A few months into her part-time job in the Special Events Department with the Golden State Warriors, Jazmin Villanueva ’12 eagerly responded to an e-mail blast from the Community Relations Department requesting assistance for a special project at Oracle Arena.
As Jazmin responded “I’m available,” she envisioned assisting at an exciting community event. Instead, Villanueva found herself in a mobile storage unit in the arena parking lot, on a hot summer’s day, sorting through decades-old giveaway items and apparel.
Rather than get discouraged, Villanueva viewed the situation as a networking opportunity. She dove into the task at hand and chatted with the Community Relations Department staff to learn more about what they did.
Villanueva’s optimistic attitude, hard work, and sincere interest in learning didn’t go unnoticed. Only weeks later, she was offered an assistant position in the Community Relations Department. “I actually think I was being interviewed for the job that day – even though I didn’t know that there was an opening,” she said.
Always Up for a Challenge
Villanueva has never shied away from challenges – being the only person from her San Leandro public middle school to attend O’Dowd; taking Honors and AP courses in high school; working 30 hours a week while at the same time taking a full course load of 18 units every semester at the University of San Francisco; and graduating Cum Laude from college in 3 1/2 years. Don’t ever pass up an opportunity and never think work is beneath you. “Don’t be afraid to get down and dirty.”
With a longstanding interest in sports – Villanueva served as the team manager for O’Dowd’s freshman and junior varsity men’s basketball teams – she knew she wanted to pursue a sports-related career. But after participating in a Junior Achievement Social Innovation Camp, in which her team took first place, during her junior year of high school she discovered a passion for business.
At USF, Villanueva majored in Organizational Behavior and Leadership with an interest in sports management. And she actively sought out opportunities to get involved in professional sports. She worked for the San Francisco Giants as a Junior Giants Ambassador, coordinating the organization’s free, non-competitive, and coed baseball program for youth ages 5-18 in her hometown of San Leandro, and assisted with events at AT&T Park. She also had an opportunity to support the team’s Media Relations Department throughout the 2014 World Series.
Subsequently, Villanueva worked for the Oakland Athletics in Stadium Operations before joining the Warriors.
Working to Better the Community
In her role as a Community Relations Assistant, Villanueva has worked on programming in the areas of education, health and fitness, and citizenship. One of Villanueva’s initial projects was coordinating a Warriors Chef Academy graduation celebration, held at a San Francisco elementary school. Warriors Chef Academy is a healthy cooking program conducted in partnership with Bay Area non-profit partner 18 Reasons. Former Warriors player Kelenna Azubuike and local radio host Marcus D participated in the event.
Currently, her focus is education, and she supports several programs including the Read to Achieve and Future Leaders Financial Literacy programs for elementary, middle, and high school students. She is also helping to build up the organization’s mentoring program.
Additionally, Villanueva facilitates and tracks current and alumni player appearances.
Finally, she manages the organization’s donation requests. “We get thousands of requests from schools and non-profit organizations for memorabilia for their auctions and raffles,” she said.
Villanueva says the most challenging aspect of her work is the time commitment. “This is not a 40-hour-a-week job,” she said. Her work day can stretch up to 14 hours on game days, and there are upwards of 40 of those each season. “I come into the office at 8:30 a.m., work all day, and then go to the game and help manage whatever program or special event we have going on that night,” she said.
That includes the Oracle Zone program on home game days which provides Bay Area community groups the opportunity to sit lower level, tour the arena, and watch shoot-around. “It’s an unforgettable experience for them,” Villanueva said. And, being a huge Warriors fan growing up, Villanueva admits it was hard not to be “Fan Girl” when she first started working for the team. Villanueva remains passionate about her job in Community Relations and feels she’s found her niche.
“I would love to continue working with the Warriors, expanding our community impact within the Bay Area,” she said. “I also know that wherever I work in the future I want to be helping the community.” Villanueva’s advice to others starting their careers? Don’t ever pass up an opportunity and never think work is beneath you. “Don’t be afraid to get down and dirty,” she said.