(Editor’s note: Today’s post kicks off a series of occasional posts that will chronicle how Sun Devils have used University Career Services and/or ASU Alumni Career Services to better their career. If you have an ASU-related career success story you’d like to share, email us and tell us about it!)
As is the case with many students in their first year of college, I really did not know what I wanted to be when I grew up when I got to ASU. I was just excited to be learning new information! I had a hard time picking exactly what I wanted to major in and was excited that ASU had rolled out its bachelor of interdisciplinary studies degree, which allowed me to pick and choose the classes I took in order to make me a well-rounded student. This was the perfect degree program for someone like me.
During one of my first B.I.S. courses we had a guest speaker from Career Services present to our class. During this presentation, the career service representative, Christine (Chris) Helms, invited us all to come on by her office, sit down, and have a discussion about the next chapter in our lives. I took her up on that offer, and went to Career Services later that week. I introduced myself to her and a couple other representatives and told them that I wanted to be a sports agent like Jerry Maguire. The Career Services staff explained that sports management was a very difficult industry to get into, but if I was willing to put in the work, they would help provide me with a road map on how to get there.
They gave me a tour of the office and all the publications that I was welcome to use. I was given some handouts that provided me with key terms, as well as examples of resumes and cover letters. After the initial meet-and-greet, we set up a series of appointments over the next couple of months.
My first assignment was to put together a resume. Using all the information I’d received in the Career Services office, I put together what I thought was a stellar resume. When I arrived at my first follow up appointment with Chris, I quickly found out that my resume was much too long for someone that would be new graduate. Chris took the time to explain to me the resume writing process and how I needed to select a format that I felt comfortable with.
The goal was to catch the eye of the hiring manager. We then went over my accomplishments that I had up to that point in my life. She went a step further to show me how I should be updating my resume as I accomplish more throughout my career. Once we had a resume that looked professional and touched on many of the main points that we felt would gain the attention of potential employers, Chris sat me down with three very large books that all contained addresses and contacts of people who worked in the sports world (the Internet of the “turn of the millennium” was not the Internet we know today). It took me a couple of weeks to compile a list of about 30 or so companies in which I had an interest.
When I returned with my list, Chris helped me draft some cover letters that I would send along with my resume to these organizations. Due to the fact I was still in my third year of school and had another year to go before graduation, we both felt it was better to focus on securing an internship during the summer with a sports agency. I sent out my cover letters and resume to every organization on my list.
I did not get one response back.
This setback did not deter me, because I knew it was going to be a rough road because the sports world was very competitive. Chris and the Career Services team continued to work with me to tweak my resume, and they even helped me learn how to network by introducing me to some employees with Sun Devil Athletics. I conducted multiple informational interviews within Sun Devil Athletics over the next couple months. During one of these sessions, I met Jean Boyd (who is now senior associate athletic director for student-athlete development), and he helped me secure a position as a student manager on the football team for the 2001 season. This is when I learned that networking is very important! You never know what will happen or what a conversation will lead to down the road.
Chris recommended that I always have a copy of my resume on hand just in case; you never know who you may run into. So I did that. During the summer I was playing pickup basketball and during a break between games I was chatting up a fellow player. It turns out that this fellow worked for a sports agency. He asked if I had a resume (which I did in my car) and he would give me a call to discuss internship possibilities. A week later I received a call from him, and I went through the interview process and was offered a role as an intern.
Ironically, I did enjoy my time at the agency as an intern, but the position also helped me realize that being a sports agent was not the career path I truly wanted. The internship also helped me realize that I really enjoyed the recruitment aspect of being a sports agent. That knowledge led me to a career trajectory in human resources, and has culminated in my present position as a senior recruitment manager for Banner Health.
Had it not been for Chris, the rest of the Career Services staff, and the roadmap that they helped me put together, I might have missed the opportunity to discover my love of recruiting and the human resources field.
~ By Tony Mahlmeister ’02 B.I.S., who is a senior recruitment manager at Banner Health.