From Tusks to Longhorns: How Two Tufts Soccer Teammates Took A Leap of Faith to Take on Texas
What are student-athletes’ biggest fears? When it comes to transitioning away from sports maybe it’s that you are going to graduate without a job lined up. Maybe it’s that you are going to get a job but you have to figure everything out on your own. No doubt, the transition can be challenging, And there are certainly a lot of fears associated with no longer being an athlete. But not everything is sports is comfortable, second nature, or routine for athletes until they actually experience it.
I had the pleasure of meeting Chandler Quintin and Mariah Brown - Tufts’ Soccer alums. As soccer players, Mariah was always a speedy goal scorer and Chandler a patient passer. These different styles of play mirror their individual approaches to life after sports as Mariah quickly transitioned to Finance, while Chandler took some time after college before entering the marketing world. Instead of tackling the transition individually, they took on Texas as a team and have experienced life after Tufts together. We spoke to them about helping each other on and off the field, taking a leap of faith, and their move to Texas early in their careers.
How did you two meet?
We were both recruited to play soccer at Tufts, so we met the first day of preseason freshman year. There were only 4 freshmen on the team, and we were too busy with soccer in the fall to socialize much with anyone else, so we spent most of our time together from the get-go.
So how did you two end up in Texas?
Mariah: After graduating, I moved to New York for a 2-month internship at a hedge fund called Beach Point Capital (BPC). The NY Partner, Michael Haynes, actually went to Tufts and played soccer for the men’s team. What was supposed to be a summer internship got extended somewhat indefinitely, and I ended up staying there for 6 months, while still pursuing other job opportunities. One of the LA BPC partners offered to send my resume around to some of his contacts, and I told him I was open to any location. Eventually, I landed an interview with Castle Hill Partners, a real estate private equity, and moved to Austin 3 weeks later!
Chandler: Oh boy. I worked at a film & photography workshop in Maine the summer before senior year and the summer after graduation. Since it was a seasonal job, I started searching for a job in marketing or advertising in Boston or New York starting in September. I struggled to find something since I didn’t have any direct experience in that industry--most places wanted at least a related internship. When Mariah took the job in Austin, I had been more or less unemployed for 3 months. Naturally, I was getting antsy. Between that, never having left Boston, lots of career opportunities in Austin, and having little holding me back to Boston, I decided to move to Austin with her! I figured if I didn’t find a serious job I was interested in right away, I could always waitress for a bit. Once I came down in January, the stars aligned, and a whiskey distillery that Mariah was working closely with had an open position for a marketing associate. She referred me, I hit it off with the founder and CEO, and I’ve been loving my job for a month now!
In what ways did Tufts Soccer and your experience as college teammates translate to your lives now in Texas?
Mariah: I think our friendship is certainly connected to our history playing soccer together. We’re actually very different people, but soccer is one thing we will always share a love for. I think some of the disciplines and values inherent to college athletics probably played a role in getting us both to move here. As a varsity athlete, you’re constantly expected to test your comfort zones (new leadership roles, physical/mental toughness), and that prepares you to take on new challenges with courage and grit.
Chandler: As Mariah said, we’re very different--and that carries over to the type of soccer players we are. She’s a speedy goal scorer, and I’m a less speedy passer. But in addition to having the same core disciplines and values that all college athletes have, we, more so than others, have a similar attitude towards our sport. We’re extremely intense and ruthless on the field, but we play for the love of the game and live balanced, goofy lives. That certainly carries over to our work lives now. My employer told me a big reason she hired me was that I was a college athlete, so she trusted that I had a good work ethic.
How did you feel when you moved to Texas? Were you more excited or nervous about such a big move?
Mariah: I think I was more nervous about the job change than going to a new city. I spent my previous summer in Berlin, where I knew nobody and didn’t speak a word of German, and loved the challenge of being alone and adapting to a new culture. Austin seemed a lot more doable than that. My 6-month stint at the hedge fund was an incredible learning experience--but the role jump from an intern to the only analyst at a PE real estate investment firm is enormous. All of my work at BPC went through 2 other analysts before it was presented to any one higher up, so it was very daunting (albeit rewarding) to be thrown into so much responsibility.
Chandler: I was so excited! But also nervous! But mostly excited! I saw it as a new adventure. As someone who can be antisocial, I was surprisingly excited by the challenge of making friends in a city I knew only one person. Probably because I had been home with my parents for three months prior to that! I was very nervous about finding a job and my expenses. I’m a very practical person, conservative with my spending and didn’t have much savings, so it wasn’t an easy decision. At the end of the day, I couldn’t ease that fear by planning in detail my budget but just by trusting that if that’s what I wanted, I would work hard enough to make it work.
Why did you take the leap of faith?
