KANSAS CITY -- Jonathan Rosa, the Royals’ manager of charities and community impact, knew he would have to make a strong impression when he was applying to jobs in the competitive professional sports world.
Rosa's story provided one of the best examples of perseverance for around 100 teens in attendance from the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Kansas City at an event with the MLB at Work program on Monday at Kauffman Stadium.
Rosa and five others from different departments spoke about how these teens can earn future jobs with Major League Baseball.
Rosa, who lives with cerebral palsy, talked about his journey from an equipment manager for the University of Kansas baseball team, which started by sending an email to the then-manager. He was then hired by the Royals as a guest experience specialist before earning his current title.
During an hourlong panel discussion, Rosa and five others advocated to the teens to find something they are passionate about, and answered questions for nearly 30 minutes about how to find a job, manage the time commitment and stand out in an interview.
“We have all been there and been that age group where we are trying to figure out what we want to do with our lives,” Rosa said. “That’s what makes things like these special. We can get a panel of rock stars in our organization that have been through that before and can share a little bit about what they’ve done to get to where they are now.”
It was important for the panelists to highlight the fact that you don’t have to play sports to work in sports. Six Royals employees, from departments including stadium operations, athletic training, graphics design, broadcasting, sales and community relations, spoke about their journeys and just how many different opportunities and career paths can end with a job with a Major League Baseball organization.
“I think it’s a misconception that to work in sports, you have to play sports,” Rosa said. “And that’s just not the case. You have graphic designers, folks in finance, folks from our cleaning crew. There are jobs all over the ballpark that have nothing to do with playing baseball. And while that certainly helps, that’s not a dealbreaker by any means.”
Most of the attendees are in high school or middle school. The Royals' digital host and reporter Carrie Lippert-Gillaspie, and Nick Kenney, the Royals’ director of Major League medical administration, provided answers on how to get involved early, even before heading to college.
“Get involved in your school … if you want to be in graphic design, join the yearbook crew,” Lippert-Gillaspie said. “Then you can start fitting those little pieces in. … And when you get to college, make sure you are reaching out to Minor League and Major League teams because that’s when you can start to get those internships.”
Kenney, who was the Royals’ head athletic trainer for 12 seasons, helped answer questions about the medical world, but also provided insight about how the ability to do a job isn’t always enough. In a teamwork environment like Major League Baseball, working alongside others is just as critical.
“There are three things you can control each and every day -- your attitude, your intensity and your preparation,” Kenney said. “My dad said, ‘If you work hard and you treat people right, you will never have to look for a job because people will tell others that you’re the right person to do the job.’”
Afterward, the group was able to tour the visitors' clubhouse, sit in the dugout and view the field. It was a chance for the teens to experience what makes working with a Major League club such a competitive lifestyle.
No matter which department or field of work they were in, the panelists agreed on one thing: “We have dream jobs. All of us here get to come to [Kauffman Stadium] and this is our view every day, and where we get to work is incredible,” Lippert-Gillaspie said.