnected with my educational roots, both in high school and college, and so the switch felt seamless. Having already pushed my limits and competing at a high level while traveling extensively, I felt even more prepared for the transition. My lifestyle had accustomed me to constant change, so returning and settling down felt exciting.

 

I believe the intensity of my experiences has been instrumental in my ability to transition effectively. This readiness to tackle challenges head-on has translated into strong performance, particularly in my first year with Haleon. I’ve been able to leverage my diverse skills, and this has improved my overall performance when interacting with other agents and marketing myself. It’s made me more dynamic and adaptable.

 

Navigating through tasks such as tech work, data management, presentations, and interactions with dental professionals requires versatility and agility. I’m able to connect with dentists and various offices confidently, while also managing a broad range of operations throughout the day. Remaining personable and adaptable allows me to handle whatever challenges the day presents.


Could you describe a day in the life of an athlete going through their career transition?


I believe it's crucial for athletes to be cognizant of their preparation and to understand their needs, particularly when transitioning into other endeavours. Establishing a solid morning routine – like starting with a workout – sets the tone for the day ahead. It’s about owning that regimented approach you had during athletics and applying it to your lifestyle during your transition.

 

This disciplined mindset, ingrained from years of athletic training, helps optimize performance in my current role. My morning routine involves rising early, seeing the sunrise, making a cup of coffee, and getting a workout session in. By prioritizing my personal needs first thing in the morning, I ensure that I can perform to my best in my job. Preparing for the day ahead involves anticipating tasks and commitments, a habit honed during my athletic career.

 

Translating the discipline of sports into business involves meticulous planning and prioritization. Identifying the key objectives for the day, such as which offices to visit and what presentations to deliver, ensures a focused and productive approach. This proactive preparation instils confidence and ease as I engage with clients and stakeholders throughout the day.

 

Drawing upon the resilience cultivated in athletics, I push myself to go the extra mile. Moreover, embracing the athlete's mindset of trusting the process and staying committed to excellence allows me to take on each day with conviction and confidence.


What three pieces of advice would you give to current athletes in terms of how they can best prepare for a career transition?

Firstly, I believe it's crucial for individuals to take a deep look into their desires and aspirations in life, as well as the specifics of the job they're considering. While it's challenging to fully grasp the reality of a job from its description alone, conducting thorough research and seeking insights from others can help ensure readiness.

 

Secondly, upon reaching the decision to transition, it's essential to pause and acknowledge your accomplishments and successes throughout your career. Give yourself a pat on the shoulder and reflect on past experiences, particularly those reminiscent of the challenges and triumphs faced as an athlete. This can reaffirm the significance of this transition and provide motivation moving forward.

 

Lastly, visualizing the post-transition scenario is key. Envisioning the potential outcomes, such as increased security, proximity to your significant other, living closer to home, or heightened personal fulfilment – these can offer clarity and confidence in the decision-making process.

 

Personally, a year and a half after making the transition to where I am now, I couldn’t be happier. I've found immense fulfilment in my own journey, and it underscores the value of such visualization and anticipation of positive change.

How did ACT help you in your career transition?

I think, first and foremost, it's been great to continue to work with people who know what your experiences are like, and then being able to be a part of this group of Olympic athletes. As such, it’s been fantastic to be part of the ACT this community.

 

To end my career as an athlete, and then continue being associated with other great athletes is something that really validates what you’re going through. It’s huge to be surrounded by other high-calibre people who know the path you’ve trodden.

 

Andy and Steve really guided me; they made sure the job I was going for was the right fit and ensured I was truly ready for the role, giving me additional resources to help me prepare.

 

It’s been about receiving that overall support from individuals who have been on the same journey – that’s the really important aspect. I’ve been made to feel part of the ACT family and been offered high-level opportunities at different multinational organisations. I’ve found just what I was looking for.

 

Athlete Career Transition works alongside global organisations to successfully transition professional former athletes across all disciplines into the corporate domain.

 

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