Sebastian Hafner- a native of Frankfurt, Germany and alum of Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida – was chosen as this week’s Student of the Week for his outstanding efforts engaging with San Diego State Sports MBA Alumni during the SMBA Alumni Week.
Personally, the cohort system has been one of the best experiences for me. When I first came to San Diego in January, I did not know anyone here. Being part of a class with 29 other like-minded people, who chose this program to work hard and find their way into the sports industry, made this transition so much easier and helped me to get used to the (then) unfamiliar territory. Looking back to the beginning of the year, I can now say that being part of this tight niche Sports MBA family is exciting and rewarding at the same time. Alumni, as well as other guest speakers, come to our class on a regular basis to share some of their experiences as well as give us suggestions on how to better approach the internship and job hunt.
2. How did you experience the transition from being a student athlete in your undergraduate institution to being a full time MBA student at SDSU?
First of all, in my opinion, I would not be here at this prestigious Sports MBA program if it were not for playing tennis. I know that I was very fortunate to be able to leave my home country at an early age to learn a new language, experience a different culture and just soak up the student athlete experience as much as possible. Being part of a collegiate sports team taught me so many important lifelong lessons and values, which I know will be useful for me until the rest of my life. Many of those lessons I learned are now directly applicable to the cohort environment. Learning how to become a hard worker, good listener, a reliable teammate, and a genuine team leader are all things that helped me become a better classmate. Even though I think that being a college athlete has helped me prepare for this Sports MBA program, it definitely took me a while to adjust to the new environment. The fast paced class schedule and the long hours of studying outside class were things I had to adjust to and have helped me prepare for the competitive sports industry.
The trip to the DR was definitely one of my most memorable experiences thus far. Personally, I enjoyed interaction with local children the most. During the daily recaps it became clear that not only me but other members of the cohort enjoyed giving back to the impoverished communities around the Dominican Republic. Visiting several orphanages during that week helped me put everything into perspective. Besides that, the trip to the Dominican helped me get to know all of my classmates even better. It was a great way to interact to your peers in a non-academic setting. Being able to share those impressions with my classmates is something wonderful and the fact that we were able to make an impact to some of these children’s lives is even better.
4. What advice would you give a perspective student looking to apply to the SDSU SMBA?
So far, this year has been one of the most exciting years of my life. A perspective student can expect a new chapter in their life. A perspective student can expect to learn from their peers during class as well as outside of the classroom. Besides that, a perspective student needs to anticipate long days in the class room as well as many extra hours of studying outside class. The program does not allow much warm up time since the first few months of the year entail classes such as Statistics, Accounting, Finance, Sports Law, Sports Marketing as well as Organizational Behavior. Overall, a student at the SDSU Sports MBA program is expected to work hard, dedicate most of its free time to studying and job searching and at the same time is expected to be a valuable asset to the peers. While it might sound overwhelming to some degree, those long hours of struggle define who you are and help shape your future.
5. After the program, what area of sports would you like to be involved in?
As a former college tennis player, my dream is to find a spot in the tennis industry. Having dedicated the majority of my life to learning and playing the sport, I always knew that staying loyal to the game I love will be my number one priority. I want to become a tournament director for a professional men’s or women’s tennis event. I think that the complexity of responsibilities in setting up an event like this is something that will excite me and push me to my limits at the same time. While the thought of being responsible for the success of an entire tennis tournament is a bit scary, I know that with hard work, dedication and perseverance, everything is possible.