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When I woke up on Thursday morning, I wasn’t expecting much — let alone for it to be my most exciting day in the program thus far. After all, Thursday is supposed to be an “off-day,” meaning it’s the only weekday where there are no MSBA-related activities on the agenda after work. But, if there’s anything I’ve learned so far about MSBA is that there is no such thing as an “off-day.” You always have to be prepared and on your toes because you never know who you’ll be meeting that day — even on a day where there aren’t any guest speakers scheduled.
My mentor, Melcolm Ruffin, who works at the NBA as an associate in the league’s highly-selective rotational program, was kind enough to take time out of his day to meet with me for lunch. The initial plan was for me to meet him outside of his office building at 12:30pm to go eat at a place nearby. But when I got there, he unexpectedly asked if I wanted to go upstairs and take a tour of the NBA Headquarters instead. Located in the Olympic Tower, the NBA’s New York office occupies the 14th through 20th floors.
As soon as you get off the elevator, the basketball court-esque hardwood floor that greets you in the lobby instantly reminds you that you’re entering the center of it all – where all the major basketball and corporate decisions are made. Melcolm took me around to where a few of the departments are located, including the Global Merchandising group and Global Marketing Partnerships division. After a while, we sat down to talk about career goals and the proper approach or strategy that a recent college graduate should possess.
He gave some great advice in regards to not sticking all your eggs in one basket – particularly when you’re just starting out your career. He suggested that I write out a list of priorities I have regarding to the kind of work I want to conduct in the future. Based on that list, even if a particular position/company doesn’t directly have sports clients, working there can still provide you the necessary skills and experience that can easily be transferred to the sports industry. Many times, and mainly out of fear and being misinformed, people are hesitant about taking certain positions or working in certain sectors thinking it will hinder their chances of entering the sports business later on in their careers.
While there certainly are entry barriers in every industry, skills acquired elsewhere transcend those perceived restrictions. His advice was extremely relevant to my personal situation, since I just recently graduated and am now weighing different options in terms of my next move.
As Melcolm and I wrapped up our conversation, fellow MSBA classmate Leanne Styring walked out of a meeting with her internship employer at Landmark Agency. They’re not lying when they say that the sports business community is such a small circle and you’re likely to bump into one another (literally) anywhere.
After our talk, we walked up to the cafeteria for lunch. On our way up, Melcolm introduced me to a few of his fellow NBA colleagues, including an HR representative and business development executive among others. Like I said earlier, with the amount of resources that this program provides, you just never know who you’ll unexpectedly meet and interact with on any given day.
Overall, Thursday was definitely a pleasant surprise. While I was definitely looking forward to having lunch with Melcolm and getting his take on different things, visiting the NBA headquarters and interacting with a few of the personnel there were not part of the original plans, thus, making the day even more special. As an avid fan of basketball and of the NBA’s business operations, I couldn’t help but realize how unique and rare of an opportunity I was granted.