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Kalina Machlis

San Francisco’s “Summer of Racing” has provided recent Dominican graduate Kalina Machlis with an exciting, fast-paced job within the marketing team for the 34th America’s Cup.

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As the crews battle it out on the bay for the oldest trophy in international sports, Kalina has worked alongside seasoned marketing professionals to promote the wide range of activities at America’s Cup Park, the makeshift village that has
transformed San Francisco’s Piers 27/29 into an enormous free public access park.

Kalina’s exciting summer began with a surprise note from Alison Howard, chair and assistant professor in the Department of Political Science and International Studies. Only a few weeks after graduating from Dominican with a double degree in communications and international studies, Kalina was on vacation in South America when she received an email from Howard who asked if Kalina would be interested in applying for an internship with the America’s Cup.

“Yes, I wanted this job!” Kalina recalls. “This was a dream job.”

Kalina was able to interview for the job via Skype and learned while still on vacation that the job was hers.

A lot of the work I did at Dominican has helped me with my job at America’s Cup. The relationships I had with my professors also have made a really big difference to me. The faculty I have worked with really put a lot of thought and effort into their students. They really care about their students and put in the extra time to encourage us and help us to succeed.

Hitting the ground running, Kalina found herself drawing from many lessons and experiences gained both in and out of the classroom at Dominican as she embarked on the fast-paced job with the America’s Cup marketing department.

The skills she gained while interning in events marketing for a Marin nonprofit, presenting her original research at a national conference, and working alongside faculty mentors gathering data for a project focused on voter registration all served her well in her new role.

Kalina’s work has focused on reaching out to visitors and locals in order to attract a new generation of sailboat racing fans to the America’s Cup Park. The work has been challenging, exciting, varied, and incredibly interesting – in short, everything she wants in a future career.

During her first week, she worked with the marketing team on an advertorial that appeared in the New York Times. The following week she was brought into help with behind-the-scenes coordination of a number of special events at America’s Cup Park, working on event day logistics as well as ensuring all necessary contracts were in order.  She also has helped organize a series of weekly free movie events designed to bring the general public to the park.

“I think the fact that I had no background sailing actually helped me get this job so that I could help think about ways to attract non-sailors to America’s Cup Park,” she says. “I also was able to show that I had gained skills as a student that would easily transfer to my work in the marketing department.”

Kalina has found herself immersed in work requiring research, data analysis, outreach, and creative thinking. These are among the skills she honed at Dominican, largely thanks her faculty mentors, including Howard, Gigi Gokcek, associate professor of Political Science and International Studies, and Bradley Van Alstyne, chair of Communications and Media Studies.

Indeed, Kalina’s initial interest in event marketing as a potential career grew during her internship with the Environmental Action Committee of West Marin, helping to organize the annual Point Reyes Birding and Nature Festival. The internship, which was arranged by Van Alstyne, enabled Kalina to spend both her junior and senior year helping the nonprofit group plan its signature annual event.

Kalina also gained valuable insight into data collection and analysis, as well as survey design and public opinion – all skills central to a career in marketing - when she participated in a national exit poll research project as part of the work in Howard’s “Campaigns and Elections” course.

The project was designed to examine voting differences across the country and the media’s use of exit polls. The Dominican students interviewed voters with a series of questions designed to determine voting preferences, party affiliation, and key issues that influenced their vote. The students then collected and analyzed “real time” data in order to understand not only how exit polls are conducted and reported, but also how Marin County voters fit into the broader electoral landscape.

Howard, who recalls her former student’s enthusiasm for all class projects, says she knew that Kalina would fit well with the demanding and fast-paced environment at America’s Cup.

“Kalina was a fantastic student. She really enjoyed the chance to learn new things and was always looking for ways to become involved in new projects and participate in activities on and off campus,” Howard recalls. “She would constantly seek out ways to apply what she had been studying so that she could express her interests, be exposed to exciting and creative people, and most importantly give back to her community.”

For Kalina, the experience with America’s Cup has helped her envision a future career in event management.  She already is lining up interviews for vacancies post-America’s Cup. For now, however, she’s enjoying being at the center of one of the world’s most prestigious sporting events.

 “I love this job,” she says. “I have found a career I will really enjoy, and part of this is because of my experiences at Dominican.”


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