“My degree in broadcast journalism and marketing from Delaware State University says that I am teachable, but the 10-week journey at Viacom is where I learned how to survive and be successful in this industry; and this is all because of the incredible internship opportunity I had provided by the T. Howard Foundation.”
Steven DeShields, THF ’05, was recognized as a “rising star” at this year’s Diversity Awards Dinner, held March 26 at Cipriani Wall Street in New York.
T. Howard Foundation staff chose Steven as this year’s “Rising Star” because he has shown great promise as a young professional and has remained connected and committed to the Foundation.
We recently spoke with Steven about his journey from being a T. Howard intern to working full-time in the media industry. Here are his thoughts, in his own words.
How did you first learn about the T. Howard Foundation?
In 2005, I attended the Howard University job fair. The T. Howard Foundation was at the job fair, so I grabbed information and applications and filled it out over my spring break while I was home in Philadelphia.
What attracted you to the Foundation and the internship program?
Immediately, that it was paid (laughs). But I knew the importance of getting an internship in the industry. My professors and advisors at Delaware State told me that it was crucial to get an internship in the industry; practical experience is a necessity for success. I was also attracted to the Foundation because it is geared toward internships, and ultimately careers, for minorities. Diversity in all industries—especially the media business, is important to me.
What were your career goals before learning about the T. Howard Foundation?
My dream was to work in broadcast journalism—primarily in sports. I continue to hone on that craft and I’m a student of the sports world. I’m a big fan of ESPN and other sports networks— that’s what I entered school for. I decided, however, to pick up another bag of tricks in the industry—and not put all my eggs in one basket.
Where did you intern through T. Howard?
I interned for Viacom, back when it was coined MTV Networks, and I worked specifically for nick@nite and TVLand’s on-air creative group.
I was an intern production assistant. My college advisor told me to act like I worked there because then I’d get the most out of the internship. You won’t learn anything getting coffee, and the Foundation really set the bar. During my 10 weeks as a Viacom intern, I worked with producers an associate producers.
I worked on a package, or a “stunt” for nick@nite, sponsored by Head & Shoulders shampoo to find the “sexiest hair on nick@nite.” I sat through hours of “Full House” episodes trying to find video of John Stamos playing with his hair. I then had to consolidate 40 episodes into 30 seconds.
What was your career journey after your internship?
I made it a point to stay in touch with folks from the Foundation and people I met at my class’s Diversity Awards Dinner.
After my college graduation, I moved to Atlanta and worked in radio promotions and sales for about a year and a half. I then found my way back to Viacom using relationships I had formed during my internship.
I spent 5 years at Viacom in ad sales for Nickelodeon, and then in a group that trained ad sales employees for the entire company. That was from 2008 until December 2012. I continued to work my relationships and caught the eye of people at Showtime to help train and develop for them.
What’s your current position at Showtime Networks?
I’m a manager, point of sale for Showtime Networks. I have one client, Verizon, and my job is to hit the road and visit to Verizon call center environments where people proactively call about their Verizon service, and I make sure call center employees are involved in selling Showtime programming.
How do you currently interact with the Foundation?
I’ve participated in a couple of internship orientations and sat on an alumni panel. Every opportunity I can get to do my part, I do. I do want to see many more male alumni to come back and work with the Foundation. I want to pay it forward.
What was the most memorable aspect of this year’s Diversity Awards Dinner for you?
The interns—hands-down. The Diversity Awards Dinner is about them and you really get the opportunity to see how great the Foundation is in cultivating the interns.
The former interns weren’t just there for the dinner, to look nice and hear their names, but they made it a point to be aggressive and deliberate.
What continues to impress me about T. Howard interns is how they truly want to work in the industry; they are so eager. That’s something that’s always the biggest takeaway from the dinner.