Mariah: I think my mindset was that I had nothing too serious tying me to New York. I knew that I would be happy in a new place as long as I liked my job and was moving to a vibrant city, so it didn’t feel that risky coming here.
Chandler: Ditto. I figured it was the perfect time to finally leave Mass if I was ever going to. At the end of the day, my decision was made because of just how excited I was by the prospect of moving to Austin. Something had felt off about staying in Boston, and I immediately felt things line into place when Mariah told me she was heading out there.
As former teammates, has there been a specific time when you helped each other out of a tough time?
Mariah: I think it’s pretty rare to have a friend take a huge risk and move to a new city without yet having a job. My life in Austin would be completely different if I had moved on my own, so I’m really grateful we both went for it.
Chandler: This move was definitely the biggest. I had a very difficult senior spring and fall after graduation, and Mariah went above and beyond to make this move work--partly because she selfishly, understandably wanted a friend with her, but largely because she knew it would move my life and mental health in a good direction. One other thing comes to mind… I had a Staph infection that kept me out of classes and my senior season for 3 weeks. The whole team was AMAZINGLY supportive in showing how much they cared and missed me. Among the care packages, thoughtful cards and great visits, my favorite pick-me-up was when my senior class dressed up as “Septic Chan” for our legendary Halloween practice. Kinda weird, but it made me feel so included and loved.
What have you learned through this transition to adulthood/business?
Mariah: I think it’s really common to have this perception growing up that once you reach a certain age or adulthood that you just magically get your s**t together. Nothing that radical changes when you graduate college, and I think it’s okay to give yourself some breathing room to make mistakes.
Chandler: Transitions are difficult for most people, and being uncertain about what’s next makes it harder. I have never been anywhere close to facing an uncertainty that huge and immediate. Though it sucked to go through, it definitely made me a stronger person. I didn’t know anything about the liquor industry, and now I may spend my entire career here. Everyone tells you don’t stress if you don’t know what you want to do yet and that careers are filled with twists and turns. I knew that--I heard countless stories to back it up. But I think it’s nearly impossible to have that peace without experiencing it firsthand. Although I’ll probably still feel the same horrible way the next time I’m faced with that huge of an uncertainty.
What Advice would you give yourself if you could go back in time and talk to Junior-Year-you?
Mariah: Take advantage of connections/clubs and alumni networks. I ended up choosing an internship after college which was certainly not a traditional route, thanks to an alumni connection. I didn’t have a strong background in finance, and I knew I had to start somewhere if that was the career path I wanted. I think if anyone looked at my four years at Tufts they would be surprised where I ended up. I studied environmental science and declared Econ late into my sophomore year. Most of my internships were with non-profits or on the sustainability side of things, which goes to show that our backgrounds and experience don’t always predetermine a set path. I would just stay open-minded to new experiences and say yes to as many opportunities as possible. My internship at Beach Point taught me more in 6 months that I knew to be possible, and the support from the partners is the reason I got my foot in the door at my new job. Also— take accounting.
On the social side of things, I think it’s really important to meet people outside of your sports team. Of course I love all my teammates and appreciate their individuality, but I think it’s natural for that space to become a bit of an echo chamber given the time we all spend together. I’ve always believed that we’re a product of our surroundings (and the people we surround ourselves with), so the more diversity and exposure you can get to other people with different passions and interests the better. That’s something I wish I had told my freshman self.
Chandler: Take accounting! I loved my liberal arts education, but I wish I had a few more hard skills. Take more classes that give you those. At the same time, though, take more classes that you’re just genuinely interested in (not intro classes though! I found them to be too surface level to really enjoy). I usually chose classes concerned about ones that might lower my GPA, but at the end of the day, I did best in the classes that I actually cared about! Now that I’ve graduated, there’s so much I want to learn, and I feel silly to have thought of classes as such a burden. I’ve found that if I’m not interested in learning about a subject, I probably won’t need to know it for the job I want. Don’t follow that completely, but it’s a good thing to keep in mind in a lot of cases.
Along those lines, cultivate your other interests outside of sports. My hyperfocus on sports throughout my youth kept me from pursuing many other hobbies. I’ve always had an affinity for film and television but didn’t decide to dive deeper into that until junior year, which was a bit too late to dive too into it. I am so grateful for my internship I did with film during a couple of summers ago. The summer is a great time to explore careers and interests (DEFINITELY take full advantage of that--I wish I had started sophomore summer), but also be aware of opportunities during the school year as well. It can feel overwhelming adding something onto your academic and athletic workload, but we’re D3 and experience matters more than GPA (often) anyway. I personally didn’t push myself out of my comfort zone enough for that, but most Tufts students don’t have that problem.
I would tell me not to stress, but like I said, not much you can do about that except pile on the comforting alumni success stories. Just be as proactive as you can about exploring careers and interests. Let it come from a place of curiosity and excitement, though--not fear and obligation.