Pepperdine sophomore Caroline Hooshim (left) moderates the panel of alumni including (left to right) Dallas Hitchcock, Tyler Potts, Kellie Warren and Christian Franson — as they share their career journeys and advice with students interested in a career in sports administration at the Black Family Plaza Classroom on Jan. 25. Pepperdine’s Student Alumni Organization hosted the event and over 30 students attended. Photos by Tanya Yarian
As students explore their career interests through classes, clubs or on-campus activities, some Pepperdine organizations aim to expand students’ opportunities to explore career possibilities such as, Pepperdine’s Student Alumni Organization (SAO) who hosted their first Night to Network event of the semester Jan. 25.
With over 30 students in attendance, SAO invited four Pepperdine alumni — Christian Franson (’22), Dallas Hitchcock (’01), Tyler Potts (’13) and Kellie Warren (’20) — to share their experiences working in the sports administration field. From stating their favorite sports team outside of their organization for the icebreaker question to talking about growth in their careers, this event served as an opportunity for alumni to engage with students, said Esther Chung, manager for affinity engagement at Alumni Relations and adviser of SAO.
Starting in fall 2006, SAO has hosted Night to Network for 17 years and paused the event during COVID-19, Chung wrote in a Feb. 8 email to the Graphic.
First-year RJ Saenz attended the event and said it is important to take advantage of these types of opportunities at Pepperdine.
“A career in sports, ever since I was young, has been something that I’ve wanted to do when I’m older and something I’ve worked for,” Saenz said. “And so what better way to gain some knowledge and be around successful Pepperdine alum that have done it and find a way to follow in their footsteps.”
SAO’s main goal is to plan different events to connect students with alumni, Schendel said.
“I think it’s always nice and always important to hear stories from people who came before you and what they’ve been doing,” Chung said. “And if they made any mistakes, what can you learn from their mistakes, and what can you be doing to be in the position that they’re in if you’re interested in whatever they’re doing.”
SAO’s E-board includes
- President Ryan Marumoto
- Hannah Schendel, vice president of Marketing and Recruitment
- Cierra Villanueva, vice president of Special Events
- Joell Vaca, vice president of Operations
- Caroline Hooshim, vice president of Alumni Connections
Each member contributed to the planning and set-up of the event.
“I think we’re in a really special position, like our jobs that we have, that we’re able to put on events like this,” Marumoto said. “And I think that it’s smart for students to take advantage of it — just because we have great alumni here at Pepperdine.”
Sophomore Caroline Hooshim, SAO’s vice president of Alumni Connections, moderated the event and said it was SAO’s first event of the semester. Hooshim asked the speakers about their most pivotal moments, career advice and their own goals for the future. The speakers opened up about their own journeys in the sports administration field and gave advice on what students can do to work their way toward similar careers.
“It’s about who you know and that’s how you’re gonna be able to break into an industry,” Franson said at the event.
The speakers also shared the importance of going the extra mile in an interview and sending hand-written thank you letters afterward. Christian said it is important to utilize the Seaver College Career Center to have a great resume and prepare for a job or internship interview.
The night ended with a question and answer portion for students to ask deeper questions whether about the speakers, the sports administration field or the job or internship process.
First-year Tanner Jacob also attended Night to Network. Jacob and Saenz both said how the speakers’ emphasis on building relationships overtime and networking is a crucial aspect in one’s careers.
“Pepperdine is a great school, obviously, and we have a lot of good [alumni] and learning from qualified, educated, successful people in your field is invaluable and it’s great that Pepperdine offers opportunities like these alumni events,” Saenz said.
Alumni events can help students find a mentor or a connection that can help them explore jobs or internships in the future, Chung said. She said she loves to see how alumni are willing to return to Malibu and share their experiences.
“To see those connections and that community extend beyond the Malibu campus is very special, and makes it worth it for me,” Chung said.
SAO plans to host a second Night to Network event Feb. 15, that will focus on consulting. They are also planning a larger Night to Network event March 21, which will revolve around several career fields students may be interested in. Chung said students can choose which alumni to speak with whether in-person, hybrid or virtually.
“I think it’s never a bad thing to connect with another person, especially if this person is older than you and has a little bit more experience under their belts,” Chung said.
Chung encourages students to attend these events and said SAO is open to collaboration with students or student clubs on campus. Marumoto said students can visit SAO on Instagram or visit their website for more information. Villanueva said SAO takes the initiative to invite alumni from various fields for events like this.
“That way every student can feel included in being able to talk to someone that they hopefully would like to become someday,” Villanueva said.
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