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York College student lands job with Atlanta Hawks before graduation

Kevin Sheaffer head and shoulders

Kevin Sheaffer ’20 had one shot to prove himself. Years of competition in basketball, football, soccer, and track had taught him how to perform under pressure.

He entered the National Collegiate Sports Sales Competition with one goal: to try to break into the sports sales industry. He came out in 16th place out of 97 competitors, with a full-time job offer with a professional basketball team—the Atlanta Hawks—before even graduating from York College of Pennsylvania.

The center of the conversation

It wasn’t just Kevin who was into sports. Growing up, his whole family life revolved around them. Evenings and weekends were filled with practices and games for him and his siblings.

They’d go up to State College for Penn State football games. They took regular trips to see the Hershey Bears, Pittsburgh Pirates, and Philadelphia Phillies play. Every now and then, they’d drive down to Washington, D.C., to watch D.C. United play soccer on their home turf. “We’d come home, and sports was always the center of the conversation,” he remembers.

As much as he loved playing sports, Kevin wasn’t going to be able to make a career off his athletic abilities alone. So, he settled for the next best thing: majoring in Sport Management at York College. “That was one of the biggest things, keeping sports in my life and keeping it as relevant and important as it once was,” he says. “Being able to make money off of what I’ve loved when I didn’t have the athletic ability to do it.”

Building relationships

Kevin found his niche when interviewing a sales representative from the Tiger Woods Foundation for a first-year class at the College. “Kind of being able to recreate that experience I had with my family for other families is something I thought would be really cool,” he says.

Kevin is a confident guy, a quality that shines through when he talks about sales. “I love talking to people, building a rapport, building a relationship, and seeing it come forward from there,” he says. “If you can display that, you’re a genuine person, and you can display that you care about their needs, it shows.”

Once his teachers knew the path he wanted to take, they were on the lookout for opportunities for him. His first internship was at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia—a position he got in part from connections formed at an alumni event and the dedication of his advisor.

And the sales competition that landed him his job? It was an advisor at York College who told him about that, too. “I wouldn’t have had this opportunity if it weren’t for York College and my experiences,” he says.

Doing what he loves

Kevin doesn’t technically graduate from York College until May 2020, but his job counts as his final internship, and that, combined with an online sport ethics class, has allowed him to finish up his senior year in Atlanta.

It’s been an amazing experience so far. “I love it,” he says. “The culture of the company down here has been incredible. It really makes it easy—makes it a second home.”

Top management is accessible, and Kevin is able to do what he loves in building relationships to help people have the same experience he had as a child.

Of course, he’ll be back in York come May to celebrate his big win: graduation. “My mom would kill me if I didn’t walk,” he laughs.