Mario Hollands Earned an Online Degree While Playing Professional Baseball
Bay Area native Mario Hollands was first exposed to retail when he worked at Abercrombie & Fitch during high school. After receiving a scholarship to play baseball at UC Santa Barbara, he was drafted by the Minnesota Twins during his junior year and the Philadelphia Phillies. After receiving a B.A. in Sociology, he played for the Phillies from 2010 to 2017, including two seasons at the Major League level. During his baseball career, Mario applied to FIDM to study Merchandising & Marketing, which he did entirely online, and graduated in 2015. He then worked as a Production Intern at Kendall + Kylie in Los Angeles and Sample Coordinator at Levi Strauss & Co. Today, Mario is an Assistant Buyer at Pottery Barn. We recently chatted with the former professional athlete about his unique story.
Tell us a little about yourself: I grew up in a small town next to Berkeley, California called El Cerrito. I played every sport growing up and as I got into high school I began to concentrate solely on baseball. I was very fortunate to accept a baseball scholarship to UC Santa Barbara and went on to have a good career in college. I played from 2010 to 2017 in the Phillies organization and played on the Major League level for two seasons. Unfortunately, I tore a ligament in my throwing elbow during a game in Atlanta and had to have surgery. This required two years of rehabilitation on my elbow in Tampa, Florida in the effort to make a comeback. After seven years on the East Coast, my baseball career came to an end and I came back to San Francisco.
Tell us about your current position and responsibilities: I work as one of the buyers on the Pottery Barn Outlet team and help develop business strategies and seasonal assortment plans to maximize sales and profits. This includes helping to identify opportunities and recommend new products and concepts for our team. I help lead the social media accounts for the Pottery Barn Outlet division and contribute to the email marketing.
Why did you choose FIDM? I always wanted to attend FIDM but I was unsure if I could during my baseball career. A friend from UCSB, who attended FIDM after we graduated, gave me outstanding endorsements on her experience and why I should also choose FIDM.
How do you feel FIDM prepared you for what you are doing now? I learned so much from all my courses that I continue to use today. From Merchandising Strategies and Trend Analysis to Applied Buying, I have been able to apply so much of what I learned through the eLearning program.
What went into your decision to enroll in FIDM's online learning program? I was unsure if I would be able to participate in the eLearning program because my baseball schedule and travel were so intense. The counselors and advisors at FIDM were extremely helpful in weighing all my options and the eLearning program was clearly the best option for me. And thankfully Merchandising & Marketing was one of the two majors I was interested in.
Tell us about your online learning experience -- what was the best part? I really enjoyed the collaboration with other students during projects and activities in class. Because I was constantly traveling for baseball it helped me feel like I was part of a real classroom and made the online learning experience a much smoother transition.
Any advice for current FIDM Students who are experiencing online classes for the first time? Don’t be afraid to ask questions no matter how small they may seem. I was hesitant to do so when I first began because I felt out of place as a baseball player. Professors and classmates were eager to help or give advice with any questions or problems I had.
What is your biggest goal right now? Continuing to learn from my peers, managers, and friends throughout my team and company. I believe there is so much more to learn.
FIDM has been offering eLearning courses and entire majors online for over 15 years. We’ve been able to build on that foundation to deliver a true FIDM experience for our students currently experiencing an online-only quarter. FIDM's holistic approach focuses on academics, research, student activities, and career planning. Please contact FIDM Admissions to apply.