UCF Alumnus Scores Big in his Career Thanks to Life Changing Advice

Jon Hanson

As an 80’s kid, one can only dream of going to work every day and working with video games. For Jon Hanson, ’12, this dream is a reality and he couldn’t be happier with his career. As a Product Manager for EA Sports Orlando, Hanson helps guide players through their end-to-end journey, from the time they first hear about a game, to six months after they start playing, and beyond. He does this through marketing digital content for Madden NFL, Madden NFL Mobile, and NBA LIVE.

Hanson explained his favorite things about his job is not only working on sports and video games every day, but also working with a team that is incredibly supportive of one another. Hanson explained that EA provides incredible opportunities for growth, learning, and bettering life.

While Hanson was pursuing his bachelor’s degree in advertising and public relations at UCF, he learned many valuable lessons. But he said the best piece of advice he ever received was to be true to himself and his passions. As a student studying communication, Hanson worried about fitting into a stereotypical mold of corporate life, until he was told that trying to be someone you aren’t will only turn people off. This advice has paid off in Hanson’s personal and professional life.

From mentoring with the talent casting coordinator of Walt Disney World to the CEO of a full-service advertising agency, Hanson has actively seized opportunity throughout his young career. He shared some important advice for students trying to reach their highest potential:

When there’s opportunity, grab it. Take extra time after class with your professors. Get involved with clubs, network, and take internships, even if they’re unpaid. It will pay off in the long run in more ways than you can imagine. Invest in your future; the short-term sacrifice will become a future gain that you’ll never be able to measure,” advised Hanson.

Hanson continued by answering some more questions about his time at UCF.

Why did you choose to attend UCF?

My Dad, Dr. Ken Hanson, teaches at UCF – along with my brother Pieter (who proudly serves in the Navy) convinced me that UCF was my best opportunity to reach my potential.

How has your UCF degree helped you in your career?

The Ad-PR program gave me all of the tools and provided me many opportunities to succeed. The classes provided real world experience and showcased best practices that were relevant and topical. UCF provided excellent programs, workshops and more to set myself up for success. Beyond that, and possibly even more important, they set me up to build relationships and work at internships that gave me unparalleled access to the world of professional careers.

Have you stayed involved with UCF since graduation? If so, how?

I am actively working to become more involved and help pay it forward to the university that provided me so much. I’m currently working on an internship program to bring highly qualified students into an incredible learning environment at EA.

What is your most memorable experience on the job?

Working on an idea from product manager Tom Lischke that started over a dinner conversation, and playing a part in making it a reality. Tom’s vision of making Ultimate Team an e-Sport and then watching the entire team’s execution showed me the immense level of talent, passion and opportunity that’s housed at EA. Since then, the most competitive players in the world have become involved, and even athletes such as Cam Newton (Quarterback of the Carolina Panthers) took part in a recent tournament. Seeing everyone’s work come together and its ensuing results was incredibly rewarding from a personal and professional standpoint.

What piece of advice would you give to UCF alumni?

Pay it forward; Help those in need; Find a cause; Reach out to students; Give them advice; and carve some time out of your day to help. Participate in an ice bucket challenge or wear a pink ribbon or a mustache for Movember. As alumni, we are fortunate to have a college education, especially one from UCF. Giving back is one of the most impactful things you can do for yourself and for others. Just be good to the world and the people around you.

We also asked Hanson some fun questions to get to know him better.

What do you do for fun?

Music is my other passion. I love to sing, play guitar, go to concerts and let loose at karaoke. I also love to travel and experience new things as well as learn from other people. I like to step outside of my comfort zone and experience life from a different point of view. Oh, and I enjoy video games and sports, as well as supporting my alma mater. – Go Knights!

What is the last movie you watched?

Guardians of the Galaxy, and it was awesome! The movie had a great combination of action, humor, and story. I don’t want to spoil anything, but wait for the dance off.

Who is your favorite musician/band?

That’s an unfair question, since I told you that I love music. If I had to choose, I would break it down to these three:

Beatles – Duh. What separates them from other musicians is that their music stands the test of time. 10,000 years from now people will still be able to understand and emotionally connect to their music.

Queen – Same deal. Their music is timeless. Freddy Mercury is (in my opinion) the greatest vocalist of all time, and he never took a music lesson in his life. He was born to sing, and the rest of the band (Looking at you Brian May) created some of the most epic music ever created. I will never get tired of Bohemian Rhapsody, and I would bet you haven’t either.

Michael Jackson – He is the king of pop. I was imitating the moonwalk at the age of 7. His music is another great example of timeless music that will stand the test of time.

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