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How My Internship with the Buffalo Wild Wings Foundation Has Given Me a Head Start on My Career

By Devon Clinkscales

This summer, the Buffalo Wild Wings Foundation met Devon Clinkscales, a recent graduate of Booker T. Washington high school in Atlanta, Georgia, and a member of L.E.A.D – a non-profit that uses baseball to empower at-risk youths to overcome crime, poverty and inequality.

This Fall, Clinkscales had plans to play college baseball. But as a result of the ongoing pandemic, those plans were quickly thwarted. After hearing his story, the Foundation connected with Clinkscales to provide him with an internship experience geared toward helping him achieve his dream of one day owning a sports bar. At the conclusion of his internship, Clinkscales was asked to share his learnings and insights in hopes of inspiring others.

In Devon’s own words*:

Coming straight out of a classroom right into working in an office has been a complete shift in responsibility for me. As a teen from the inner city of Atlanta, it’s been a big change to see what it’s like to work in a corporate office and the level of work, maturity and honesty it takes to have that job. I never had talks at school about how a mortgage works, or how to build and keep stable credit. I was never introduced to LinkedIn, or even questioned about why I wanted to own a sports bar. A lot of the talks in high school are about picking a college to attend, and I feel that all the pressure is put on colleges to get students ready for life after school. But as the pandemic has shown, the opportunity to go to college can be taken away in a flash, and college might not even be for everyone.

Through this internship, I have been given a major head start on my journey to owning a Buffalo Wild Wings sports bar. I’ve gained knowledge about how to run a successful sports bar and built relationships with local operators – all of which could take years to accomplish. Before the internship, I wanted to own one sports bar, but now I want to own multiple Buffalo Wild Wings throughout my city starting with one in the inner city of Atlanta.

I’ve learned that if I want to be successful, I’m going to have to make sacrifices and take risks. I’ve also learned to base my career choices on how passionate I am about a job, not just the income it brings. My biggest takeaways from this experience are knowing the importance of networking, finding a passion within my career, being true to who you are, knowing that success never comes easy and always having a plan.

Clinkscales is actively building his network and cultivating relationships to help him achieve his career goals. He is also working as a baseball coach with L.E.A.D and taking classes to get his real estate license.

*Devon’s reflection has been edited for length and clarity.