Isabel Oropeza and Danny Washington

This profile on Pepperdine University students Isabel Oropeza and Danny Washington, who are 2011 NBA All-Star Sales and Marketing interns, is one in a series on individuals in the community who are involved with the world of sports.

The NBA All-Star Game, which returns to Los Angeles this February for the first time since 2004, brings the biggest names in basketball- Kobe Bryant, Kevin Garnett and LeBron James-to Staples Center for a star-studded weekend.

The festivities, which take place Presidents’ Day weekend, begin with the T-Mobile Rookie Challenge and Youth Jam on Friday, continue with NBA All-Star Saturday Night, which includes the three-point shoot-out and dunk contest, and culminate with the NBA All-Star Game on Sunday, Feb. 20.

The entire weekend, fans can attend the NBA All-Star Jam Session, a basketball theme park that takes over the Los Angeles Convention Center. NBA All-Star Weekend is expected to bring an estimated $85 million in increased economic activity to the Los Angeles market.

While the NBA stars are very visible, a group of interns work tirelessly behind-the-scenes in preparation for NBA All-Star Weekend in conjunction with the NBA and the Los Angeles Sports and Entertainment Commission (LASEC). Two 2011 NBA All-Star Sales and Marketing interns, Isabel Oropeza and Danny Washington, are students at Pepperdine University.

Oropeza, who plans to graduate in 2013, is from Yorba Linda. She is majoring in organizational communications.

“Isabel has definitely been the surprise sales person so far,” Karina Herold, director of Sports and Entertainment Sales at LASEC, said. “We have seen her grow everyday in this internship.”

Washington is a business major from Sacramento, and is pursuing marketing and psychology minors. He plans to graduate in 2011.

“Danny has stood out to me for his work ethic and his ability to work well in a team environment,” LASEC Programs Coordinator Daisy Wiberg said. “Danny has a great knowledge about sports, and he has been able to translate that knowledge into the work that he is doing for this internship.”

What has been the most enjoyable part of the 2011 NBA All-Star Sales and Marketing Internship?

Isabel Oropeza: [It] has definitely been working with all the wonderful people I have met. The office dynamics are great. Everyone is always very positive and encouraging. We all work well together.

Danny Washington: The volunteer informational meeting was stressful and somewhat chaotic, but it was very rewarding to see it all come together.

What has been the biggest challenge so far?

IO: The biggest challenge was probably adjusting to the specifics of this internship, since sales and marketing is an area that I have never been involved in before.

DW: The biggest challenge so far has been getting in contact with leads. Once people return your call or e-mail, it is usually pretty straight forward in terms of them being interested in buying tickets, but getting over that initial communication hurdle can be difficult at times.

What have you learned?

IO: I have learned that sales and marketing requires a lot of time and patience. Closing a deal does not happen overnight, thus it is important to stay in constant communication with any leads.

DW: This internship has been a great experience, and has given me valuable sales and marketing skills that I can directly apply to a job in the future.

What is the most exciting part of NBA All-Star Weekend?

IO: Personally, the most exciting part is the Sprite Slam Dunk Contest.

DW: The NBA All-Star Jam Session. It allows fans to be a part of the NBA All-Star experience, and play fun interactive games with their friends as well as encounter several current and past NBA players.

Who is your favorite NBA player, and which NBA team do you root for?

IO: I am a Los Angeles Lakers fan, and my favorite player is Derek Fisher.

DW: My favorite NBA player is Tyreke Evans, and even though they have fallen on hard times, I am still a fan of the Sacramento Kings.

What are your goals for the future?

IO: I would like to receive my master’s degree in sociology or communications and eventually be a director for the NBA Cares Program, NBA Beyond Borders, or the Lakers Youth Foundation.

DW: I have short-term and long-term goals that I set for myself, but my ultimate goal is to work in sports once I graduate from college. I eventually want to work in the front office of an NFL team, or to be a director of marketing for Nike.

The Malibu Times is the first newspaper in Malibu, serving the community since 1946.

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