From backboards to the boardroom

Vincent LaGuardia, ’14, lands dream summer internship with National Basketball Association

By Nick Alexopulos
Vincent LaGuardia, '14, on the NBA Draft stage at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y.

Vincent LaGuardia,

There are few spectacles in sports as high-profile as the NBA draft. Drawing international attention and nearly 3 million television viewers in primetime, this one annual event—and the decisions teams make during it—can make or break franchises and rewrite basketball history. Fortunes are at stake.

Now imagine the pressure on the people responsible for producing it.

That’s what Vincent LaGuardia, ’14, has been working on this summer. The communication major/international business minor from Wyckoff, N.J., is four weeks into a 10-week internship in the live programming and entertainment department at the NBA’s league offices in Manhattan and Secaucus, N.J., where he’s tasked with lending a hand with everything from marquee events to merchandizing to business operations. He’s one of only 40 college students from all over the world fortunate enough to land the gig.

“I’m so fortunate,” said LaGuardia. “I love sports, there’s nothing like it, it’s the most exciting, thrilling, unpredictable thing in the world – better than any reality TV show.”

In preparation for the June 27 draft at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y., LaGuardia has helped craft and distribute related promotional communication and he worked behind the scenes with NBA staff that produces the show. He’s also interacted with fans and produced video highlights.

“The level of excitement is difficult to explain. It’s unreal,” said LaGuardia.

He didn’t have an inside track to this prestigious internship. He doesn’t know anyone with strong connections to the league. He entered the same applicant pool as everyone else and went through an extensive series of interviews over a period of months. His prior experience interning with the Baltimore Blast and working for Loyola athletics gave him an edge, but he attributes this success in large part to his Loyola education.

The NBA wanted interns who were eager for new challenges and understood the value of innovation and the critical thinking required to pursue it, says LaGuardia. Loyola students are a natural fit for those qualifications.

Look no further than LaGuardia’s interdisciplinary educational foundation. He chose to major in communication because it’s an emerging, increasingly relevant industry with constant disruption; he added the international business minor to complete a skill set that would prepare him for a career in sports management, a path he’s been on for as long as he can remember.

“I’m not an all-star athlete, I’m not the next LeBron James, but I knew I had a firm grasp and a great knowledge of the business side of the game, and that’s what really appealed to me,” said LaGuardia.

He acknowledges it’s a competitive field, but he welcomes the competition.

“For me, the first thing you need to do is find what you’re passionate about, find what you love, and take a shot at it, because it’s the people who actually go for it who succeed,” said LaGuardia.

He’s collaborating with other NBA summer interns on a think tank project focused on promoting the NBA brand and its merchandising on an international scale. At the end of his internship the group will present its project to an executive board, which will consider implementing strategies developed by the interns.

LaGuardia also has the opportunity to engage in service initiatives with current and former NBA players through NBA Cares. The day after the draft, he’s helping renovate three middle schools in East Orange, N.J., as part of this program.

And he’s confident this type of comprehensive experience is well within reach for other Loyola undergrads.

“As Loyola students we have great opportunities to get out there in the best fields, and I would advise all my fellow classmates and incoming students to take advantage of that. Put yourself out there—you’ll be surprised how much the professional world respects and values what Loyola students have to offer.”

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