International student finds a home with the athletic department

A Chinese international student holds a backpack and stands in from of MacMillan Hall

By Rachel Berry and Kristin Magyari

Yuan Chang, who goes by Tony, attended Miami for four years and worked for the basketball and football teams during that time. After graduation, he was hired by the marketing division of Miami’s athletic department.

How has your job at Miami as a student worker helped you secure a career immediately after graduation?

That’s a long story. This is my seventh year in America, and I’ve been working in the athletics industry for six years. My athletics career started at a private high school in Rhode Island. I started as a student soccer manager and then worked with the basketball team.

I just wanted to come to America for the academics. I didn’t even like sports. But when I came here, that all changed.

I remember it was October or November of my freshman year, and there was an athletics event for international students. I won a raffle and started talking to some staff. I told them how I worked for the basketball team for my high school in America, and they seemed pretty interested in my experiences. Now, I’ve been working for them for four years, first in basketball and then in football.

I had no idea what football was all about — we don’t have football in China. I had never thrown a football. I’ve never even touched a football before I got that job.

At the end of the basketball season, I transferred to the football team. I talked with my parents about it, and they said that trying something new is better than not knowing it. So I took that job my sophomore year.

What was your experience like working for the football team?

My workmates had never seen a Chinese employee, never had a Chinese colleague. I’m the first guy who worked for the football team as an international student. Before that, they always had American students since they are familiar with football.

In the beginning of that work, I could not catch a ball. I had no idea what different equipment was called.

I almost gave up in the middle of the season because I thought it was too hard.

I didn’t have any courage to say ‘I want to quit,’ so I just kept doing it until the season was over, and I realized I just got more attached to it. I know the name of the equipment, I know how to help them with practice, I know something I never had the chance to know before, and it’s kind of like a beautiful dream.

All my coaches, my supervisor, they chose to trust me. I learned a lot of stuff and experienced a lot of stuff I never got to try before.

How did all of this translate to your current job, your new life here after graduating from Miami?

I was an economics major in the College of Arts and Science, so they decided to transfer me from the football equipment and facility division to the marketing department. I did an interview with my current supervisor, Lindsay Sparks, and she liked me, and I have the opportunity to work with her now.

I promote football. I clearly know what’s happening on the football team.

I can give you every material we have. I can show you, but as marketing staff, I want you to know for me what I am really feeling.

Like every time I go to a restaurant, I ask what is their favorite food. If they never tried the food by themselves, they’ll never know what food is good.

I try to know what is my favorite and why to promote it for you.

I like to talk with people. I think I’m good with them. I want to know what their feeling are too.

What advice would you give to prospective students, or what would you tell them about Miami?

I wanted to spend my four years of college in a place that gives me more peace, gives me more security, gives me future advising, and teaches me how to get a job. Miami offers a high quality education, and we have very good sports and very good advising for a future career.

I would also say the only way you get more knowledge about one thing is to try it.

I may not be the same as 3,000 international students, but I think I can use my experiences as a bridge to kind of make it easier for students who are not from America to know more about Miami, about Miami spirit, about Miami’s alumni, and about Miami’s athletics.

Yuan Chang