Q&A – Joe Mattson, NBA Intern

Joe Mattson has a National Basketball Association internship.

While completing a ten week internship at the league office in New York City, we asked Mattson some questions about his role assisting in the Marketing and Media Department as well as the Marketing Properties Group. He reports directly to the Director of Marketing Partnerships and Properties.

Talk about the process that led you to your internship. How did you make the initial contacts and what did you do to foster those relationships?

I learned about my internship through a friend from college. The hiring manager had asked a friend of hers if he knew anyone that would be a good fit, and that friend passed on the info to my college friend, who thought of me. I e-mailed a cover letter and resume directly to the hiring manager, and a hand-written thank you note with an Oregon logo bottle opener to my college friend. I heard from the hiring manager a few days later, and we set up a phone interview. At the conclusion of that interview, we arranged a second interview with another member of the Marketing Properties group for a few days later. I followed up on both of those interviews with hand-written thank you notes including my Oregon MBA business card. I was contacted by the hiring manager a couple of days later and told that I was a finalist for the position. My final interview took place via video conference with a member of the NBA HR staff. The day after that interview, the hiring manager called and offered me the job. I explained that I was still very interested but considering other options and asked for three days to think it over. She then called back the next day and increased the amount of the initial offer, which I accepted.  

What are your primary responsibilities at the NBA?

My job this summer is to develop a strategic direction for the NBA’s experiential marketing activities for 2007 and beyond, and present my recommendations at the end of the summer. The project includes a complete competitive analysis of the experiential marketing landscape, involving primary and secondary research. I’ve conducted interviews with staff members from multiple internal departments, as well as with several external marketing agencies. I’ve also conducted on-site research at several of the NBA’s experiential marketing events.

What are your career goals as you see them now? How well does your internship align with those goals?

I plan to direct sports marketing strategy for one (or several) of the world’s major brands, one either the client side of the business or the agency side of the business. My experience this summer fits in very well with that goal, as understanding the ‘œsell’ side of sports sponsorship (which is what the NBA does) will help me understand the ‘œbuy’ side of sports sponsorship that much better.

How do you plan to use your experience at the NBA to leverage the next steps in your career? What key takeaways can you use to market yourself to future employers?

How do I plan to leverage my experience at the NBA?

  • Stay in touch with my contacts here to discuss job leads throughout the coming year
  • Secure letters of recommendation from my key contacts here this summer
  • Reach out to NBA agency and client contacts during my time here to establish relationships that I can call upon during my job search in the coming year
  • Work to identify an independent study project I can conduct for the league during the 2nd year of my MBA studies, as a way of maintaining my connection here and further broadening my experience

The key takeaways from this summer that I’ll focus on to market myself include:

  • Successfully completed of an ambitious and independent project under a tight timeline (10 weeks)
  • Delivered a strategic plan that was actually implemented and used to generate incremental revenue as well as to support a new brand position for the league
  • Enjoyed Executive level access and interaction on a daily basis
  • Able to interact directly with Clients and Agencies, allowing me to understand their businesses better

What do you like most about your internship? Least?

I love the fact that I’m working directly with several Executives at the league on a long-term strategic project. I’m not simply implementing or executing an already developed plan, I’m part of the development of an entirely new plan. I also very much respect my direct supervisor, and enjoy working with her. And I truly feel that my work and input is valued and will be considered in the development of the league’s overall marketing strategy going forward.

The downside is that working independently so much doesn’t allow for the kind of creative discussion and brainstorming that this project needs. To make that happen, I’ve had to proactively reach out to other key people internally, which has turned into a positive as I’ve been able to interact with multiple departments.

The only real downside is that finding living arrangements in New York for the summer can be a challenge, and I would prefer to be saving a little more of my paycheck each month instead of putting it toward rent.

Are you being paid? If so, how much?

$650/week distributed twice a month.

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