Written by Whitley Neumeister '20
- ECGulls.com Contributor
BEVERLY, Mass. – Imagine being a high school basketball player, and someone tells you that meeting Ice Cube and spending weekends with top NBA prospects will be your future. And, it all could be because of the internship experiences you had in college.
Well, that pretty much sums up the life Stephen Basden '17 (Lynn, Mass.) is leading right now at ISlide because of his growth-mindset and opportunities afforded to him as a graduate of Endicott College with a Bachelor of Science in Marketing.
Some of Basden's responsibilities at ISlide include heading their social media efforts, which entails being a content distribution strategist and a co-branding/partnership campaign strategist. He also is responsible for acquiring new celebrity and athlete partnerships, managing their brand ambassador program and assisting in field sales initiatives, among a myriad of other roles/responsibilities.
Before figuring out how Basden ended up at ISlide – which is a company that creates customizable and collaboration-style athletic sandals, featuring sports teams anywhere from the Boston Celtics to the USC Trojans – one must understand Basden's journey to and his time at Endicott.
BASDEN'S JOURNEY TO ENDICOTT
Growing up in Lynn, Massachusetts, Basden has always held himself to a higher standard when it comes to both academics and athletics. Basden played multiple sports per season growing up, in addition to performing at a high level academically, and it's something he values to this day after his time at The Governor's Academy in Newbury, Massachusetts before arriving at Endicott.
"I always thought if I stayed busy I won't have any time to be in trouble or to get in trouble. Sports are a good way for kids to congregate and hang out together in a healthy and active way," said Basden.
Basden always knew basketball was his favorite sport though and remarked about all the time both he and his family put into achieving his ultimate dream of playing college basketball.
"My mother has sacrificed so much for me. She never missed a game, no matter where it was, when it was, she would even feed the team, and also drove me to games and practices, and did all of this while working full-time."
Basden was quick to express his immense gratitude towards his mother when asked about growing up but also reflected on his duty to his younger family members and hometown community.
"I want to be a representation of not only how to play the game, but also what you can get out of the game if you put in the necessary work," said Basden. "The idea of being able to represent what sports can do in your life if you make the most out of them has always motivated me."
Basden four years at The Governor's Academic is where he learned he could thrive academically in a close-knit community with smaller class sizes and better student-to-teacher ratios. Basden also remembered his experience searching for a college that could support both his academic desires and athletic aspirations. What stood out to him about Endicott was the coaching staff and the personal connection they made early on in the recruiting process.
"The assistant coach for Endicott at the time, Seth Stantial, was one of the only coaches who went out of his way to give me a call before he saw me play at a tournament in Florida. That was something that I later learned would be a good representation of the type of people at Endicott and the basketball program in general."
As his dreams became a reality, Basden ultimately chose Endicott as his four-year college and the next place he would continue his basketball career. He remarked the most compelling aspects of Endicott as being the campus location, community, and the internship program.
"You step on campus and you know it's beautiful right away. The location is almost unreal when it comes to the beaches across the street and the safe neighborhood. When you're on campus, Endicott has a very isolated feel from the outside, it isn't open to the public, so you feel safe. When you get on campus, there are so many different buildings and areas of campus so I felt like I was getting that 'big-time school' feeling without tens of thousands of students."
Everything from the initial contact with the coaching staff to the admissions visit and tour made all the difference for Basden. After his on-campus visit, Basden realized Endicott not only had the strong basketball program he was seeking but highly ranked academics and a supportive environment that he wanted to be a part of.
"The coaching staff played a huge part in convincing me [to come to Endicott] especially by introducing me to Mr. Redman in admissions. You could tell everyone, especially Mr. Redman, had that 'Endicott pride', almost like they had attended the school themselves or as if their child currently went there."
TURNING HIS PASSION OF SPORT INTO A CAREER
Sports had always consumed Basden's life in a positive way, but the new opportunity to create this ideal life with sports and a career intertwined after graduation seemed almost unreal. That thought process flipped for Basden, however, when he learned more about how internships were part of the cohesive experiential learning program at Endicott and how it could meld both worlds together.
"Right away I met with an internship coordinator. Being told, 'you can intern with the New York Knicks or with a local startup,' and whether the experience is good or bad, you learn something. To this day, out of my three internships, the one I didn't like has actually taught me the most – advocating for yourself and your career goals instead of just completing the internship to get the school credit."
Being a student-athlete makes it difficult to get jobs, and deciding between getting a job and continuing your passion is not an easy decision either. Basden acknowledged the expectations of a college student-athlete, as well as the sacrifices involved when it comes to personal life.
