Vanguard softball networking

Building a network on the softball field

I have been playing sports since I could walk. Growing up I was heavily involved in tournament, club, and school softball, and I played college-level field hockey. My athleticism defined me. When I began my full time job working in a cubicle, I found the transition to be pretty difficult. Sure, I would go to the gym in the morning or evening, but I missed organized sports. Enter the Vanguard recreational softball league—a league that consisted of at least 16 different teams, all composed of Vanguard crew members.

The captain organizing the team in my department was admiring this year’s players and their skillsets—noting that they were going to have a great season. This was my chance to become involved with organized sports again! I joined the team and made the starting line-up as the first baseman. Little did I know that playing in the Vanguard softball league and building relationships with my teammates would prepare me for playing in the big leagues at work too.

Vanguard softball networking

As I’ve progressed in my career at Vanguard, I’ve seen how the friendships I made on the softball field have progressed as well. I joined the team while part of the Fund Financial Services department, where my role focused on pricing the individual stocks and bonds held in Vanguard mutual funds. I knew there were many directions in which my career could go, but I had no idea where to start. I didn’t know many people outside of my department, and I wasn’t sure if I should go back to school for further education. It was through my softball team that I learned about the many opportunities that existed at Vanguard. It might sound nerdy, but at team happy hours after the softball games, I picked the brains of my teammates. There was the Institutional Relationship Manager that played the outfield, the Investment Analyst that played short stop, the Fixed Income Trader that pitched, the list goes on. And to my surprise, they actually enjoyed talking about their roles outside of work!

Vanguard softball networking

The networking that resulted from the softball team extends far beyond the softball field. As the years went on I got to know people from all across Vanguard, and I met with them over coffee or lunch. It was with the guidance of these crew members, teammates, and friends that I landed a job in my dream department doing investment research, and decided to work towards attaining the Chartered Financial Analyst designation (I’m 2/3 of the way there!). Now, as new crew members join the softball team, they ask me about my job. They ask me to grab coffee or lunch with them to provide career guidance.

After six years on the team, I can say quite a few things about what the experience has done for me. It’s helped me transition from an active athletic lifestyle to a healthy work/life balance. It’s made me realize that the confidence I have on the softball field can carry through to the work that I do in the office. And just like in softball—or any sport for that matter—hard work and dedication will pay off over time. The same thing can be said when it comes to your role and career.

Vanguard softball networking

I’ve realized how to take the lessons that I’ve learned over the past few years and impart wisdom on newer crew members. I value the importance of a network, and learned that building a network doesn’t just happen in the office. Lastly, I proved to myself that I’ve still got it when it comes to organized sports! How do I know that? We’ve won the softball league championship every year since I’ve joined the team ;).

-Jenna M.

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