NIU alumnus now ‘Ticketmaster Jr.’

By Rachel Gorr

Everyone wonders what life will be like once they finish up with their degrees and enter the real world.

Will the world be yours for the taking? Will you fail miserably and live in your parent’s basement until you’re 40? Will you be extremely successful, become too power-hungry, go mad, lose everything and then still end up living in the basement? Well, for some NIU grads, life after NIU has been a walk in the park, or shall we say a walk in the arena.

Phil Chihoski graduated from NIU in 1990 with a degree in sports business, which is now equivalent to sports marketing. For the past 15 years, he has been working at Allstate Arena, working his way through the ranks to become the director of marketing and sales at Allstate Arena and Rosemont Theater in Rosemont.

Chihoski was fortunate enough to find his dream job straight out of college by way of an internship.

“I did my internship here,” Chihoski said. “I grew up in Rosemont and I got a degree in sports business and [Allstate Arena] looked like a good venue to try out and see if I liked it.”

Since then, Chihoski has never looked back. While he started as an intern, he was hired officially as the director of events. He was then promoted to assistant marketing director and then promoted again about nine years ago to his current position as director of marketing and sales; a position which is really just a combination of his previous jobs.

“Through all those years they never hired anyone else, so now I do all of those jobs,” Chihoski said. “In any similar venue, there’s probably four to 10 people doing my job.”

It’s no wonder Chihoski’s job includes a wide variety of activities. On any given day, he finds himself doing anything from running events to filling the skyboxes.

“There is always something new coming into town or a new sponsor,” Chihoski said. “I don’t have to be on a time clock, I just have to make sure that my job gets done. It’s very flexible.”

Still, Chihoski makes time to come back and visit his alma mater several times each year, be it to catch a football game or just visit friends.

Chihoski is grateful for what NIU gave him, although he says while he was prepared in certain ways for the real world, he was not prepared for the everyday hustle and bustle working environment and how the entertainment industry functions. There are certain things students need to know if they plan on making it in his world.

“There’s nothing more important than your word,” Chihoski said. “If you say you’re going to do something, you definitely have to do it. You have to speak the truth all the time.”

His best advice for current NIU students is to get their foot in the door as soon as possible, preferably their freshman year if they are serious. If you make it, however, Chihoski warns not to be surprised if all of a sudden you are the world’s best friend because of your new job.

“Everybody and their brother calls you and expects you to get them tickets,” he said. “I like to call myself ‘Ticketmaster Jr.’”