Since competing for USA at the Olympic Games Beijing 2008, Christina has twice come out of retirement, during which time she and partner Bill May became world champions.
Christina is working through her career transition with her mentor Kari Lemiere, who is a Director of Marketing Strategy, Brand Storytelling & Partnerships at Intel.
You can sign up for the Intel Mentoring Program today and receive expert advice and support to help with your career progression.
Being an athlete, you put everything into your sport. Everything. As an artistic swimmer, we would train eight to 10 hours a day, six days a week. That could be eight hours in the water, along with a couple of hours on land cross training, rehearsing the routines and spending time with a sports psychologist. It’s really involved.
When I finished my sporting career, I had a moment where I thought: “What now?” It was a strange feeling. Every moment of our lives as athletes is structured until the Closing Ceremony of the Games, and then the amazing ride we’ve been on comes to an end.
Luckily, I had the opportunity to join the casting crew of “O”, the water-themed production by Cirque du Soleil at the Bellagio in Las Vegas. But while I’ve been fortunate to make a career out of my sport, every athlete and every performer knows this career can’t last forever. When COVID-19 hit and the show was shut down, I found myself in a position where I didn’t know what was coming next. There was so much uncertainty, and I really wanted an opportunity to explore where I belong in the business world. Through a former team-mate, I heard about the Intel Mentoring Program and I signed up.
My mentor Kari and I connect every two weeks, sometimes once a month, and there’s a really open dialogue between us. We talk about everything. I’m a new mum and she’s a mum, and we talk a lot about maintaining a healthy work-life balance, and how to catapult yourself into the business world while being a mother. She’s really allowed me to see that it’s possible to be both an amazing mother and businesswoman.
Kari has also really helped me network. Right from the beginning, she introduced me to a bunch of people who work at Intel, and they each then introduced me to two or three more people. I’ve had the chance to meet people from different parts of Intel, learning what goes into their day and getting a sense of where I might like to fit in the future.
My mentor Kari and I connect every two weeks, sometimes once a month, and there’s a really open dialogue between us. We talk about everything. I’m a new mum and she’s a mum, and we talk a lot about maintaining a healthy work-life balance, and how to catapult yourself into the business world while being a mother.
For us to dedicate ourselves to the Olympic Movement and know that we will still be supported after we’ve retired with programmes such as this is really important.
When I came into this mentorship programme, I didn’t know anything. I had my college degree, my Cirque du Soleil and athletic career, and experience in journalism and media, but I didn’t have much to go on in the business world. Through this programme I’ve been learning about different job positions and what the role is. Reading a job description can seem overwhelming, but I’ve been able to ask people what they really do in their role, what they enjoy, what they wish they could change. To have that opportunity to pick other peoples’ brains has been amazing.
I wish something like this had been around for my team back in 2008, but it’s great that it’s here now to support active and retired athletes. It’s important to address the fact that Olympic athletes have so many skills transferrable to the workplace. While we may not have the years of experience on a résumé that other people our age may have, we know what it takes to work hard in a team; we’re dedicated; we’re adaptable; we’re willing to learn; we’re willing to admit when we’re wrong; we’re willing to get up, dust it off and try again. For Intel to take a chance on us is invaluable.
A supportive network
We give our souls to our sport. We put every single drop of blood, sweat, tears and energy into training for the Olympic Games. We’re ambassadors on and off the field, or in my case, in and out of the pool. We never take off the Olympic badge and we’re constantly talking to younger children to promote the ideals of Olympism. For us to dedicate ourselves to the Olympic Movement and know that we will still be supported after we’ve retired with programmes such as this is really important.
It’s such an amazing opportunity for you to be able to tap into this invaluable network, and those within Intel are so supportive, kind and understanding. At the end of your athletic career, it may feel like a jump coming from sport into the business world, but the Intel Mentoring Program is perfect in helping you to manage your transition.