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MLB partners with BOSS to foster black leadership

Employees meet with high school students to provide career development, interview practice

NEW YORK -- Major League Baseball and the Black Executives Business Resource Group (BRG) joined the Business of Sports School (B.O.S.S.) on Thursday afternoon to foster black leadership within the sports industry and provide career development opportunities for their students by enhancing the MLB brand and giving back through community service.

Major League Baseball's first Mock Interview Workshop began with warm smiles and genuine enthusiasm for networking and opportunities within the MLB workforce. A class of high school seniors arrived to the event exuding confidence and dressed in professional attire -- blazers, suit jackets, business skirts and high heels.

"I did not have my stuff this together at their age. They were impressive, from the firm handshakes to the eye contact to the attire," said Corey Smith, MLB's senior director of diversity and inclusion. "Some of them already have businesses, which is, like, mind blowing. I got a business card from somebody. I didn't even know what a business card was when I was 16-17 years old. They learned some really cool things that are going to help them prepare and succeed in the future."

Each student participated in a 10-minute interview with an MLB employee and BRG member to review his or her resume, attire, general attitudes, content of answers and speaking ability. The interview was followed by an additional two-minute feedback session in which the interviewer detailed pros and cons about the student's performance. By the culmination of the mock interview rotations, it was hard to pull students away from their interviewers.

"Their willingness to speak to adults and the comfort that they had and how excited and engaged they seemed was encouraging," said Sarah Barnes, MLB's manager of growth and marketing. "It wasn't pulling teeth -- right now they're networking with adults and being engaged. Their resumes were tight, their answers were ready, they had questions prepared, they were interested in building their network through the sports community, and that's encouraging, hopefully, for the future of our league."

Two students with the highest points on their scoring rubrics -- based on their resume and professional appearance -- were awarded MLB hats for their overall performance during the mock interview. Students then took part in a networking session accompanied by pizza and soft drinks to discuss their career goals with a variety of MLB employees.

"In our school, there are specific groups that we tend to gravitate toward. But I would like to branch out and get to know people that are outside of my comfort zone," said Darleni Pichardo, a senior at B.O.S.S. "That is a big factor for me. I want to meet people that don't have the same experiences as me so that I can learn and build."

Barnes said the objective of the BRG is broken down into four pillars: Awareness education, community outreach, business integration and professional development. These subsets were weaved into Thursday's workshop to increase connectivity with the black community both outside and within MLB. The BRG works to ensure there is more diversity in MLB's pipeline, while targeting minority youth. The BRG also focuses on how African Americans have played a pivotal role in baseball historically, taking a look at how that can benefit the business going forward.

Clarence Tennell, a Career in Technical Education (CTE) teacher at B.O.S.S. for 24 years, said he hopes students walked away from the workshop grasping the importance of being prepared. Tennell hopes his students set themselves apart from others by recognizing their individual talents and forming lucrative careers out of those skill sets.

"We don't look at it as a negative," Tennell said on diversity. "People are coming from all over the world from different countries to come to the United States. To know and understand not only your culture, but others, is going to give you that leg up.

"I preach a lot to my young ladies -- it's always been a male-dominated world, and you're also a young lady of color and different ethnic background. So you have to work just as hard and get people to understand who you are and what you bring to the table."

Deesha Thosar is a reporter for based in New York City. Follow her on Twitter at @DeeshaThosar.

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