“When it came to the orientation and the help I received from THF staff–it really helped fine tune my skills to enter the field properly.”
Eric Petit-Frere took this message from the T. Howard Foundation’s 2012 Summer Internship Orientation in New York to the DIRECTV Broadcast Center in Los Angeles, Calif. As a student studying Radio, Television and Film at Howard University, Eric learned about the opportunity to apply for the Foundation’s summer internship program from a friend and alumnus of THF ’11. After learning about his friend’s experience and being encouraged to apply by one of his professors, Eric conducted research on the Foundation and completed his application in fall 2011.
As Eric was accepted into THF’s Final Talent Pool for summer 2012, he only had intentions of working on the East Coast, in cities such as Philadelphia, New York, Washington, DC and Atlanta.
That changed when he was made aware of an internship opportunity at DIRECTV in Los Angeles. Eric interviewed and was offered the position, but he had some reservations about going to California. “I didn’t know anyone or even how to go there or how to rent [an apartment] out there.”
Once again, THF was instrumental; he received a housing scholarship, staff offered him suggestions on finding a place to live in Los Angeles and paired him with a mentor, Isaac Ahn, formerly of the Creative Artists Agency.
Ahn and the Foundation taught Eric about developing a succinct “elevator speech” to explain what he hoped to accomplish in his career. He literally put his elevator speech into practice during a chance encounter with John Ward, DIRECTV Senior Vice President of Content Operations, on an elevator. “We ended up finding out that we had attended the same high school in North Carolina, and from that conversation I set up a meeting with him.”
When his summer internship ended in Los Angeles, Eric returned to Howard University to complete his final year of college. At the end of the 2012 fall semester he received an offer to return to the DIRECTV Broadcast Center, but this time as a full-time Production Operator. “Before learning about the T. Howard Foundation, I was thinking about getting my master’s degree in film and going from there to look for a job in a studio.” Instead, Eric graduated in May 2013 and in August of that year, he launched his career in the media industry at the world’s leading provider of digital television services.