CSULB College of Continuing and Professional Education

Real Students… Real Stories

Every year, the College of Continuing and Professional Education (CCPE) at CSULB helps over 20,000 students strive to improve their life and career opportunities through our courses and programs. Each one of these students has a story. Read more stories here.


Tori Willis
Master of Arts in Kinesiology, Option in Sport Management

As the Youth Marketing Specialist for the San Francisco 49ers, Tori Willis gets to combine her love of sports with her career. Heading into her fourth season with the team, she works on general marketing projects for the team as well as youth programs such as Kids Club and Youth Football/Play 60 initiatives. She also assists with team events like the Draft Day Party, Fan Fest, and Alumni Weekend, and is helping to develop the 49ers Museum and Hall of Fame, opening in 2014 at the new Levi’s Stadium.

Tori started the Master of Arts in Kinesiology, Option in Sport Management at CSULB in August 2009, and began an internship with the 49ers during the 2010 football season. After the internship ended, she returned to CSULB and graduated from the program in August 2011. Prior to earning her Master’s degree, Tori received a Bachelor of Science in Physical Education from the University of Arizona.

“I was looking at several Master’s degree programs across the United States that focused on Sport Management, and CSULB’s format of night classes one to two times a week with a heavy emphasis on internships intrigued me,” Tori said, explaining that she realized her freshman year at University of Arizona that she wanted to work in sports or events. “When it hit me that sports were a type of event, I was sold. I started researching graduate programs since my school didn’t offer exactly what I wanted to study,” she added.

The support staff was one of her favorite aspects of the program at CSULB. “From day one, I could go to my student advisor and business manager for anything, from academic or career questions to personal chats,” she said. She added that there were several “stellar” professors who inspired her in different ways.

The program gave Tori time to continue her studies while strengthening her resume in the industry. “It was a valuable experience in that it not only showed me what I wanted to pursue in a career in sport business, but also showed me what I didn’t want to do.” During her first year, Tori interned in the marketing department of Long Beach State Athletics as a marketing graduate assistant, and then began her internship with the 49ers. When she returned to Long Beach to finish the program, she was hired as a game-day worker in the Premium Sales department for the Los Angeles Dodgers. After graduating, she was hired back by the 49ers.

Tori said she recommends the program to “self-starters and highly motivated students who are looking to blaze their own trail.” She added: “This program is a great foundation for those who wish to pursue a career in the sport industry, but you have to put in genuine effort and time to reap all the amazing benefits the program yields.”

Tori’s advice to potential graduate students seeking a career in sports is this: “I recommend getting to know your fellow classmates, administrative staff, teachers, and professors. Volunteer at a variety of events outside your comfort zone, follow your professional intuitions, and don't be scared to narrow down your interests to find your perfect job,” Tori said. “In many cases, your ideal career is out there; you may just not know that it exists yet. Also, always write handwritten thank-you notes after interviews or meetings.”

Click here to learn more about the Sport Management Master’s program at CSULB.

Click here to watch a video about the program.

See our full list of courses here.

Read more real student stories here.