"A lot of student-athletes [at some other colleges] graduate with no job-related experiences or internships on their resume because no one wants to hire them for just a few weeks at a time during our season. While at Endicott, having the chance to put those internships on your resume, because they are part of your required curriculum, whether it be the three-week summer internship or the semester-long, it really made the difference for me."
Basden also reflected on how certain faculty members and mentors made all the difference for him during his undergrad years as a student-athlete.
"Everyone who worked at Endicott made it a point to ask how you're doing, or remember your mom's name, but one person, in particular, was Brandi Johnson, who is now the Vice President of Student Affairs and Dean of Students. I was able to text her, and go into her office, and share a lot of things with her that I wouldn't share with anyone else other than my mother. Things I needed advice on, and she was realistic with me in regards to my goals during and after college. Lance Green was our assistant coach, and he was someone who lived my life while he was at Endicott, as an alum himself. He was a young black man who I could confide in, and ask him about his experiences while at Endicott and how I could make the most of my time at Endicott. And then men's basketball head coach Kevin Bettencourt, he's just a cool down to earth guy I could trust and seek support with."
RELATIONSHIPS, INTERNSHIPS LEAD TO CAREER AT ISLIDE
As passionately as Basden was to point out that his relationships with faculty and staff fostered his remarkable experience at Endicott, he also was quick to credit Endicott's Internship and Career Center as a major reason why he had success at the college during his time as a student and also upon graduation.
After all, his freshman year internship with ISlide did lead to his current job with them…
Reflecting on his first internship experience, Basden remembered what it was like to intern with a new company. He acknowledged the benefits of starting out with a brand new company being crucial to his development as it has given him the opportunity to grow within the company in many areas.
"I had no expectations for internships other than what you see in movies. I thought I was going to have to wear a suit and go get coffee and find parking spots and bring water to people. When I started here at ISlide when I was a freshman, it was during their first year as a startup. That really opened my eyes to the career opportunities there for post-graduation."
To give you more insight into ISlide, and also as previously mentioned, the company creates customizable and collaboration-style athletic sandals, featuring sports teams anywhere from the Boston Celtics to the USC Trojans. ISlide's customers include celebrities and professional athletes including Isaiah Thomas, Antonio Brown, DJ Khaled, and more recently, Travis Scott and his Astroworld Tour.
The most important aspect of the ISlide company is that it gives each and every one of its customers a unique opportunity to represent themselves, their beliefs, and interests. Meanwhile, the slogan of the company is: "Stand In What You Stand For." That statement is the slogan of the company because ISlide believes that if you truly stand for something you should want to embody it down to your toes.
With that being said, what is a typical day in the life like at ISlide? Basden shared his experience working for a company he is not only passionate about but also a brand that has become part of his everyday lifestyle.
"I spend a lot of late nights here by accident, just because I really like what I'm doing. I do a lot of creative work, creative briefs, content creation, social media posting, and partnership outreach/management. A lot of followers are from the west coast, so I often wake up at 5 AM and check in on what I may have missed from the night before."
The best part of the job?
Basden gets to meet with clients, and often these clients include some big names. Have you ever heard of Zion Williamson, for example, the power forward for the Duke Blue Devils, projected to be the first overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft?
Yeah… we're going to guess you have.
Or how about Ice Cube – rapper, actor, and current CEO of the BIG 3 Basketball League.
That's probably another yes… (plus, we already mentioned him to start the story)
"I spent a whole weekend with his Zion's family. I remember while I was with them his parents said, 'make sure you say thank you.' He's the nicest kid in the world and comes from a great family. I would've never known that had I not been given the opportunity to work with him on behalf of ISlide. But, aside from that, honestly, the best part of my job is that I actually have so much creative influence on the brand and the clients we work with every day."
Reflecting on his experience as a student-athlete at Endicott, Basden mentioned the significance of his internship experience. He began his journey as a student-athlete but was able to create a lifetime career out of his two true passions put together: basketball and a creative vision for fashion.
"This is the only job I've ever had, and I don't think courses can teach you how to do your job, but more so how to look at things differently."
If Basden had to name just a few life-changing takeaways from his time in Beverly, he would tell you about goal-setting and teamwork, both on and off the court.
"They say millennials change their job every three years. I don't want that, I want to get better at my job, and move up in the same company. When I was on the team [Endicott men's basketball] I had personal goals and team goals. Now, I have personal goals, and we have company goals. We want to help each other because we're all interested in the entire project and have a team mentality."
After success as a student-athlete, and even more learning and personal growth, Basden can now see where that first three-week internship took him… exactly where he wanted to be.
So, where can you find him in five years from now?
"I want to create something epic, to help the company take off, so people ask, 'who came up with that?' That's what keeps me motivated."
(Photo Credit - Whitley Neumeister '20)