Sport Management Students at York College Connect with Alumni Mentors
Sport Management students at York College connected with alumni mentors in their field of interest after the Sport Management advisory board noticed a need among new graduates to have connections in their career field.
When six Sport Management students returned to campus after visiting Super Bowl LIV in 2020, each had a class that they got to work with, says Mentorship Program Coordinator Donna Grove. “They discussed what they saw at the Super Bowl, connecting theory to practice.”
A program emerges
Students were excited about the idea of mentorship due to what they had learned from their peers in the peer mentorship that was conducted during the Super Bowl experience. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, travel was halted and experiencing the Super Bowl was postponed. At the same time, the Sport Management advisory board saw the value of mentorship and the growing need for graduates to have connections in their career field before leaving school. The Sport Management Alumni/Student Mentorship Program grew out of this need. For the last two years, students have connected one-on-one with alumni to learn the ins and outs of working in sport management.
“Being a mentor to someone I can relate to has made it easier to give advice and influence in ways I wish I was able to benefit from as a student,” says Evan Andariese ’17, who mentored Sport Management major Andrew Burget ’24. Andariese is the Hoop Group Girls Event Director as well as Assistant Men's Basketball Coach at Ocean County College in New Jersey.
Throughout the 2021-2022 school year, four students and mentors participated in the program. Besides Andrew and Andariese, the program included Cody Ross ’23 mentored by Christopher Meegan ’13, Maycee Collison ’24 mentored by Whitney Marks ’12, and Zachary Mentzer ’23 mentored by Colbe Herr ’14.
“We talked to students before placing them; talked about what their goals were and found mentors for them who were doing what they want to do,” says Grove.
Preparing for the next chapter
For Andrew, the opportunity was too good to pass up.
“When I graduate, I want to look back on my four years at York and firmly say that I’m ready for the next chapter,” he says. “Having the opportunity to look back and reflect on this experience that I am partaking [in], I can [use] the valuable insights given and use them as guidance to be successful in the industry.”
The mentors and mentees, often separated by hundreds of miles, met via video calls throughout the fall and spring semesters. Others met in-person. The mentors had the students create goals that they explored in their meetings. They also discussed résumés, networking, and how to connect with professionals in the field.
“I think the purpose of the program was, ‘How do we prepare our students to be refined professionals at the point of graduation through this program?’ ” says Grove.
One of the tasks Andariese assigned Andrew was to connect with as many professionals in his areas of interest as possible. Because of his desire to become an athletic director, Andrew reached out to Josh Azer, Director of Athletic Development at Lafayette College; Joseph Foley, Senior Associate Athletic Director for Advancement at Penn State University; and Heather Lyke, Athletic Director at the University of Pittsburgh.
“I had great in-depth conversations with all three of these professionals and they provided me with valuable insight on what their career has looked like over the years and how they got to where they are now,” Andrew says. “If it wasn’t for Evan giving me the advice to reach out to professionals, I may not have reached out to any of these individuals or any professionals in my designated field, and perhaps I would not have gained the insight that I did from them.”
The next round of the Mentorship Program will launch in September 2022 and continue through May 2023. Grove hopes that the conversations started through the program will continue long after it ends. She says the Graham School of Business intends to launch a Mentorship Program for other majors and the Graham School of Business as a whole.
“Speaking to professionals in your field really sets you apart,” Grove says. “Students have access to information that, even though we, as professors, talk about it in class and in other programs, the professionals can actually show the students and their understanding increases and so does their marketability.”