Skip to main content

BA/MBA alum learned to think under pressure and takes the sports world by storm

by Sophie Cipolla,

It’s no surprise that Joe Plaster’s BA‘19 MBA‘20 career has taken off given how involved he was as an undergraduate Economics major at Willamette.

Plaster, a first-generation college student, is currently Global Jordan Retail Marketing Specialist at Nike. As a four-year varsity soccer player, Northwest Conference Champion, NCAA tournament participant, former Assistant Coach and Director of Digital Media for the Willamette Men’s Soccer Team, there was no question he wanted to dive into the sports field as a career.

Joe Plaster BA‘19 MBA‘20

It’s been less than three years since Plaster graduated from Willamette’s BA/MBA Program, but he has already racked up an impressive resume. A hallmark of Willamette’s MBA curriculum is experiential internships that give students development and connections in their field of interest. His internship at Etzel Agency, an Oregon-based sports marketing firm, quickly catapulted him to the top of his professional game by giving him the chance to work on the Gannett High School Sports Awards, run by USA Today. Plaster was managing eighteen shows across the country from Oregon, an experience that gave him hands-on direction in working for brands that were global in reach. Though he didn’t know it at the time, he also gained valuable skills in crisis management.

“The biggest thing I took away from Willamette and my internships is having the confidence to navigate ambiguous situations with a very structured mindset,” said Plaster. That framework has been crucial for Plaster’s work managing events and deliverables that are massive in scope. “You can plan to perfection, and then there might be a literal flood—how do you deal with the hundreds of thousands of dollars of assets involved?”

The “literal flood” refers to the project Plaster took on during his second-year internship with the College Football National Championship in New Orleans, which had him working with Disney and ESPN. Plaster also personally managed relationships with Allstate Insurance, Chick-fil-A, and Capital One, adding to his pre-graduation roster of experience and connections.

The championship was a three-day event leading up to the big game, with over 50,000 people in attendance. “We were all set ten minutes prior to opening,” he said, “and then all the power went out, leading to a flood.” What could have been an overwhelming situation Plaster took in stride and approached with confidence, thanks to the mindset he developed while at Willamette. “Even when the answer may not be clear, I gained the ability to creatively problem solve in the moment.”

Plaster is grateful for the level of responsibility he was given through the experiential dimension of the Willamette MBA program, which he highlights as a rare opportunity for most students or rising professionals. “Being 21 or 22 years old, [those experiences] are not something you are usually presented with.”

Plaster cites Willamette’s First-Generation Book Drive, which aims to reduce the financial stress many first-generation students face when purchasing textbooks or other supplies, as a big help on his academic journey. He also celebrated the career development advisors in the MBA program. “They really helped with developing my resume, interview prep, and navigating the internship market,” he shared. “They’ve helped me stand out in highly competitive applications for highly sought after positions.”

Plaster has already paid it forward by using his influence to give back to current Willamette MBA students, which has been one of his professional goals. “In my last position, I was able to have an MBA intern, who is a current second-year in the program,” he said. His path at Willamette has truly come full circle: “I’m thankful to be able to share my experiences with others.”

Related Stories

View All
Willamette University

Career Development Office helps Elana Greenberg BA’21, MS’22 land her dream job at Hewlett Packard

04.18.2024 | Linda Lenhoff

After earning two degrees from Willamette, Greenberg consulted with Career Development to help her find job search success post-pandemic.

Willamette University

Karol Orozco MBA’22, MS’23 pairs business and data skills with people-centered values to lead TriMet to a more just future

04.18.2024 | Melanie Moyer

A community leader, immigrant, and mother of two, Orozco uses her two degrees to bolster her professional aspirations.

Willamette University

Empowered by a dual degree, Gianna Marchese BA’22, MBA’23 lands an impressive role at Warner Bros.

04.03.2024 | Melanie Moyer

While many in Hollywood are still recovering from pandemic-era closures and setbacks from the summer of strikes, Marchese landed a job promoting big-name films.

Willamette University

University Communications

Waller Hall, Fourth Floor
Willamette University
900 State Street
Salem Oregon 97301 U.S.A.