ASU Night at the D-backs showcases the many paths to careers in sports
As thousands of people prepared to celebrate ASU Night at a recent Diamondbacks game, 150 ASU alumni and students gathered at Chase Field ahead of the game against the Dodgers for a Career and Professional Development Services panel to discuss how Sun Devils can make a career in the sports and entertainment industry.
The event, sponsored by the W. P. Carey School of Business and the ASU Alumni Association, featured a diverse set of experiences in the field, including everything from business and legal work to nonprofit and athletic careers. Panelists included Graham Rossini, vice president of special projects and fan experience for the Diamondbacks; Nona Lee, executive vice president and chief legal officer for the Diamondbacks; Joe Bertoletti, senior associate director of sports and tourism for the city of Surprise; Willie Bloomquist, special assistant to the Diamondbacks president and CEO; Elana Kutz, the director of the sports business program at ASU’s W. P. Carey School of Business; and Debbie Castaldo, vice president of corporate and community impact for the Diamondbacks and the executive director of the Diamondbacks Foundation.
Alumnus Aaron Myers, who graduated in 2004 after earning his degree in finance from the W. P. Carey School of Business, attended because he is a big supporter of ASU and he loves sports.
“It’s great to hear the panelists and their journey and how they got to where they are at,” Myers said. “I was really interested to hear how people got their start in a sports career and what has made them successful so far.”
Myers is currently in banking, but he knows what it’s like to transition to new fields. He grew up mostly overseas in a military family, and he served in the U.S. Air Force as a medical lab technologist. Before shifting to finance, he wanted to pursue medicine but realized that he didn’t enjoy working in trauma.
Myers, who also played football in high school and for Mesa Community College before his time at ASU, said it’s a family tradition to be a sports fan, and he’s always interested in hearing about career opportunities in the field. He said that the ASU event at the Diamondbacks game showcased how many avenues and journeys can lead to a career in sports.
“It was great to see the diversity of each panelist and to see where they came from, what that success looks like,” Myers said. “It really reinforced that there’s not just one path to getting into a career in the sports-entertainment industry. There’s not one path. It’s all about passion, and that’s the common thread.”
One of the paths attendees heard about was transitioning from being an athlete to working elsewhere in the industry. Former Diamondbacks utility player Bloomquist, who also played baseball for ASU and earned his degree in management in 2001, said that since baseball had been such a big part of his life for so many years, it was hard to imagine not staying connected after he was done playing. Now the special assistant to Diamondbacks President and CEO Derrick Hall, Bloomquist said he relied on his ASU network to help him stay in the industry. Hall is also a Sun Devil, who graduated in 1991 with a degree in broadcast journalism from the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.
“It’s a very, very competitive world, so, like it or not, a lot of times you have to rely on your network and who you know and how you’re able to use your strengths that might be useful in that industry in some way, shape or form,” Bloomquist said. “To go into it cold turkey is gonna be very, very competitive; it’s going to be tough to break into initially.”
Bloomquist said he loved the interactive panel and hearing from fellow Sun Devils about the practical questions they had about the industry. He enjoys connecting with Sun Devils because of his great experience at the university and because the university attracts such great people, which makes networking easier and more enjoyable, he said.
“It was the best four years of my life hands down. Just the experiences, not only as an athlete but also as a student there. The opportunities that the university offers both athletically and academically are just second to none,” Bloomquist said. “Once you leave there, the network that it provides is really extraordinary. On all fronts from the time you’re there to the time you leave and now being an alumni, the networking and all that is tremendous.”
Associate Director of Alumni for ASU Career and Professional Development Services Veronica Aguilar said it was thrilling to organize and host this event at the stadium itself and to draw so many mid-career professionals to hear about ASU’s career services for life.
Her favorite part of the event was seeing so many people get excited about being in a group of Sun Devils. When she asked the attendees how many were alumni of ASU, the room went wild.
“To see that amount of pride in a room in a setting that was for a Major League Baseball game in their space, that literally gave me chills. It was so exciting to see everyone come together and be excited,” Aguilar said.
Aguilar said the feedback she received from alumni after the event has been amazing, and she said that she loves sharing with Sun Devils all the resources they have access to:
Events in Arizona and beyond
There’s another opportunity right around the corner. Don’t miss out on the fun and professional development! Check out the Nov. 13 event at Gadzooks Enchiladas and Soup in Tempe. Hear from owner Aaron Pool, an ASU alumnus who studied business and graduated in 2009.
Need career services but you’re not sure where to start? Reach out and CPDS is happy to guide you. Call Aguilar at 480-965-6307 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.