GREENVILLE, Pa.—Dotun Akinwale was focused, calculated and persistent during his collegiate career at Thiel. When he was not in the Academic Center laboring for his Bachelor of Arts degree in Business Administration, he was working out in the Paul Bush ‘66 Memorial Fitness Center to prepare for basketball season on the hardwood floor of the Beeghly Gymnasium.
The former 6-foot-1-inch guard has a new uniform these days. He has traded in his navy blue and old gold uniform with T-H-I-E-L splashed across the chest for new colors and gear. He now favors blue, black, silver and white, and a tightly wound necktie.
A 2013 graduate, Akinwale has executed the most successful drive to the basket in his career in landing a front office internship with the NBA's Orlando Magic.
"It was always a dream of mine to work in the front office for an NBA team," said Akinwale. "I feel extremely lucky; it's really hard to get into the NBA."
Akinwale's front office internship is the culmination of more than two years of hard work and dedication, not only to his duties as student and basketball player but also to a campaign of résumé-building, networking and self-promotion.
Akinwale knew he wanted to work in sport in some capacity by the end of his sophomore year, he said. He then spent the next two summers working for Sports Management Group Worldwide, Inc. (SMGW). Located in Fairfax, Va., SMGW represents professional athletes throughout the country.
"I thought I wanted to be an agent," said Akinwale, explaining his summer employment with SMGW. "After my junior year, I decided I wanted to work in the NBA in the front office, and I started to map it out."
"I didn't know anyone," Akinwale continued. "I just started trying to make contacts."
There were many phone calls and emails along the way, mostly to people whose statures and reputations as professional sport managers might intimidate most college students. There was plenty of rejection along the way, too. Akinwale heard more than his fair share of 'we're not hiring', 'we'll keep your résumé on file' and 'we'll keep you in mind if anything opens up'.
Finally, Akinwale contacted George Rodman, the basketball operations manager for the Orlando Magic. Rodman kept in touch with Akinwale for months, but he was not certain if the team was going to hire a basketball operations intern for the 2013-14 season.
Months went by, and Akinwale began to consider applying to graduate schools. In the fall, Akinwale finally learned that the Magic planned to hire a basketball operations intern, and his networking success earned him an interview for the position via Skype with Rodman and other front office personnel. Akinwale's first interview led to a second Skype interview with general manager Rob Hennigan and vice president/assistant general manager Scott Perry.
On the night of his second interview, one of the team's human resources employees called Akinwale to offer him the internship. Without hesitation, he accepted the offer. Akinwale arrived in Orlando on Sept. 29 and started his internship the next day.
"The internship has been great so far," Akinwale said. "It's a lot of work, but it's a lot of fun. There's always something to do, but it's one of those things where I wake up every morning and I'm so excited to go into the office."
As part of his basketball operations internship, Akinwale has been busy updating and maintaining the Magic's player database, scheduling scouting credentials for the team's scouts and front office staff, and creating documents for use in staff meetings. He is also responsible for in-game charting of opponents' performances and generating mini scouting reports on several players per game, as well as breaking video down.
"He's such a great kid," Thiel's eighth-year men's basketball head coach Tim Loomis said of Akinwale. "He did all of our film work last year, and I think that helped him. Of course, he's a really bright kid. Administrative, front office; I think he's that kind of guy."
Akinwale's internship is not free from typical intern duties. He makes copies, takes lunch orders and makes runs to the airport. It's well worth it to get his foot in the door with an NBA team, though.
"A lot of the guys in the front office started off as interns," he said. "They all know what it's like to do the little things to help build on the bigger things. They're really great to work with, and they have been very helpful."
A native of Boyds, Md., Akinwale wears new colors and a grown up's uniform. He now does most of his work inside Orlando's $380 million Amway Center, but he is still focused, calculated and persistent in continuing to pursue his professional NBA career.
About Thiel College
Founded in 1866, Thiel College is an independent liberal arts, sciences and professional studies institution located on a 135-acre campus in Greenville, Pa. just 90 minutes from Pittsburgh, Cleveland and Erie. Committed to combining the best of the liberal arts tradition with career and life skills, the Thiel College faculty offers a high quality undergraduate education to more than 1,100 students across more than 60 majors and minors in 19 discipline areas that inspire, challenge and prepare students to succeed.