By Ben Feder, Cal Athletic Communications
BERKELEY - Heading into his senior year, John Sheperdson has solidified himself as one of the most durable long snappers in the Pac-12, having started the last 25 consecutive games for the Golden Bears. However, in preparation for his final year in blue and gold, Sheperdson had a full plate this summer with more than football on his to-do list.
Sheperdson participated in an internship with BEAR Data Solutions, a technology solutions firm located in San Francisco.
“I helped out with a lot of data input,” Sheperdson said. “I would use Salesforce, do a lot of data entry and find contact information for the sales reps.”
During the late spring, Sheperdson heard about the company and thought it would be a great fit. He told Cal Football Director of Career Development Ron Coccimiglio that he wanted to find some work that would offer him good experience.
Coccimiglio offers valuable life skills to players as well as helps transition them into the workplace for life after graduation. One of his main responsibilities also includes networking with Cal alumni.
“Former Cal players create the network,” Coccimiglio said. “It’s our ex-players that want to help. We have so many guys; opportunities for our players are endless. In the service industry, we have them in the professional skill side, running companies, running banks. It’s terrific to see, and there are so many guys willing to reach out. The best part is that they’re not just helping somebody, they’re developing them.”
Throughout the summer, Sheperdson had an ongoing project that consisted of a huge list of potential clients. He had to find the contact information, the Chief Technology Officer’s number, the address and the website of the prospects.
From the crack of dawn into the early evening, Sheperdson was either working out at Kabam Field at California Memorial Stadium or helping out at the office. Days began at 6 a.m. when Sheperdson would participate in a team workout. From there, it was straight to San Francisco to get to the office by 9 a.m. At around 3 p.m., he would make his way back to Strawberry Canyon to get some snaps in.
Although they were busy days, the connections he made and the experience he gained made it all worthwhile.
Don James Jr., the Chief Executive Officer of BEAR Data, played football and rugby at Cal and was inducted into the Cal Athletic Hall of Fame in 2010. He founded the company in 2004 and has been able to staff Golden Bear student-athletes along the way, including former football players Brad Thompson (1989-92) and Cliff Roberts (2000-03).
“As a true Bear, Don doesn’t want to just provide an opportunity, he wants to challenge them and make sure they’re prepared,” Coccimiglio said.
James Jr. understands the small number of NCAA student-athletes that make it to the professional level and encourages them to get involved with internships to get a better idea of what it’s going to be like in the real world after college.
Sheperdson has an interest in technology sales, but he’s not sure if he is ready to hang up his spikes after 2014.
“I really learned how the business world works,” Sheperdson said. “I’ll give it a shot at the next level and see how that goes, but the internship really helped me get a feel for what it would be like if I don’t make it to the next level.”
Regardless of the path he takes, Sheperdson’s summer internship will leave him better suited for the future.