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Learning the Business of Sports with the Golden State Warriors

What is it like to work in professional sports? This month, twelve 6th and 8th graders from Girls Inc. of Alameda County found out when they participated the Future Leaders Experience hosted by the Golden State Warriors in partnership with Rakuten.

Over the course of two days, girls were paired with female mentors from the Warriors staff who introduced them to a wide variety of sports careers from game day operations, to film production, sideline reporting, and community relations. Not only did they learn about jobs they hadn’t considered, the girls practiced their professional development skills, such as active listening, asking questions, making eye contact, and speaking clearly. The girls saw the staff in action at the Warriors offices and the Rakuten Performance Center and, on game day, they shadowed their mentors at Oracle Arena where they saw what it was like to work backstage during a game.

Special guest Lindsay Gottlieb, Head Coach of the UC Berkeley Women’s Basketball Team, spoke about important skills and characteristics to cultivate as a student and in business: personal responsibility, drive, curiosity, and teamwork.

As a surprise from Rakuten, the girls were treated to a shopping spree at Nordstrom where they learned about dressing for the workplace, and how to pick clothes to fit different business settings. The girls were all smiles when paired with a stylist and each left with a business casual outfit, including shoes and accessories, to wear during their shadowing day.

On game day at Oracle Arena, the girls participated in a panel discussion led by Adrienne Coulson, COO of Rakuten, and Sonya Curry, mother of Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry. The panel discussed the importance of mentorship and the power of women lifting each other up and the girls peppered the speakers with questions like, “what kinds of things can you ask a mentor?”, “will a mentor actually answer my questions?”, “can I ask a mentor to introduce me to other people at her work?”

WNBA star Candace Parker participated on the panel and had this to say after the event, “I was so impressed with the girls today. They sat in the front row, put their phones away, made unbroken eye contact, and asked great questions. It was a pleasure to get to know them and I hope they consider sports as a possible career path.”

After meetings with her mentor and participating in the two day event, one 8th grader said, “I didn’t know there were any women in sports. I just thought the only thing you could do was play!”