The University of Missouri College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources (CAFNR) offers its students a variety of opportunities to connect with industry professionals, through career fairs, symposiums and tours. For Alex Stone, one of those opportunities connected him with a fellow parks, recreation and sport alumnus – as well as the St. Louis Cardinals.
During his senior year, Stone attended a sport-specific symposium where he met Andrew Dean. Dean had earned his parks, recreation and sport degree from MU two years prior and was working with the Cardinals in ticket development. The two had a good conversation and Stone made sure to stay in touch with Dean as he finished his degree. Eventually a position opened up and the duo have been building careers with the Cardinals ever since.
“It’s been really cool to work together, as we do have those similar experiences,” Stone said. “We know the challenges and can share those success stories that we have. It’s been a lot of fun.”
Stone, who is from Palmyra, Mo., grew up watching sports nonstop, including a variety of Mizzou events. As someone who one day wanted to work in the sports industry, he realized that continuing his education at MU would give him a great shot at making the necessary connections for his future.
“I knew Mizzou had a large athletic department that would give me plenty of opportunities to find where my interests were,” Stone said. “I thought I would see how much I could learn and absorb.”
Hands-on learning experiences were easy to come by throughout Stone’s time as a Tiger. He participated in a work study with the volleyball team and worked in the Mizzou Athletics business office. His capstone was with the Show-Me State Games where he helped organize and promote a variety of sporting events.
“Knowing what I know now, those experiential learning experiences are vital,” Stone said. “I went on several networking trips that were all very beneficial. It’s so valuable to have those work experiences so that you’re ready to go when you enter the workforce.”
Stone earned his parks, recreation and sport degree in 2016. He joined the Cardinals soon thereafter.
“I grew up a Cardinals fan so it was a blessing to be able to find an opportunity with them,” Stone said. “It’s been very rewarding to work for an organization with such a large footprint and one that is appreciated by so many people.”
Stone is a supervisor of ticket development with the Cardinals. He oversees a staff of direct sales representatives and part-time staff. He helps that staff with a variety of sales tasks and is a resource for the entire group.
Dean originally hired Stone, and Stone is a supervisor in the ticket development office that Dean manages. Dean, who graduated with his parks, recreation and sport degree in 2014, has steadily worked his way up within the Cardinals’ ticket development office since joining the organization in 2015.
“There’s a lot that goes into my manager role,” Dean said. “I do a lot of coaching and training, as well as working with our fans and other customers. We have sales initiatives throughout the year that I help execute, and I’m always reflecting on best practices for our team.”
Dean grew up in St. Louis and planned to come to MU from a fairly young age. Both of his parents attended Mizzou.
“Black and gold was definitely in my blood,” Dean said. “I felt at home right away and I knew I was going to get a great education at MU.”
When Dean began at MU, the sport management emphasis area within the parks, recreation and sport degree program was just starting. Dean’s ultimate goal was to find a career in sports, and the emphasis area seemed like the perfect spot to get a jump start on that path. One of the most important opportunities that Dean had – and one that directly prepared him for his role with the Cardinals – was with the Mizzou Athletics ticket office. He worked there for three years and learned many skills that translated over when he began his career.
“I learned about customer service, fan interactions and the operation aspect behind tickets,” Dean said. “I was given a lot of responsibilities in that role which allowed me to grow quite a bit. It also gave me a lot of confidence. I knew that I was going to be ready for my first job because of the work I was already doing. I definitely had an edge.
“Plus, I was working there as we were transitioning from the Big 12 to the SEC, which was a really fun time.”
Dean took a sales job with the Tennessee Titans before joining his hometown team. He started his career with the Cardinals as a direct sales representative and after two additional stops he took his current role as manger of ticket development.
“Working for my favorite team is a huge honor,” Dean said. “When I walk into Busch Stadium, I don’t take it for granted. I’m grateful for this opportunity; it’s been such an amazing experience.”
Dean and Stone recently returned to the Mizzou campus for the spring career fair, hosted by CAFNR and the College of Arts and Science. They interacted with numerous students about internship and job opportunities within the Cardinals organization.
“I have a lot of fond memories of Mizzou, so it was fun being back,” Dean said. “I remember what it was like to be in their shoes, so it was nice to be able to offer the students a little bit of advice from the other side of the table.”