While most high school football players dream to make it to the pros, some would kill just to even just have an opportunity or scholarship to play in a well-known football powerhouse, let alone get a chance to be drafted in the NFL. However, Albert Rocker thought different and felt he was at the crossroads.
“I made up my mind when I started college that I was going to be a success in business, or go into the NFL,” Rocker says. For three years, he was an outside linebacker for the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets and had one final year to break into the NFL draft rankings.
Unlike other athlete’s who’ve barely made the grade just to make the football team, Rocker is a driven honor student who is majoring in business management and has continued to balance his football career along with his internships in the business world.
After much deliberation with family, Rocker chose to forego his last year of football eligibility and, ultimately, his NFL dreams to work as a technical account manager in Microsoft’s Irvine, Calif., office, helping customers stabilize the health of their IT infrastructure with Microsoft tools and resources.
“Your future’s not really secure in anything, but it’s a gamble as far as the NFL goes. Of course, when you’re 21 you’re eating it all up. You go out there every Saturday and win games and everybody tells you to go for the NFL. But what happens when it’s all over? I felt like I had to do what would be better for me in the long run, and even if I was drafted, I felt like Microsoft would be better for me.”
And what did Microsoft think about the student athlete’s pursuit to work at the software giant?
Microsoft recruiter Trish Lincoln was intrigued by Rocker’s resume.
“I always keep his resume in my office – it was really unique,” she says. “He had statistics about how his team’s record had improved with him as a leader, and how he’d worked with younger players, and his training. He’d put a lot of thought into how his football experience translated into the business world. It was a very convincing argument.”
Rocker has spent his first few months at Microsoft training and shadowing other technical account managers and will soon be getting his first clients.
“We’re ecstatic to have him,” Lincoln said. “He’s wonderful with people, and clients are going to be delighted to work with him. He’s creative, optimistic, and the kind of person who makes you think, ‘Wow, I can do anything.’”
Lincoln and others still marvel at how Rocker was able to distinguish himself both academically and as a player for a major college football team.
“It shows incredible balance,” Lincolns says. “He’s just so disciplined; it’s almost impossible to do both things well, not to mention at the level he did. Georgia Tech is an incredibly competitive school with some of the smartest people in the country. A 3.0 grade point average is considered honor role, and Albert was able to do that and play football.”
After his hiring, Rocker reflects:
“I love this company. I never thought I would work for the biggest software company ever created. I never thought I’d wear a suit to work. I never thought that at 22 I’d have a real job. I never thought I’d do any of this, but when you make up your mind to do something, you should be confident in what you can achieve and have faith in yourself.”
Even now, he’s still goes back to workout with the team after office hours. Wow.