At the end of May, I was a newly-minted college grad at the University of Texas at Austin when I got a phone call that changed my life forever and set my career path into motion.
I still remember the moment like it was yesterday.
My friends and I were posing for senior photos in front of Littlefield Foundation on the UT campus when an unfamiliar number popped up on my phone. It was the Dallas Mavericks letting me know I’d been selected as a communications and events intern!
Needless to say, it was a dream come true. It felt like my years of hard work and dedication had a purpose and I felt like the happiest grad on the planet.
A short time later, I was cruising up I-35 headed to Dallas, fueled by big dreams and new beginnings, and destined for what I hoped would be the start a long-term career in professional sports.
Before my internship with the Mavericks, I had never worked for a professional team. While attending the University of Texas at Austin I worked in Texas Athletics for the football team and in the Media Relations department.
My internship with the Mavericks has been my first real exposure to working in the professional sports world.
My first day on the job was a whirlwind — I still remember walking through the Mavericks’ corporate office doors that day.
Immediately I saw a group of other interns from various departments all eager for their first day, just like me. After our morning orientation, we broke up into our departments that make up the Dallas Mavericks organization.
At our first department lunch, I took a deep breath. I was just in awe of the moment. It still feels surreal that I’m getting to learn the ins and outs of a professional sports team like the Mavs.
Making the jump from college athletics to professional athletics has been a smoother transition than I thought it would be, made easier because of my supervisors with the Mavs. Under them I have been able to ask questions, learn more about the industry and grow as a professional. Much like college sports, the professional athletic world is constantly busy, even during the off-season.
Every day there is a new project or new event. Through these projects and events, I’m able to not only ask questions but voice my view on things.
A few weeks ago, I attended the Mavericks’ summer league practice and got to watch how the players interact with the media. It’s a lot different than college in the sense that the players are all business.
Each one of them represents their own brand, corporation and identity in many ways. For the summer league players, making an NBA team would change their lives forever and you could feel the seriousness of the situation in the gym.
I’ve also been able to see the other side of the organization by attending Mavs Hoop Camps this summer, which I really enjoy. One of my favorite things about my internship is going into the Dallas community with the Mavericks.
I’ll never forget walking into one hoop camp and hearing little voices chant “Maxi! Kleber!” before seeing their eyes light up when the 6-11 player walked in to play basketball with them. The pure joy on the little girls and boys faces as they played Knockout with Maxi was unlike anything I had never seen before.
They were so excited to play with Maxi and go up to him for high fives.
Something that amazed me was how good Maxi was with the campers. He was so kind to each camper and was having the best time playing basketball with them.
Moments like this make me proud to be part of the Mavericks’ organization.
Maxi reminded me that the organization goes beyond the employees in the office or the players on the court. The Mavericks’ organization is the children at hoop camps, the fans at the games, and everyone who considers themselves a MFFL.
I’ve also spent time in the community with my fellow colleagues painting a new gym for children at a recent court dedication ceremony that forward Dwight Powell attended. Another one of my favorite moments was attending television morning show appearances with the Mavs ManiAACs.
There are so many different dimensions within the organization and the fun never stops.
My advice to young people who want to work in sports is to passionately and boldly follow your dreams. Network, work hard, be your authentic self and get outside your comfort zone.
Take chances and don’t wait until you graduate to get real-life experience. Be willing to work in your university or college athletic departments and ask lots of questions.
Most of all, be open to whatever opportunity might come your way. You never know where you could end up!
I am lucky and thankful to be part of this organization, which I truly consider a family. I can’t wait to see what the future holds.