“I Have Grown”: A Case Study of Student-Athlete Career Development at Clemson University


  • Kelly Coffin Clemson University
  • Sarah Stokowski Clemson University
  • Amanda L. Paule-Koba Bowling Green State University
  • Michael Godfrey Clemson University




case study, career development, mentorship, programmin, student-athletes, internship


Student-athletes are burdened with demands, expectations, and stressors that pose challenges to their personal development, rendering many student-athletes ill-prepared for career choices outside the sports milieu. Internships are vital to the skill development for all students. Clemson’s University Professional Internship and Co-op Program (UPIC) offers on-campus internship opportunities for qualifying students. Informed by student involvement theory (Astin, 1984), the purpose of this case study was to examine Clemson student-athlete’s perceptions of participating in the UPIC program. Although the student-athletes experienced challenges during their internships, the data revealed that the internship was instrumental in the professional development of the participants, specifically in the areas of communication, collaboration, and work ethic. Overall, 88.89% of student-athletes felt their internship was very relevant to their career goals. This case study provides an example of cross-campus collaborative programming that assisted in the career development of student-athletes and should be implemented at other colleges and universities.

Author Biographies

Kelly Coffin, Clemson University

Kelly Coffin, MS, is the UPIC Program Coordinator in the Center for Career and Professional Development at Clemson University.


Sarah Stokowski, Clemson University

Sarah Stokowski, PhD, is an assistant professor in the Department of Educational and Organizational Leadership Development at Clemson University. She studies college athlete development, specializing in the personal development literacies.

Amanda L. Paule-Koba, Bowling Green State University

Amanda L. Paule-Koba, PhD, is a professor in the sport management program at Bowling Green State University. Her research interests include issues in intercollegiate sport, Title IX and gender equity, academic clustering, and recruiting in college athletics.




Michael Godfrey, Clemson University

Dr. Michael Godfrey is a Senior Lecturer in the Athletic Leadership Program at Clemson University.


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