When public relations senior Mattie Whitney first heard MELT CEO and Auburn alumnus Vince Thompson ‘84 speak at a Career Services event, she knew a career at the Atlanta-based, full-service sports marketing agency was for her. When she graduates in May, Whitney will take a full-time position at MELT, after hard work and help from Career Services.
Whitney, a Washington native and first-generation student who pays her own way through college, needed to secure a well-paying job upon graduation, so she took advantage of everything Career Services offered. The first lunch-and-learn she attended was a hiring event that Career Services staff encouraged her to attend, which set her on a path to landing her dream job.
“I knew I needed to use every resource here at Auburn possible,” Whitney said. “I knew I loved sports, but I didn’t know there was a career surrounding it. That’s when Vince came, and everything he talked about, a lightbulb went off. It was kind of mind-blowing seeing how many students were able to interact with an alum at such a highly regarded company, and that we were encouraged to attend.”
Whitney also used Career Services’ other resources, which include career coaching and development to connect students with experiential learning, internship and job placement opportunities.
At Auburn, Whitney has served as the philanthropy chair for her sorority, planned events with the University Program Council and joined The Oaks Agency, Auburn’s student-run PRSSA-affiliated PR firm, as an account manager and executive.
Whitney combined her practical experience from the organizations she was involved in with the knowledge she gained in class to build PR skills. She said she was able to communicate those skills with assistance from Career Services.
“It’s showed me that it’s my job to reach for what I want and Auburn proved that they’re here to help you do that,” Whitney said. “Everyone is here to really support you. Whether it’s sending in your resume, networking, practicing an interview, they’re all really helpful. It also gives you the confidence that you need. If you have that confidence, you’re going to perform better. You’re going to impress them because you’re able to talk about your strengths and skills.”
Still, MELT was always in the back of her mind.
The next time MELT’s Vince Thompson was scheduled for a Career Services event, a delayed flight prevented him from coming back to Auburn. Whitney was devastated about not being able to follow up, so she emailed Career Services.
The office asked for a copy of her resume and put her in contact with one of MELT’s managers, who then called and offered her an opportunity to work Tipoff at Toomer’s. A longstanding tradition in Auburn, Tipoff at Toomer’s celebrates the basketball season by offering food, drinks, games and other festivities in the heart of Auburn and broadcast on television.
The next day, MELT called again—this time, they asked Whitney to join the team as a part-time contactor.
“I would dream to even be able to get the chance to go to that event and now, I’m getting to shadow and work and show off my skills and hopes that this could lead to something,” Whitney said. “Through that, I was able to show my time management skills and how committed I am to not just seeing this as a part-time job, but really putting as much effort into it as I possibly can.”
As a part-time employee, Whitney helped revamp MELT’s social media, worked the inaugural NIL Summit and was instrumental in the Kerry and Gary Challenge, an ALS fundraising campaign named in honor of Auburn basketball’s Gary Godfrey and Alabama football’s Kerry Goode. The Iron Bowl challenge raised more than $1.1 million dollars, gained support from Bruce Pearl, Charles Barkley, Nick Saban and more, and received a proclamation from Gov. Kay Ivey naming a Defeat ALS Week.
Whitney said the impact of sports reaches far beyond what happens on a field or a court.
“When I thought of sports, I thought of the broadcasters. When I came to Auburn, I saw the love of sports, the family of sports, the way that sports brings people together, and I knew this was it,” Whitney said. “All these things bring people together, leaves politics or rivalries aside and makes memories. If you can help market that to people and make those experiences happen, it’s so rewarding.”
A week after the Kerry and Gary Challenge, Whitney received the call she’d been waiting for—a full-time job offer from MELT. Before Christmas of 2022, she signed the paperwork and will start her career in full upon graduation in May.
Her next project is a Women’s Final Four event with Aflac. In July of 2022, she was invited to speak at MELT U, MELT’s summer internship program, about how she set herself up for success and numerous people have approached her about working for MELT. She’s also the lead intern in marketing and fan engagement in Auburn Athletics for the eight-time national champion equestrian team.
Whitney said MELT’s contacts and her connection to Auburn has already opened doors for her in the sports world.
“There’s a saying in the sports community that it’s so competitive to get in, and once you do, no one’s there to try and knock you down. Everyone knows everyone and is trying to support you,” Whitney said. “I’m excited to see what projects I’ll be given, what relationships that leads to and seeing the kind of support I’ll have as a post-grad and a young employee in the workforce.”
Whitney advises current PR students to take advantage of all that Career Services offers, get involved on campus and not to underestimate the Auburn connection with alumni in their fields of interest.
Because she’s already landed a job, Whitney is free to enjoy the rest of her senior year by spending time with friends, going to Auburn basketball games and making memories—all because of an email.
“It was just such a full circle memory to think a year ago, I was sending that email to Career Services and they said, ‘We’re going to help you figure this out.’ Now, I have a career because of it,” Whitney said. “It’s just crazy to think that just a little over a year after that happened, I was landing my dream job that I didn’t even know existed until I came to Auburn and went to that lunch and learn.”
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