By Stephanie Rodriguez
Accomplishing the unexpected and what was once thought as unattainable is possible according to one person. Alex Hannett, a 28-year-old Sport Management alumnus from Barry, gave the university its first presence in the social networking site LinkedIn.
Hannett was diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome at the age of six, and much like his personal life he struggled to move forward with the network, but tenaciously took the challenge head-on. “It was such a small network that no one thought it was going to happen,” said Hannett. “I was told that one college student can’t make this big of an impact.”
Without official support from the University, he took matters into his own hands and worked on the site every chance he got, sometimes for hours on end. He saw the need for students to reach out to future employers and, as a result, created the account to keep people connected.
Over time, Hannett created a place where students could reach out to future employers such as The Walt Disney Company, American Express, the U.S. House of Representatives, the Miami Heat. As a result of his efforts, the network has grown to over 5,200 members in 12 groups confirmed on LinkedIn.
Students and alumni now also have access to 4,000 job postings categorized by profession.
Hannett says that unofficially through emails, discussion board postings, and comments that more than 200 people have found jobs and/or business opportunities through The Barry University Network.
“The biggest challenge was organizing enough people who were motivated, had the passion to get people networking, and that saw the potential and value to the community,” said Hannett.
As the network grew, Hannett got more people from Barry involved to help him.
Dr. Darlene Kluka, Dean of the School of Human Performance and Leisure Sciences, and John Moriarty, Director of Career Services, helped spread the word about the opportunities available through the LinkedIn groups.
“I had the good fortune to meet Alex Hannett five years ago when I first arrived at Barry as coordinator for the sport management programs; a delightful young man, Alex proved to be quite an insightful and creative graduate student,” said Dr. Kluka. “We are so fortunate to have Alex as a Barry alumnus. His devotion to all that is Barry is admirable. His experiences here have enriched us all.”
Dr. Kluka’s opinion is shared with Moriarty as well. According to Moriarty, Hannett wanted to help students and regularly conversed with him about better ways to network.
“He put his heart and soul into this; he came up with this remarkable resource and put in a lot of hard work,” said Moriarty. “He’s very talented in the technical aspect of creating a LinkedIn network, and he’s especially talented in the marketing end to move the network forward.”
Today, more and more alumni are coming to Career Services’ events because of the site and some are even entering into the department’s mentoring program.
In Fall 2012, Hannett donated control of the network to Barry, transitioning it to the official LinkedIn presence for the University. This network will help Barry continue to expand its social media strategy, and is an important resource for engaging alumni, students, employees, and future members of the Barry community.
Bringing LinkedIn to Barry isn’t the only talent that Hannett HAD up his sleeve.
As an undergraduate student, Hannett was one of the top four interns in 2007, according to Barry University’s exclusive publication released by the career center. As a graduate student he also managed to land an internship with the United States Olympic Committee in Colorado Springs, which according to the Princeton Review is one of the top 100 internships in the country.
After graduating from Barry, Hannett worked for Dick’s Sporting Goods, ranked one of the top places to work for recent grads, according to experience.com.
Although the company was a great place to work, he sought more professional fulfillment.
The Barry University Network inspired him to work untiringly to land a job that meets his career goals.
Recently, he decided to take a leap of faith and chase his professional dream. He moved from his hometown in Virginia to Miami without a job or a place to live.
His bold move was one of the best decisions of his life. He is now working for All Florida Paper, which is ranked as one of the top 100 Hispanic companies to work for by Miami-Dade’s Chamber of Commerce.
In addition to his day job, Hannett is a Social Media Strategist for small companies. His main role is to drive business to companies so that they can create revenue and awareness for their organizations.
“I believe I live by the entrepreneurial management quote that recites ‘The desire to win does not equal the will to never give up’,” said Hannett.