Determined to Dream
PROVO, Utah – Jul 17, 2018 – Braiden Childs has always been passionate about sports and his country. As a young boy, he set a goal to visit all fifty states, and he was an intense Utah Jazz fanatic. Now, as an adult, he has visited forty-nine states, shaken the president’s hand, interned in the White House, and now works for the Jazz.
Childs is a senior in the BYU Marriott strategy program. He hasn’t even graduated yet, and he’s already living his dreams.
“People look at the White House or the Jazz and think it’d be impossible to get there,” Childs says. “But there’s a lot preceding it. You just have to get out there and take the first step.”
Childs took his first step when he realized as a sophomore that he needed work experience in order to reach his goals. He made a list of venture capital firms in Salt Lake City, wrote up a résumé, donned his suit, and took to the streets. He knocked on doors and made cold calls to firms until he landed his first internship with Epic Ventures.
“In the beginning, you have to do everything you can to find opportunities,” Childs says. “You have to be determined. Nothing will be given to you—you have to go out and find it.”
Childs used the same tactic to attain his dream of interning at the White House. He persevered and made connections with people who could endorse him when it came time to apply. He started as an intern in the Office of Presidential Correspondence in May 2017.
During his internship, Childs participated in receiving and responding—on behalf of the president—to all communication from citizens to the White House. While Childs worked there, a young boy wrote to the White House wishing to offer his lawn-mowing services. Childs’ department responded to the boy and got his request approved. A couple months later, he was mowing the Rose Garden lawn and even received a surprise visit from President Donald Trump.
“It was interesting to go through what everyone was sending in,” Childs says. “That open dialogue is honestly what government is all about.”
Childs says as his summer in Washington came to an end, he had to decide what he would do next. He was determined to continue to chase his dreams. During that time, he listened to a podcast by Steve Starks, the president of the Jazz.
“I’m the biggest Jazz fan ever,” Childs says. “I know it’s cliché, but listening to that podcast made all these memories from childhood come flooding back. Santa Claus literally brought only Jazz tickets to our house. So the podcast inspired me. I really wanted to work for Steve Starks and for that organization.”
Childs used the same tactics that landed him his other internships—he made meaningful connections, put in hard work, and exhibited initiative. It paid off, and he started working for the Utah Jazz in October.
As part of the Jazz organization, Childs strategizes and works on special projects directly with the executive team. His first project was to help with the bid to bring the NBA All-Star game back to Utah for the first time since 1993. “It was an amazing project to work on,” Childs says. “I’m excited to see if Salt Lake City will be chosen in the coming year.”
Each project he works on requires him to work with many people from different departments internally and externally.
“When you have to put something together, it always starts with collaborating and building a relationship,” Childs says.
Childs realized business strategy was the right fit for him when he was on an LDS mission in South Africa. He was serving with a friend, Shandon Esplin, when they noticed a huge unemployment problem in the area. They wanted to help, so they decided to run a workshop to teach the people skills that would help them find jobs, including building a résumé and having successful interviews.
Childs found that he had the natural leadership abilities necessary to figure out funding, marketing, venues, and the process of getting approval for the project. He also collaborated with Esplin to make sure they taught meaningful lessons and put on a successful workshop.
“Helping the people in South Africa find work was one of the first leadership experiences that defined me,” Childs says. “It was when I realized that my natural abilities are in strategy. It was great to recognize a problem, come up with a solution, and be on the front lines executing the project.”
Childs’ leadership opportunities and collaborative experiences have given him a leg up with his internships and are sure to do the same as he continues his career after graduation.
“I wouldn’t succeed in my job now without the structured problem-solving skills I’ve learned at BYU Marriott,” Childs says. “To set yourself apart in the workforce, you have to have refined skills, and I learned mine from the strategy program. More doors are opened and you get more bang for your buck at BYU Marriott than anywhere else.”
Media Contact: Jordan Christiansen (801) 422-8938
Writer: Katelyn Stiles