January 17, 2017
Unlike the NBA season, which lasts almost eight months if you include the playoffs, the WNBA season is only five months long. That leaves a lot of time for league players to do something else during the other months of the year. The majority of players head overseas to compete in foreign leagues during the “off-season”, but many stay home to pursue other opportunities. WNBA players can make up to five times more than their domestic salaries abroad which is why many head that way during the offseason. The maximum salary of a WNBA player is a little over $100,000, with the average around $75,000. While this is great money for the time spent, and besides, these women get to play basketball for a living, most continue on in varying careers after their playing days are over. To help better prepare WNBA players for life after basketball the league provides paid internship opportunities to those that are interested. Already, the league requires it’s players to either be 22 years of age, graduated from a four-year university, or used all of their college eligibility to even enter the WNBA, which serves a great purpose when the time comes to hang up your sneakers.
The WNBA has partnered with several companies that have internship positions available for players to pursue during their time off. Players are also able to create their own internship with a company if they choose to. Many players have taken advantage of this opportunity as they see the importance of gaining real life work experience. UCONN standout and current Washington Mystics Center Stefanie Dolson is currently working an internship with Bobbi Brown, one of the most famous cosmetic companies in the country. Dolson currently works with the PR and Marketing team setting up ads and helping to ensure Bobbi Brown products are portrayed in a positive light. When asked why she decided to use her off-season to complete an internship Dolson said,
“I think it’s [an intership] important because as an athlete our careers only last as long as our bodies do so it’s a good idea to have something in line for after we can’t play anymore.”
Dolson hopes that this new experience with Bobbi Brown Cosmetics will help her to figure out what she is interested in outside of basketball. She will have gained invaluable hands on experience that will prepare her for a second career after basketball.
Many players in the past have taken advantage of the WNBA’s internship opportunity and this year a record number of players are currently enrolled. Several years ago, 10 year WNBA veteran Monique Currie completed an internship with EYA, a real estate development company in the Washington D.C. area. Currie was unable to play basketball that year as she had suffered an ACL injury while playing overseas. Upon returning home, she decided her time would be best used to not only rehab but to pursue other interests outside of basketball as well. “My time with EYA was an amazing opportunity for me. I’m very interested in real estate and was able to use my time to better prepare myself for the future. WNBA players pretty much play year-round and are unable to gain real work experience outside of basketball so I am extremely grateful and proud that the league is taking the initiative to help their players succeed in life.” Currie wrote a pretty insightful and funny blog post about some of her first experiences with the company that you can read here. From the Court to the Cubicle.
This all goes to show that the WNBA is more than just a basketball league. The WNBA is made up of great women who are role models, business women, college graduates, and community leaders. They come from all walks of life and all have their own unique stories. WNBA players continually express the importance of education to the youth and they practice what they preach with the majority of players having college degrees. Perhaps one day WNBA players will make enough money where they don’t have to have a second career if they choose to but for now the WNBA is contributing to the success of their players on and off the court.