Utah State volleyball player Alyssa Everett recently joined roughly 300 other student-athletes in attendance at the 2012 NCAA National Career in Sports Forum in Indianapolis, Ind.

Everett, a senior middle blocker for the Aggies, wrote about her experience at the prestigious event:

The NCAA Career in Sports Forum was an amazing opportunity and a great experience. I learned so much about the inner workings of collegiate athletics and what is involved in the various positions, jobs and opportunities. There were two main themes or tracks during the conference, administration and coaching.

We had several panels of current administrators and coaches from Divisions I, II and III come and talk to us about their jobs and daily routines and how to get involved in athletics and work towards getting hired for full-time positions related to collegiate sports. In addition to the panels, there was a session where we were able to meet with others in our specific track and sport and discuss the details of going into this specific career. I found this part to be very helpful in answering my questions about different programs of the various coaches.

The majority of our time was spent with our color teams. There were eight color teams with 35 to 40 student-athletes in each. The teams were led by volunteer facilitators from all over the country who were working in their own respective athletic offices and positions. In these sessions, we had many discussions on values and their importance in our careers, various behavior types and how to deal with them, and our strengths and areas of improvement to name a few. The facilitators provided us with ideas and ways to help us make career paths and resolve conflicts and problems with those around us.

There were three very important topics discussed during the conference and they repeatedly came up in discussion: personal and professional conduct, social media and networking. Ms. DeNita Turner, the president and CEO of Image Builder, came and spoke to us about the importance of our image and how others perceive us. Our name is our brand and now we are responsible for selling our brand. She emphasized the importance of first impressions and the need to be professional in all our dealings because you never know who or where you will meet people that could potentially be important in your career.

The second topic was networking. Ms. Turner stressed that the opportunity to network is all around you. There were approximately 300 student-athletes at the conference, so the chance of meeting everyone was highly unlikely, but the fact was still the same, that we needed to network. The majority of networking came from within our color teams and those we interacted closely with. The thought is that the more people you have in your network, the more people will work for you while you are not necessarily working and vice versa. Networking opportunities are all around us, who knows, a casual conversation could lead to your next job.

The third topic was the issue of social media. This issue has increasingly become a problem and is seen more and more in the athletic world. They made this point very clear when the director read several status updates from student-athletes at the conference which had inappropriate and vulgar language. They pushed the need for us to be educated and use social media for our benefit, to promote our image in a positive light because anyone can access your information including future employers.

Overall, I thought attending this conference was a wonderful opportunity and very informative for anyone who is interested in pursuing a career in collegiate athletics. It is a great way to get a head start in a very competitive business. I would highly encourage others from our school and conference to try and attend this forum in the future.

Everett and the USU volleyball team open the 2012 season with the Blue-White Scrimmage on Tuesday, Aug. 21 at 7 p.m. The Aggies will officially kick off the season by hosting the Utah State Invitational, sponsored by Gossner Foods, on Aug. 24-25, welcoming in-state foes Utah, Southern Utah and Weber State, along with Portland.

Utah State volleyball tickets are available by contacting the USU Ticket Office at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum or by phone by calling 1-888-USTATE-1 or (435) 797-0305.

Fans can follow the Aggie volleyball program at twitter.com/USUVolleyball or on facebook at facebook.com/USUVolleyball. Aggie fans can also follow the Utah State athletic program at twitter.com/USUAthletics or on facebook at facebook.com/USUAthletics.

Doug Hoffman is the assistant athletic director for Utah State University Athletic Media Relations.