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From Student to Staff: A PCR alum's journey into business and athletics

When Johliel Austin graduated from Providence Cristo Rey in 2018, he was ready to take on college and the world beyond. What he didn’t know was that his days at PCR were not over yet.

A senior at U-Indy, Johliel’s path has been shaped more by his years at PCR than he would have thought possible. The connections began when he switched CWS jobs at the beginning of his senior year and began working at Elements Financial, an employer-based credit union. After a year working at Dow AgroSciences and then two at August Mack Environmental, he was ready for a change. When PCR’s CWS staff members got Johliel connected to the business development team at Elements, the staff there quickly saw his potential and began to invest in the young intern.

“As someone who hires people, when you find someone who is a good worker, who has all of the characteristics you want, you keep them, mold them, shape them into the employee you want, even if they’re a 19-year-old intern,” Abbey Askew, Johliel’s former Career Mentor said, as she recalled Johliel’s first year at the company.

“Anything I put in front of him would get done,” Askew said. And I just knew – we’ve got to keep this kid.”

Johliel’s hard work at the company rapidly made an impression on his team at Elements. Although he was initially shy, Askew remembers how Johliel began to emerge from his shell, especially as the team began taking him to client meetings and introducing him to different departments in the company.

“He started taking initiative with things – it was really cool to see him volunteer for opportunities, or just get things done without me asking him. He started really stepping up to fill in the gaps. He was very important in the support role on our team, helping all of us do our jobs.”

The company’s investment paid off.

“I had always been interested in money and business,” Johliel said. “The summer after I graduated from Providence, they offered me a chance to come back and work during the week so that I could continue the projects I had been working on. I started going three days a week during the summer and then took the offer to stay on part time when I started at U-Indy.”

The staff at Elements began introducing Johliel to the various departments of the company to see what the best fit for his skillset would be. From business development, to marketing, to loan servicing where he currently works, Johliel was able to put into practice the skills he was learning in his business administration classes in school.


Back in the Pack

During his second semester sophomore year, Johliel again decided to make a change, this time in his college major.

“The business classes seemed too easy for me,” Johliel explained. “I would have ended up graduating early, so I decided to challenge myself and do sports management, which is still in large part business.”

As luck would have it, not long after, the road back to PCR opened up in a surprising way.

“One day I was walking back from the gym on campus and I got a call from Mr. Jansen,” Johliel recalled. “And he was like - hey, how’s college going? I’m calling because this upcoming year I’m looking for an assistant coach and I was wondering if you would be interested.”

Johliel had played baseball all four years at Providence, in addition to a year of basketball and wrestling, and was eager to reunite with his former coach. Johliel accepted Mr. Jansen’s offer and spent last summer helping him to coach a travel baseball team.

“The experience really helped me see that I have a passion, not just for sports, but to see success in other people,” Johliel said.

With that summer fresh in his mind, when it came time to find a place to complete the 600-hour internship requirement of his sports management degree, Johliel knew that PCR was the place where he wanted to be.

“I thought of no better place that needed the help, seeing as we only have two people in our Athletic Department,” Johliel explained. “So, I came back here and talked to Mr. Dishman about helping out this semester and possibly this summer."

Going from athlete to staff member, Johliel has had the chance to see how much there is to juggle within an athletic department. But, ever the hard worker, his assistance has already been a huge asset to the team at PCR.


Facing the Future

With only a semester left before graduation, Johliel has been exploring ways to pursue his twin passions of business and sports management.

First and foremost on his mind is a desire to continue working at Elements Financial, and luckily, the feeling is mutual.

“Our CEO approached me a couple of months ago and asked me to work with him to see what we can do to transform his work now into a full-time position,” Askew, who is the AVP of Business Development at the company, revealed.

“I doubt Johliel ever thought he would work in banking when he was a kid,” she said. “But he wanted something that would allow him to have a life outside of work. Finding something that allows you to have the life you want is part of becoming a responsible adult. Johliel has always been a self-starter and more mature than many of his peers. Since he began working with us, he understood what an opportunity was and how to capitalize on it.”

Johliel looks forward to the possibility of staying with Elements and hopes that securing a full-time position will allow him to continue pursuing his passion for athletics.

“If I can get a job directly out of school, I will definitely look at assistant coaching, ideally for baseball or basketball,” he said.

In the meantime, the Providence community is glad to have him walking the Wolf Pack hallways once again.


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