For more than three years now, the Houston Rockets have been among the top internship destinations for Rice University Sport Management students. The organization and Rice's Sport Management department enjoy a relationship that allows students to work in a wide variety of areas, have fun, and enjoy basketball all at the same time. Currently, there are nine Rice Sport Management students interning with the Rockets.
The main engineer of this relationship, Professor Tom Stallings, begins working with students from the moment they arrive at Rice to help them land their dream internship, and then eventually, their dream job. Some students have goals of working for a NBA or other professional sports teams in the future, and this relationship helps to make these goals a reality.
“I want to work in basketball operations in the NBA one day, and this internship is very relevant to basketball operations nowadays in the NBA because of the massive analytics revolution in player personnel decision making,” Sergio Santamaria ’18, in Houston Rockets Game Day Video Operations, remarked. “Getting a step in the door in the work world, specifically in the NBA, along with networking opportunities and all kinds of knowledge I get from the job, are helping me achieve my future goals by building experience and a sense of what the journey towards reaching my goals will be like.”
With more than 30 students interning for the Houston-based team since 2011, the Houston Rockets have served not only as a starting point for some students, but as a model of a well-organized sports organization and all the hard work that keeps it running. Most notable for their use of advanced statistical software under statistics-minded General Manager Daryl Morey, the Houston Rockets have also been the model organization for analytic-led development of their players. This has also garnered interest from Rice students.
“Working with the Rockets is an amazing opportunity I never would have gotten if I wasn’t at Rice,” LaShay Fontenot ’16, in Houston Rockets Strategic Marketing said. “My ultimate goal is to work in analytics for a professional team and working with the Rockets, who lead the league in their use of statistics is a great foot-in-the-door. So far it has helped to solidify my interests.”
This relationship is hardly one-way: the students gain valuable experiences that help build their career foundations, while the Houston Rockets breed the next generation of professionals and embrace the hard work of the students in helping to keep the organization running. Each year, more and more students seek internships with the Rockets, and the success of past interns keeps this relationship advantageous for both parties.
“The Rice University Department of Sport Management has enjoyed a close working relationship with the Houston Rockets over the past few years, allowing us to place students with the Rockets for season-long internships on both the business and basketball operations side,” Tom Stallings, a professor in the Department of Sport Management, said. “The success of our relationship with the Rockets has resulted in their front office requesting that we continue to encourage many of our most promising students to apply for positions with the team each year.”
In the past three years, students from Rice University have enjoyed working in these areas within the Houston Rockets organization: basketball operations, strategic marketing, video analysis and statistics, video operations, ticket operations, arena operations, scouting, suite sales and service, and Spanish new media translation.
Summer Roberson, a sophomore from Houston, is double majoring in Sport Management and Political Science.