Sometimes it pays to know others, just as it did for Eric Platte.
“I was in college during the Great Recession and the job opportunities weren’t as plush as they are these days,” said Platte. “Out of school, I had an opportunity to work for a Fortune 500 company in a leadership program or I could go work in entry-level sales with the Atlanta Hawks. I ended up taking the road less traveled and signed an eight-month contract at $10 an hour plus commission to sell Atlanta Hawks tickets.”
That modest start led Platte up the ladder. Today, he is vice president of ticket sales for the professional basketball organization. As vice president, Platte oversees and handles numerous projects at a time. With the NBA season currently in full swing, he finds himself very busy on a daily basis.
“In professional sports, there’s definitely seasonality. For us, the busy season is in the middle of August when the NBA schedule is released through June with the NBA Finals, and then it slows down a little bit until August,” said Platte. “My role is high-level and focused on driving a thriving sales culture while maximizing demand with the product on the court that season.”
Although it was his work ethic that helped land him his job, Platte cannot help but credit a lot of his success to the education he received at the Broad College. With all the opportunities Michigan State provided him, it was easy to take advantage of chances like this.
“I was a Supply Chain Management major, but what I loved about Eli Broad College of Business was wide array of business courses you took that made you well-rounded upon graduation,” said Platte.
The Broad College taught Platte many important lessons over his four years. He, after graduation, soon figured out that it was not about the grades or exams scores he earned, but the effort put forth into those things that really mattered in the long run.
“You’ve got to make sure that you’re a person that can get the job at hand done, that you’re someone who can work with a department that you have little to no knowledge of. Having a foundation of solid internal relationships and being able to influence them to support you on a project that you have at hand,” said Platte, adding that he loves how the Broad College “sets you up with that between the group projects and the difficult nature of the day-to-day. Obviously, you feel some pressure that is very similar to the real world, and that is a reason I give back to Michigan State.”
After eight years with the Hawks, Platte has learned a few things that has helped him thrive in the business world. With everything he has experienced, Platte has some key pieces of advice that he would like to pass on to current Broad College students.
“From preschool through college, you’re consistently learning. Then one day, you graduate college and no one is pushing you to learn. To me, this is the biggest opportunity for recent graduates to separate themselves,” Platte said. “One hour each day is just four percent of your entire day. Use that time to push yourself to become a better version of yourself through reading books (and) articles and listening to podcasts.”
“At least in my small scope of the business world, this has been the differentiating factor for career advancement,” Platte said.
With the advice of what to do when looking for a job, there is also some things that Platte suggests students do to stand out when they finally get to the point of reaching out to future employers.
“I urge students that if you really want that job at that company you’ve always wanted to work for, get creative. Don’t just apply online and cross your fingers you get called. That’s what 99 percent of the people do,” Platte said. “Stand out by reaching out in unique ways that will get your resume to the top of the stack.”
“I once had someone send me a size 17 basketball shoe with a hand-written thank you note that said she just wanted to get their foot in the door and guess what, she got an interview that day!” said Platte. “Don’t fear rejection, and shoot your shot.”
If you want to learn more about the Atlanta Hawks Sales Development Program, visit hawks.com/salesdevelopment or email Eric Platte directly at firstname.lastname@example.org