If I were to give unsolicited advice to college kids looking to break into a professional field, I would be adamant that no matter how much book learnin’ they do, there is no substitute for real-world, hands-on experience as well as network-building.

This is especially true when it comes to journalism.

Sure, athletes have a leg up on most college kids. After all, they have name-recognition and have proven their ability to compete on the highest levels, under the most intense scrutiny. However, the world is littered with athletes who, post-career, are at a professional disadvantage than most people their age – “retired” at the ripe old age of 35 with a limited skill set.

So, it’s nice when a few take the time to broaden their horizons. While it certainly helps their current marketability, those that are smart will use it to make connections and learn and refine a skill or two within the respective industry they undertake.

With most teams’ NFL seasons finished, here’s a pair venturing beyond the gridiron:

IMG_8629A (1)Buffalo Bill Brad Smith will be interning with Men’s Health Fashion Department during NY Fashion Week 2013. He will be contributing to their NY Fashion Week coverage for menshealth.com.

While Smith is parlaying his athletic notoriety into the fashion world, Detroit Lion Justin Durant is looking to make a natural transition to the entertainment world. The linebacker will be serving as a regional reporter for MTV at the Super Bowl and then beginning an internship with Week in Jams (formerly Suckerfree Countdown).