Diamondbacks pitch career advice to CCOB students
Story and photos by Mark Heller
GCU News Bureau
Austin Walker admitted to a little envy toward his audience: students he once was.
A couple of years ago, Walker was a Grand Canyon University student. He would have been one of the nearly 300 students who listened to members of the Arizona Diamondbacks sales staff speak Thursday morning about career opportunities, networking and getting a foot in the door.
While the Sports Business program within the Colangelo College of Business quickly rose to prominence, Walker used volunteer work and internships during college to help land a full-time job as the D-backs’ group events and hospitality coordinator after graduating in 2015.
Two years later, Walker is a speaker instead of listener.
“It’s fun to speak to people who have a blank slate and help them invest in their career paths,” he said.
He and his co-workers shared their backgrounds, career advice and business insights with more than 300 CCOB students. During the two sessions, Walker was joined by fellow Diamondbacks teammates:
- Ryan Holmstedt: senior director for ticket sales
- Anthony Synegal: director of group events and hospitality
- Luis Calderon: senior manager of ticket operations
- Mike Dellosa: director of season ticket and inside sales
“The other side of this is that word is getting out to companies about us,” said Dr. Brian Smith, CCOB assistant dean and director of the Colangelo School of Sports Business. “Hard workers, dependable, spirited.”
Afterward, the five guests were swarmed by students interested in networking, asking questions, sharing business cards and possible aspirations.
“They need to know everyone’s path will be different from everyone else, but these events are essential for students getting their names and faces out there. It’s why LinkedIn is such an important tool,” Dellosa said. “But it’s a huge help on our side in terms of internships and hiring for many of the same reasons.”
Like all other CCOB initiatives, the three major emphases of education, experience and relationships was at the core of Thursday’s presentations. It’s what Smith called the “intersection of their highest and most employable selves.”
Important initiatives because, as Dellosa noted, Walker is one of several current or former GCU students hired in recent years by the Diamondbacks – and other Valley sports franchises — for internships and jobs.
That includes Walker, who worked himself into the crossroads of employability and opportunity in 2015 and wants to do his part in helping each class thereafter.
“Being two years out (of school) and able to relate to them is priceless,” Walker said. “Whether it’s the Sports Business Club, volunteering, guest speakers, these can set (students) up for more success than me,” Walker said. “In some ways I’m jealous but happy to pay it forward.”
Contact Mark Heller at (602) 639-7516 or firstname.lastname@example.org