Ball is life—at least it is for the next 10 weeks. This summer, I have the pleasure of interning for the National Basketball Association in their Global Partnerships group, headquartered in New York City. I am a rising senior double majoring in Communication Studies and Biopsychology/Cognition/Neuroscience (BCN). My unique academic endeavors and Communication Studies background helped me secure a Media Relations internship within the Athletic Department at U-M, which then helped propel me to my dream internship at the NBA.
I first heard about this a-maize-ing opportunity from former Michigan students who participated in the program and raved about their unforgettable experiences. Michigan alumni have described their jobs at the NBA as “challenging yet gratifying” and the culture as “inclusive, innovative, and inspiring.” The league’s mission statement is known as “Our Calling: compete with intensity, lead with integrity, and inspire play.” Its four core principles or “four corners of the court” are integrity, respect, teamwork, and innovation. These pillars ring true in my life, encouraging me to be the best student, team player, and person I can be. As a burgeoning business professional, I value a positive company culture, a challenging yet enjoyable job, and an empowering boss who acts as a mentor. This trifecta can be rare, but at the NBA, I have all three! I hope to continually grow both professionally and personally during my time in the Big Apple.
I work in the Global Partnerships Department, which is divided into four silos: business development, marketing solutions, global media, and account management. I focus on the account management side where I help my boss manage the NBA’s day-to-day relationships with marketing partners like Nike, Spalding, Gatorade, and Anheuser-Busch. Tasks can include anything from scheduling weekly phone call meetings with counterparts at partner companies, sending media or merchandise requests utilizing the NBA’s intellectual property through business review, ideating additional activations for upsells, or gathering assets to create a partnership renewal proposal when a contract expires. In short, we make sure deliverables in a contract are fulfilled to satisfy and even surpass partners’ expectations. My time as a Communication Studies major has allowed me to sharpen my communication skills and attention to detail, which are essential to this role. My Communication Studies degree will undoubtedly set me up for future success.
Throughout this well-structured internship, we will work at the NBA Draft in Brooklyn, collaborate on a group project called the Think Tank Project (where my team will search for key insights and best practices relating to the NBA’s digital and social media presence), and give back to the community during NBA Cares social responsibility events. I am also looking forward to other educational programming like the Executive Speaker Series where we will interact with and ask questions to NBA leaders, including Commissioner Adam Silver and Mark Tatum, Deputy Commissioner and Chief Operating Officer.
Some advice to other students: don’t give up after being rejected. Everyone faces it. My frustration made me hungrier. Harness this energy for the next opportunity, and then sell yourself. Lastly, network! The importance of networking is constantly emphasized for a reason. Don’t be afraid to step outside your comfort zone. Set up informational meetings with people in various departments. I do this in order to better understand how a company operates holistically and how its departments work together cross-functionally.
New York may be a big city, but I have a whopping six fellow Wolverine interns by my side at the NBA (as well as numerous Michigan alumni). The Block M is everywhere, so reach out to alumni in your company or those nearby. You may even find a few mentors in friendly alumni who can deeply influence your life in a positive way. Forever Go Blue!