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Graduation to Vocation: Coordinating Operations for the USL Academy

Holden Hartzog will graduate in December 2021 with a bachelor’s degree in sport management. He recently began working full-time remotely as the operations coordinator for the United Soccer League (USL) Academy. Upon graduation, he will move to Tampa, Florida to work for the company in person. 

We recently spoke with Hartzog to learn more about how his time at NC State’s College of Natural Resources prepared him for a job with the USL Academy and to discuss his motivations for pursuing a degree in sport management.

How has the College of Natural Resources impacted you and prepared you for your future?

The College of Natural Resources has done an excellent job in preparing me not just with academic information, but by prepping me with real-world knowledge on how to apply this work in my field of choice. The vast world of sport management is constantly evolving and requires professionals who can step up to the challenge to lead with integrity and aplomb. The College of Natural Resources and the Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management have prepared me, along with my fellow students, to take this challenge head-on as we pursue success in the sport profession.

What kind of research or other hands-on learning did you participate in?

While at NC State, I was awarded various opportunities to gain hands-on experience with part-time jobs and internships. Through these experiences, I was able to gain crucial work experience that has prepared me for my current career path with skills such as program management, staff management, facility management, tournament administration, marketing, budget implementation, grant writing, etc. These organizations include NC State University Game and Facility Operations, Appalachian State Athletics Marketing, Ripken Baseball, PNC Arena, North Carolina FC, City of Raleigh, and many more. 

Tell us about a faculty member who influenced you. 

I think the entire Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management had an immense impact on who I am today by providing me with personalized and thoughtful guidance during my undergraduate experience. I attribute much of my success to Dr. Janell Moretz, who was my professor for “PRT 150” during my first semester at NC State. This course provided a broad understanding of what it takes to be a successful college student, in which Dr. Moretz presented us with impactful material on how to be a successful professional inside and outside of the classroom.

What motivated you to pursue your work?

I was motivated to pursue a degree in sport management through my lifelong passion for sport. This initial passion turned into a hopeful career as I started to find out how wide-ranging a career in sport looks like. My career path changed often through different experiences but I was never swayed from my desire to work in sport as a lifelong professional and future educator in the field.

What advice would you give students entering your major or field?

My biggest advice to students entering the sport profession is to gain as much real-world experience as possible. This experience includes part-time jobs, internships and networking. I would not be in the same position I am today without gaining these experiences that have set me up to immediately work in the field upon graduation. These experiences also allow you to try out different sectors of sport to find out what makes you passionate. Use your professors as resources for this, as they have many great connections that will help you break into this competitive field.

This post was originally published in College of Natural Resources News.