Finding a way back into sports communications through fundraising
Photo caption: John Coogan (left), president of the Vegas Golden Knights Foundation and Carnell “Golden Pipes” Johnson, an infamous national anthem singer at Vegas Golden Knights home games, stand with Tim Mullin.
Reynolds School alumnus Tim Mullin with the Vegas Golden Knights Foundation offers career advice to students
“There are only so many jobs in the sports industry, and young professionals looking to break into it need to find their way of standing out from the crowd,” Reynolds School of Journalism alumnus Tim Mullin said. “Show any potential employer what makes you different!”
Mullin graduated from the Reynolds School in December 2006 with plans to become a sports journalist.
“My first job out of school was covering community and high school sports for a weekly newspaper in Las Vegas. My dream job at that time was to be a sports columnist for a major metropolitan newspaper,” Mullin said.
He went on to work as a sports reporter for the Time Record before changing career paths to become the executive director of the Nevada Partnership for Homeless Youth. Mullin went on to a career in real estate and then a position as the center director for the United Service Organization (USO), which connects America’s military service members to their family, home and country while they serve.
In 2017, Mullin returned to work in the sports industry as the director of strategic partnerships for the Vegas Golden Knights Foundation. His career move was somewhat unplanned.
“I met my current boss by pitching him on a donation to the USO,” Mullin said. “He realized he was looking for someone with my exact experience, and I realized how great of an opportunity it would be on the ground floor and help build Nevada’s first major league professional sports team’s foundation.”
In his current job, he oversees all fundraising efforts for the Vegas Golden Knights and the Folded Flag Foundation, a nonprofit founded by the Golden Knights’ owner Bill Foley that provides support and educational assistance to families of military members who lost their lives in service.
“I’m fortunate to work in a role where I am given the freedom to explore new ideas and different ways to raise money for not only the Vegas Golden Knights Foundation but also the Folded Flag Foundation, which is a national charity,” he said. “I’m constantly exploring unique avenues to pitch both foundations to new donors and donor prospects around the country.”
According to Mullin, students looking for jobs in the fundraising field must be willing to listen and be open to new ideas.
“Some of the best fundraisers I’ve ever managed came from conversations with folks that have randomly reached out to me,” he said. “You never know where a creative idea will come from. Be open, be honest, and always be willing to meet and talk with new people that come into your life or work.”
For students working toward a job in other fields, Mullin suggested constantly improving their communications skills.
“No matter what career path students choose, I find it important to constantly be working on your communication skills, whether it be written or verbal,” Mullin said. “In my opinion, first impressions and relationship building are key to success in life and often your first impression these days comes through email and it’s imperative to be thoughtful in how you write that first email to any potential business partner, donor, source, client, etc.”
He also shared the best advice he was given as a student, words of wisdom that current students can easily apply as they work toward their professional careers.
“I was told that no one is ever perfect and all of us are always learning to be a better version of ourselves,” Mullin said. “I also learned quickly at [the University] how to adapt and multitask. Life rarely goes exactly as planned, but those who learn to adapt, survive those unexpected things that come up in life.”