Emily Hejlik (’12 journalism & communication studies) is a West Des Moines native and Cyclone women’s soccer letterwinner who currently works as the marketing manager for the Olympics and Actions Sports division at Octagon, one of the largest global sports, entertainment, lifestyle marketing and talent representation agencies in the U.S. During her internship with Octagon in 2012, Hejlik worked with Olympic gymnast Aly Raisman. She continues her association with Olympic athletes today as a full-time Octagon employee. The Young Alumni Council recently caught up with Hejlik to find out a little more about how Iowa State led her to this interesting career.
Tell us a little more about yourself.
I’m from West Des Moines and graduated from good ol’ Valley High School. I played soccer and was a two-year captain at Iowa State, wrote for the Iowa State Daily, and frequented the gyro stand on Welch Ave. I’m a wicked (Boston accent included) Boston sports fan, foodie, and am way too competitive.
How did Iowa State help lead you to where you are now?
Iowa State is instrumental to where I’m at in my career today, in particular, the Greenlee School of Journalism and Communication and people like Michael Bugeja and Kim McDonough. I was a Scripps Howard scholarship recipient the summer going into my last year at Iowa State, which allowed me to do an internship with Comcast SportsNet New England. Through my internship, I worked with Olympic gymnast and Boston native Aly Raisman, who was represented by Octagon. The professors, coaches, and athletic department at Iowa State are second to none, and really go out of their way to help you succeed. Working for the Iowa State Daily also gave me invaluable experience and applicable skills to my everyday work.
How do you “live” Iowa State in your everyday life?
I live Iowa State every day first by currently bragging about the success of our men’s basketball team and how there is nothing that beats Hilton Magic! Being an Iowa State alum really gives me pride to say I’m a Cyclone. You feel a responsibility to always do things the right way, whether that be working hard, being kind, or helping someone in need.
How has being an alumna of Iowa State helped you connect with others?
Saying you’re a graduate of Iowa State definitely gives you an edge in the “real world.” It gives you immediate credibility when networking, and you quickly see how many alumni are working at successful companies. Having Iowa State on your resume alone sets you apart from the rest.
How did your experience at Iowa State help lead you into your role with athletes and the Olympics?
Since I was young, and a huge tomboy, I always knew I wanted to work in sports. I used to think I would someday play in the NBA, seriously. The university and women’s soccer program gave me the tools necessary to succeed in a very competitive industry. Playing collegiate soccer at the Division I level and working within a team that is striving toward a common goal taught me so much. You’re faced with adversity on a daily basis and quickly learn that you need to be at your best and give 100 percent in everything you do, whether that be in practice, the weight room, or in the classroom. Otherwise, someone else will. This mentality and lessons I’ve learned while at Iowa State prepared me to work with Olympic athletes and in the crazy world of sports marketing. These intangibles are proving to be extremely useful, especially right now as we have many athletes competing in Sochi and need to capitalize on the Olympic buzz and their marketability.
What is your favorite Iowa State memory?
There are too many favorite memories to name just one, but all of them involved my teammates — most likely one of our infamous theme parties!