Thomas Avalos '23 has begun a full-time position as an Account Executive with the Houston Astros as part of the Sales and Service department. Before enrolling in Rice, Avalos had previously served in the Marine Corps for 10 years, worked in roofing, and attended community college before earning his spot as part of Rice's Class of 2023.
"Even though I knew I was different from most of the students at Rice in terms of age and experience, the people at Rice definitely made it easy for me to feel welcome there," Avalos said. "Even before I set foot on campus, the faculty worked with me to make sure I was ready to go, as I had very little time to waste. The day after I was accepted into Rice, Professor Stallings reached out to me via Linkedin and we began discussing my career plans.”
Apart from the students, Avalos mentioned how the Department of Sport Management faculty was very helpful when he first began his studies. Specifically, he named Tom Stallings, Clark Haptonstall, and Steven Rackley as some of the key factors who facilitated his Rice experience.
Soon enough, he found himself embarking on his career search journey, which he described as commencing with a piece of advice from Stallings on how to effectively network within the sports industry.
"One of the first things I learned was effective networking," Avalos said. "When I met new people in the sport industry, it was important for me to be prepared with thoughtful questions that piqued their interest."
Through networking, he reached out to directors with the Astros, and they liked what they heard. Avalos was offered a full-time position which he couldn't accept because of his heavy courseload. Instead took a part-time role as a Ticketing Experience Ambassador.
"As soon as I got the part-time job, I attacked it like it was my only livelihood,” said Avalos. “I did this by learning everything I could and used my knowledge confidently to set myself apart.”
His hard work began to pay off, when during his third year working with the team, he had doubled his ticket sales numbers. Subsequently, the Astros offered him a full-time position immediately after graduation as part of the sales and service group.
"There is very little room for people in the sports industry that aren't willing to put forth an extraordinary level of effort," Avalos said. “To be successful in the industry, you need to be willing to work hard.”
Sergio Rojas, a sophomore from Houston, Texas, is double-majoring in Business with a concentration in Finance and also Sport Management with a concentration in Leadership.