If you've ever listened to David Shaw speak, you've heard him talk about how Stanford University (never just Stanford) is different, and they use what makes it different to their advantage. Example 1: the summer. While most programs use the summer to build or repair their players' academic profiles, that isn't a problem at Stanford. So the Cardinal put their players to work.
Stanford employs 70-to-80 players a summer through its 12th Man Summer Jobs Program, whose backbone is director of football operations Matt Doyle.
“We’ve taken something that might be perceived outside of this community as a disadvantage, and turned it into an advantage,” Doyle told the Stanford Daily. “We want our guys working. We want their résumés built up to a point that, when they graduate, they’ve got as good of a résumé as any college graduate in the country.”
Stanford, being what and where it is, isn't sending these guys to Foot Locker. No, we're talking about Silicon Valley, private equity, law, start ups, biomechanical engineering firms. The type of internships you'd expect the typical cream-of-the-crop Stanford student to take.
To make it work, Doyle goes well beyond the duties of the job. To help make up for lost time over the fall hiring season, Doyle meets with players to learn what field interests them, builds resumes, cover letters and interview skills and then works the Stanford network to find the best spot for each guy. Sounds like a guy deserving of some sort of national honor. Which, of course, he is.
“Coach [David Shaw] has often said, ‘Get everything you can out of Stanford. Wring it dry,’” Doyle said. “‘Be a sponge. Take advantage of what the campus offers, what your colleagues offer, what your fellow students offer, what the Stanford name offers.’”
For a real-life example of wringing Stanford dry, take Jordan Williamson. If that name rings a bell for you, it's because you learned in the worst possible way. The Cardinal's kicker, Williamson missed a would-be game winning field goal in the last play of regulation in the 2012 Fiesta Bowl, then missed another field goal to open overtime in Stanford's 41-38 overtime loss to Oklahoma State. One of the people watching that night and impressed by how Williamson handled the unwanted spotlight was Cisco CEO John Chambers.
“[He] wanted to kind of meet up and talk about my situation…and tell me how business is really, actually, pretty similar to sports,” Williamson told the Stanford Daily. “There’s ups and downs in both realms, and it’s just how you bounce back and how you learn from your failures, and come back and be stronger. And so he told me about some of the challenges that he faced both at Cisco and growing up, and we just kind of talked about how the two overlapped.”
Williamson has now spent his past two summers waking up early to participate in Stanford's 6:30 a.m. workouts, then trekking to Cisco's San Jose headquarters to work as a sales and marketing intern.