Stanford Cardinal Football: Internship Program the Secret to Success

By Jeff Hauser
Kyle Terada/USA Today
Kyle Terada/USA Today

The summer season for a college football player is a time for family, rest, offseason conditioning and concentration for the upcoming season. This wasn’t the plan for some of the Stanford Cardinal football players. About 70 of the players took part in the “12th Man Summer Jobs Program,” which placed student athletes into internships with the help of employers.

The Cardinal players took jobs in the Silicon Valley area of California, with career fields in hospitality, medical research, computer technology, public works, venture capitalism, practicing law, banking and insurance. With the internships being located near the campus in Palo Alto, most of the players participated in voluntary offseason workouts in along with their summer work. This was very effective for the football program with the players getting paid  along with being accessible for offseason conditioning drills. When asked about the offseason internships, senior WR Jordan Pratt said, “Everybody’s doing some pretty cool things. And everybody’s pretty busy.”

The internship program isn’t something new at Stanford, it has gone quietly for the past couple decades and recently became more structured and utilized by the student athletes. Stanford’s director of football operations Matt Doyle oversees the program by helping players develop interview skills, write resumes and place players with employers. In order to comply with NCAA rules, all the players in the program must get paid equally. The work has to be verified by an independent representative from the NCAA to be compliant and ensure the players aren’t getting paid for their status with the football team.

A direct involvement strategy with employers was the method behind the new structure for the internship program, which was set in place by former head coach Jim Harbaugh and adopted by the new staff of David Shaw. The cardinal players have developed business skills beneficial for life on and off the football by managing time within their schedules. The players are given the opportunity to build business relationships that wouldn’t be obtainable without the help of Stanford’s staff.

“It’s just a lot easier when you have a middle man kind of sticking up for you and communicating to companies how much time football consumes,” Pratt said.

The Development of the program has been essential for Stanford and a contributing reason why the school has won two-straight Pac-12 Football championships while having a 100-percent graduation rate. Stanford will take that same work ethic and try to contribute it towards the potential of a third-consecutive Pac-12 football Championship.

Jeff Hauser is a contributing writer for and a member of the Football Writers Association of America. Follow him on Twitter @radiohauser.

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