NEW YORK -- Kindu Jones knew early on that he wanted to work in baseball, but when he watched the sport growing up, all he saw were the players on the field. As he went on to earn a business degree in college, he would ask himself how he could turn that education into a career path that worked for him.
After a fortunate break, Jones was able to get his foot in the door at Major League Baseball, which gave him a front-row seat to the business behind the game. Now the company’s senior coordinator of baseball development, Jones was part of a group of employees trying to show the next generation that there’s a place for them in the game, too.
On Thursday morning at the Office of the Commissioner, MLB’s Black Professionals Business Resource Group (BRG) -- of which Jones is a co-president -- hosted its fourth annual career day for 13 high school seniors from Manhattan’s Business of Sports School (BOSS). The students -- who are on a specialized pathway in entrepreneurship and sports management while working toward their Career and Technical Education (CTE) endorsement -- engaged in seminars with the BRG’s leaders, participated in mock interviews with employee volunteers and went on an inaugural tour around the company’s Midtown headquarters to explore the departments that run the sport’s operations year-round.
“That’s what we want for them: We want their eyes to be opened.” Jones said. “To know there are various roles, different opportunities within our sport if they decide to pursue it.
“This was huge, that we were able to open our doors to them so they could visually see it. Because if you can’t see it, then how can you believe that it’s possible?”
Employees from departments such as sales, human resources, accounting, design, technology and finance signed up to conduct in-person and virtual interviews with the students, who are preparing for college admissions, scholarships, internships and jobs. In the leadup to those conversations, the students attended informational sessions on social media promotion, professional brand marketing and interview etiquette.
They also received a personal message from Tony Reagins, MLB’s chief baseball development officer and the BRG’s executive sponsor. Though he could not be at the office due to the Owners’ Meetings in Chicago, he recorded a video encouraging the BOSS students to make the most of the event, closing with the tagline: “Have fun. Learn something. Don’t be afraid to ask questions.”
“We are excited to have you here with us once again,” Reagins said. “We’re hoping to create opportunities for you both within and outside of the game, and really pour into you and give you an exciting experience here at the league.”
That experience included interviews in conference rooms that are named after and designed based on some of the most prominent hitters, pitchers and fielders in baseball’s history. It included a live demonstration of the role virtual-reality technology plays in video game design. It even included a stroll along the terrace, where the students were surrounded by the corporate buildings and cultural institutions that mark the city’s skyline.
But the focal point of the day was still the wisdom that the employees were able to share about how they broke into the business and how the students can do the same.
“A lot of our volunteers are repeat volunteers,” said Pamela Rivers, receptionist and fellow co-president of the BRG. “They like volunteering, they like working with children, they like being able to help mold minds and help guide and give information and resources as they know it. So I think they were very excited. When we put out the call for volunteers, people jumped at the opportunity.”
That passion is what stood out to Clarence Tennell, BOSS’s virtual enterprise teacher and athletic director, and it’s why the long-running partnership between the school and the league is a “perfect match.”
“For our young men, [it’s about] starting to see people who look like them. And for our young ladies, starting to see more women of color being in such prominent positions, especially on the sports side,” Tennell said. “Seeing them at these prestigious companies, [the students] aspire to be like them.”
One student drove that point home in a passing conversation with Jones.
“They basically said, ‘I didn’t know this was possible. But I’m looking at you and I think that this is a realistic opportunity,’” Jones said.
As far as the BRG is concerned, that’s what it’s all about.