When I went to interview for my job at the NBA, I didn’t know what to expect. I always dreamed of being in the NBA, but never expected to find myself in a conference room in New York answering questions about how I could help the business. Like many, I wanted to play in the NBA, but recognized my physical limitations wayyyyy before stepping on grounds, but knew I wanted to be working with/on something I’m passionate about.

I was interviewing for a spot in the NBA’s Associate Program, a 2-year program, consisting of four 6-month assignments in different departments within the NBA. I spent hours and hours learning everything I could about the company. Naturally, as a big basketball fan, I could name you award winners, how many teams there were, how long the league has existed etc., but at the end of the day, I had to convince them to hire me. We were required to give a presentation to a room of 6-8 Senior NBA employees on why we were good candidates for the position. As I prepared for my presentation, I realized that my biggest selling point was the diverse experiences I’ve had within Batten. For a program that requires such a wide range of skills to succeed, I was able to leverage what I’ve done in the multitude of classes offered within Batten and speak to how transferrable that knowledge was. I had experience presenting in front of large groups, analyzing data and applying it to real world context, writing LOTS of policy memos, but all of this is what allowed me not only to feel comfortable during the interview process, but gave me great foundational skills to build upon over the past two years at the NBA.

In sitting down to write this piece, it of course made me think back to my most memorable Batten experience, my 4th year capstone class. In Professor Martin’s capstone, we worked as a class to identify key issues in our community that were being affected by policy. My group (Daria, Kevin, and Chandler, shout out to yall!) was tasked with analyzing the issue of homelessness in the Charlottesville community. We interviewed numerous people trying to get our heads around which organizations and individuals were working to eradicate homelessness in this city. As we spent more time hearing from stakeholders, it became evident that there were so many people involved in trying to make Charlottesville a city that working to provide each person a permanent home.

As I’m trying to learn more about New York City and help better this community, my experience during my capstone project is what has motivated me to stay involved through NBA Cares, our Social Responsibility program at the NBA. New York is currently my home, and similar to the many people we interviewed and met in Charlottesville, I want to be able to help make a difference in lives here. Through volunteering, I’ve been lucky to get a chance to interact with New Yorkers of all ages, shapes, and sizes, and I’m starting to feel more comfortable in a new place.

These past 6 years have been incredibly rewarding and have helped lay a foundation that I can continue to build on for the rest of my life. One thing has built on another, as Batten has afforded me the opportunity to have a job I love right out of college. My two years in the Associate Program have prepared me to contribute at a high level at the NBA and beyond. I’m excited for what the future holds and I can’t thank my fellow classmates, administrators and professors at Batten enough for helping me live out a dream.

Alum in Action: Michael Russell (BA '16)