American sprint canoeist Maggie Hogan would not have competed in the K1 200m and 500m events at Rio 2016 had it not been for the income generated by her day job. Here, she explains how advice from an expert career coach from The Adecco Group helped make her Olympic dream a reality, and how it could work for you too.

  • Expert career advice helped Maggie find the perfect work/sport balance
  • Part-time work could be vital in helping you achieve your sporting aspirations
  • Having a new focus can improve your performance, not impair it
  • Discover how to access your own tailored guidance through Athlete365’s mentoring scheme

The level of funding for canoe sprint has always varied. Some years, the national team have had race expenses covered and some years we had to pay to go to world championships out of our own pockets – meaning some summers would cost me upwards of USD 10,000. In 2016 I had to fund the Olympic qualifiers for myself and my coach. Without a regular salary, I wouldn’t have been able to make it to Rio because the financial burden would have been too much.

Helping hand
I have a degree in biopsychology and I used to work full-time in the lab for pharmaceutical companies. When I first started training in canoe sprint, I was working 40-hour weeks and still getting three or four workouts in per day. I ran myself into the ground pretty quickly, so I negotiated a part-time position, working 20 hours every week. I continued to work in pharmaceuticals until it became clear that I needed to travel more and more for races and training. I needed work that was more flexible because of my travel schedule. I left my job in pharmaceuticals and started substitute teaching and tutoring high school kids in maths and science.

When I started having trouble finding enough teaching work, I reached out for extra resources. Adecco have a partnership with the US Olympic Committee’s Athlete Career and Education Programme, and they put me in touch with Angel Bovee, one of their career coaches. My year was divided between California, Florida and Oklahoma for training and then I was mostly in Europe for racing. I explained my situation to Angel, and then she called me back with the offer of a flexible, remote position with a rail logistics company called GE Transportation.

Trains and training created the perfect balance
I started working about 20 hours each week for the company’s wreck repair team, helping to coordinate the repair of locomotives all over the world. Usually I’d have one or two training sessions in the morning, starting at 7:30. I’d then work for GE between 11am and 3pm, before going back to the boathouse for two more training sessions at 3:30pm. I would then tap back into work in the evenings or on weekends to make sure I’m on top of things. The best part was that when I travelled to races, I would bring work with me. Earning a pay cheque while on the road can make travelling for races and training much less stressful.

I’ve always raced my best when I’m pursuing something else in my life outside of sport. I think balance allows us to grow as people and not get too focused just on sport. It has also given me the confidence to pursue my sport as an independent athlete, which had a huge impact on successfully qualifying for Rio. No matter what happens with funding or other things out of my control, I am ready to succeed.

Want to receive bespoke advice about a dual career like Maggie did? Athlete365 are offering you the opportunity to participate in a tailored mentoring opportunity with one of 30 career experts from The Adecco Group. Click here to find out more.