If your handles, athleticism and jump shot aren’t good enough to get you to the NBA, don’t worry, there are other ways you can make it to the league.
The Future Sales Stars Program, which launched in October of 2020, is helping recent college graduates achieve their hoop dreams.
“We wanted to create a program that not only provides job opportunities for underrepresented groups, but also provides them with the skills, resources and connections to thrive when they enter the industry,” said Mike Taylor, Associate Vice President for the NBA League Office.
This six-month program introduces students into the world of corporate partnerships and ticket sales, providing participants with mentorship, networking and development opportunities while working with guest speakers and trainers.
“To be in a room like almost every week with literally every team and be connected with other students who were trying to do the same thing I was doing … my mind was blown,” said Kenya Jones, who landed a job with the Atlanta Hawks after completing the program. “We had the opportunity to talk to people from the entire league, which was crazy. The exposure we got kind of gave me the reassurance that when I walked away from the program, I was going to have a job.
“I just knew I had to utilize this opportunity to the best of my ability.”
The program, which promotes diversity, connects leaders in the ticket sales and corporate partnerships fields with the next generation of executives in revenue-making roles.
“It is a blessing. From the curriculum to being able to come in every week and hear from different team executives about revenue driving whether its ticket sales or corporate partnerships or partnership activation,” said RJ Peacock, who now works for the Golden State Warriors. “I got a really good understanding of how money is made in NBA programs. It was great to be able to interact with other young professionals.
“The different coaches in the programs would ask questions and help us answer them and put us through different trainings. We were learning in the program outside of teaching us the X’s and O’s of how things work … It felt like a scouting combine in many ways.”
Besides being more prepared than other people going out for the same positions, the Future Stars Sales Program helped participants form key relationships with soon-to-be co-workers and employers. Those relationships are the reason that so many of the people who came through the program are thriving in their current roles.
“I went to a small school, so it was really great in terms of building a network,” said Mia Len, who works for the Milwaukee Bucks. “I met so many people through the league office and beyond and that was really nice. The program taught me the basics of the business of sports. It gave me the foundation I needed to start off in the industry. By getting the proper education from literally the best in the business – I knew this is where I was meant to be.”
Len has some advice for anyone thinking of applying for the Future Stars Sales Program.
“I’ve held three roles within the Bucks and what I learned has been very applicable,” Len said. “Whoever gets the opportunity to be in the program should do it because if you do it right, you’re setting yourself up for a lifetime of success.”