How Resilience, Transferable Skills, and a Super Bowl Career Fair Launched Trey Watts’ Career in Talent Acquisition
When Trey Watts drove over 1,400 miles from Tulsa, Oklahoma, to Miami, Florida in 2020, he was accompanied by a rental car and his resume – with sights set on the NFL Player Care Foundation’s 2nd Annual Super Bowl Career Fair. Previously a running back for the St. Louis Rams with a talent for all-purpose yards, Watts was now on the journey to find his own purpose.
But Watts’ journey up until this drive to Miami had been a challenge.
“I went through it. I went through a lot,” says Watts. “The transition into the workforce and finding the next opportunity, was harder than making an NFL team.”
The year 2020 marked four-years since Watts last played in the NFL. Despite his challenges, Watts was instilled with a rare level of resilience. As a former walk-on at the University of Tulsa and an undrafted free agent for the St. Louis Rams (now Los Angeles Rams), his resume proved one thing: when given a chance, he maximized his opportunities.
Watts speaking with an Uber representative at the career fair
Fast forward to 2023, three years since the career fair, and Watts undoubtedly maximized his opportunity, finding himself as a Senior University Recruiter for one of the world’s most notable brands: Uber.
“The opportunity saved my life,” says Watts. “At the time, I didn’t have much money, any mentors and I was bouncing around jobs. So, I found the most cost-effective way to get to Miami and just trusted God that something would happen.”
Something did happen. And when the former running back walked into the career fair – he realized that he had been in this situation before during NFL training camp.
“At training camp, I’d always ask myself ‘How do I stand out and make this coach know my name?’” says Watts. “I used that same mindset for the career fair, including preparation and ensuring my resume was in a great spot.”
Just like training camp with the Rams and his walk-on tryouts at Tulsa, Watts succeeded. This time, leaving a lasting impression on Uber. The organization saw something in Watts, as he didn’t have any idea that he wanted to be in talent acquisition (TA), what TA was, or what type of roles were out there prior to the fair.
“The career fair was great because you don’t know what’s out there until you see it,” adds Watts. “It also made me realize that there are so many careers out there that we (NFL Legends) can thrive in.”
Watts is right. The proof is in his responsibilities at Uber where he’s responsible for hiring software engineers, intern classes and more, assisting them with navigating job offers and onboarding while working internally with stakeholders and externally with students.
TRANSFERABLE SKILLS | NFL EXPERIENCE TO TALENT ACQUISITION
“What I enjoy most about TA is that it’s about helping people, like helping someone navigate their first job or internship,” says the former running back. “They could be relocating to a new city, which I feel like I can relate to because of my experience moving to St. Louis for the Rams after being signed.”
In addition to relatability, the abilities to outwork and function well on a team are also notable skills translatable to a role in TA. Coachability, the ability to learn quickly and preparation, according to Watts, too, can be parlayed into a career in recruiting or TA.
“When it comes to preparation – we (NFL Legends) know how to do that.” Watts says.
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“From not knowing what to do, the loss of identity, and the massive change,” says Watts, “the transition into the workforce is challenging because we spent so much time doing one thing.”
He concluded, “Don’t be afraid to take that first step and take advantage of opportunities –because we (NFL Legends) have so many opportunities at our disposal.”