A St. Mike’s education serves sports and outdoor recreation jobs well

October 13, 2022
By Faith Morgan '23

Students gathered with successful Saint Michael’s College alumni in the Farrell Room of Saint Edmund’s Hall late Monday afternoon, October 3, to hear a panel presentation with the catchy and descriptive title “Having a Ball: Working in Sports & Outdoor Recreation.”


Panelists from left: Quaron Pinckney ’12, Steve Cerri,’15, Erica Kamerzel ’16 and Joe Connelly ’87. (photo by Ingrid Peterson)

Co-sponsoring this panel presentation were the Boucher Career Education Center, the Department of Business and Accounting, the Adventure Sports Center, and Alumni and Family Engagement.

Ingrid Peterson, director of the Boucher Career Education Center, opened the panel by introducing four alumni who all work in a range of outdoor or sports-related careers.

Quaron Pinckney ‘12 is the director of athletics for the Burlington School District. During his time at Saint Michael’s, Pinckney studied media studies, journalism, and digital arts with minors in psychology and marketing.  After graduating, he worked as a marketing coordinator for Smuggler’s Notch Ski Resort. Pinckney said that while working this job, he realized he did not want to make a career out of marketing. He advises recent graduates to do their best in every job they have after college, even if it seems to be a less fitting one. Those employers will be references on your resume someday, so make sure they have good things to say about you, said Pinckney.

In 2018, Pinckney began coaching for Woodstock Union High School and enjoyed that job much more, realizing he needed to be working in an environment of sports and education. When the position opened up for head of athletics at Burlington School District in 2020, Pinckney said he knew it would be a good fit for him.

Pinckney now oversees hundreds of student athletes and he is able to influence them in an important way, he said. “I try to be that liaison for student athletes,” said Pinckney. “I think it’s important to teach them how to put themselves out there for recruiting processes, how to keep their grades up and how to balance school with sports.”

Pinckney credits the well-rounded nature of the Saint Michael’s liberal arts education for his ability to be a good communicator in his current job. “Those skills helped me understand how to talk to students who need emotional help, or to talk to parents who have concerns,” he said.

Erica Kamerzel ‘16, youth programs manager at Petra Cliffs Climbing Center and Mountaineering School, found herself also gravitating toward something very different from her major and minor studies at Saint Michael’s.

Kamerzel studied economics with minors in French and philosophy at Saint Michael’s, and after graduation, she worked a slew of odd jobs, all relating in some way to the outdoors. While she did not go right into an economics job after graduation, she said she appreciates what economics taught her. “When I was young, I’d sit at my dinner table reading the newspaper and I’d have so many questions for my parents,” Kamerzel said. “I found that economics helped me make sense of the world we’re operating in and why it is that way.”


Students listen intently to panelists discussing sports and outdoor recreation careers. (photo Ingrid Peterson)

Steve Cerri ‘15, manager and bookkeeper at St. Regis Canoe and Kayak, recommends that students acquire some kind of technical skill to fall back on. Although he is in an administrative position, Cerri said, he had his EMT certification to fall back on, if need be. “A lot of folks end up in the industry for the wrong reason. Either they don’t know what else to do or they think there is nothing else,” he said.

Cerri also urged students to vet their possible employers as much as the employer will be vetting them. Asking the employer about the general responsibilities of the job is an important question to ask, said Cerri, because if the prospective employer does not have a solid and clear answer, then it may not be worth continuing the application process.

Joe Connelly ‘87, executive director of RunVermont, advises students to “write out your five year and ten year plans, but make sure you write them in pencil, because they’ll change.”

Connelly worked for a private accounting firm for 13 years after graduation. At the time, Connelly was heavily involved with volunteer efforts in the community. The founder of RunVermont, a nonprofit organization that puts on race events, coaching services, and youth program events, was looking for someone to do administrative and organizational work. Connelly pursued a part-time position at RunVermont while also coaching men’s cross country and skiing at Saint Michael’s. “Both of these jobs fulfilled me so much more than the accounting position did,” he said.

Connelly advises students to be open to what a job in the field may be. “There’s a lot of jobs in the field that don’t even feel like jobs necessarily,” said Connelly. “Networking is important for this reason. Meeting with and talking to people in the field opens individuals up to all of the opportunities.”

As Kamerzel said, “In this field, you have to get into it with patience and a little bit of creativity.”

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