Many THF Alumni Launch On-Air and Production Careers

T. Howard Foundation interns represent most business functions of the media and entertainment industry. Take a look at a few Internship Program alumni who have reached careers in media on-air and in production at major media companies.

This video first aired at the T. Howard Foundation 2016 Diversity Awards Dinner, in front of an audience of 800 media and entertainment industry executives.

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THF Continues Investment in Alumni Career Pursuits with Scott Weiss Scholarship

The T. Howard Foundation (THF) is excited to announce the recipients of the 2015 Scott Weiss Scholarship, an annual merit-based award granted to eligible alumni of THF’s Internship Program.

Now in its 17th year, the alumni scholarship provides eligible former interns with financial assistance for their academic and career pursuits, including college tuition, textbooks and/or expenses related to professional development, such as conferences and workshops that help prepare recipients for a career in the media industry.

This year, THF awarded $15,000 in scholarships, and individual scholarships can range up to $3,000.

The scholarship is named in honor of Scott Weiss, THF founder and Chairman Emeritus. He is currently CEO and Owner of Speakeasy, a THF partner company.

2015 Scott Weiss Scholarship Award Recipients are (including current institution, expected undergraduate graduation year, THF internship program year and internship host company):

  • Eric Chavous (University of Pittsburgh, MBA and Law student), THF ’15, Paramount Pictures
  • Nicole Dei (University of Maryland, College Park, Broadcast Journalism, ’16), THF ’15, NBCUniversal
  • Paul DiNapoli (University of Pennsylvania, Economics/Political Science,’17), THF ’15, Comcast Corporation
  • Robyn Green (University of Michigan, Communications, ’16), THF ’15, AMC Networks
  • Ying Ting Hu (SUNY Binghamton University, Economics/Psychology, ’16), THF ’15, AMC Networks
  • Nazifa Nasim (Fordham University, Business Administration, ’17), THF ’15, Discovery Communications
  • Dorisa Rodney (Pennsylvania State University, Advertising, ’16), THF ’15, NBCUniversal
  • Isabelle Thenor-Louis (Brown University, Anthropology, ’16), THF ’15, Viacom (BET)
  • Lyn Tran (Brown University, Economics, ’17), THF ’15, Univision

 

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Meaningful Mentor Relationships Help Build Professional Networks

January is #NationalMentoringMonth. An important benefit that all T. Howard Foundation interns experience is being paired with a mentor. Most THF mentors currently work in the media and entertainment industry, and volunteer their time to assist a new generation of diverse professionals in acclimating to work in the competitive industry.

If you’re an experienced media and entertainment professional and wish to become a mentor to a T. Howard Foundation intern, please contact Shakira Smiler, Assistant Manager, Internship Program. 

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Patrick Mosley (THF ’15) interned at Turner Content Distribution, part of Turner Broadcasting System.

I discovered the T. Howard Foundation (THF) through a professional development event organized by North Carolina A&T State University. I have always been captivated by the media industry, so I selected the breakout session that included a presentation by a THF staff member.

I applied to the THF Internship Program because interns are afforded paid work experiences; the primary internship cities were attractive to me; and the Foundation provides its talent pool of minority students with a concentrated approach to encounter decision makers at the country’s top media companies.

I was offered a summer 2015 THF internship with Turner Content Distribution of Turner Broadcasting System. In my internship role as a financial analyst, I examined cable subscriber trends and conducted forensic industry research. I also created various revenue and subscriber models to predict future outcomes.

IMG_0640Although I enjoyed my work and was surprised at the level of creative license analysts are given, one of the most rewarding parts my internship was developing a relationship with my assigned mentor. Each year, all THF interns are paired with a mentor at the beginning of their internship, and I couldn’t have asked for a better-suited mentor than Kenneth Sharkey, THF board member and Partner, Entertainment Media & Communications at PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Mr. Sharkey took an active role in my professional growth from the moment we first spoke. I feel comfortable asking for his advice regarding personal and professional decisions, and he has always responded with wisdom. Not only has my THF mentor taken an active role in being a member of my network, he has made effective efforts to grow it.

It feels good when you meet someone who, today, is where you dream to be someday. After completing my summer THF internship, Mr. Sharkey helped me prepare for a competitive core assurance internship with PricewaterhouseCoopers. His mentorship has helped me reach clarity in my career pursuits, and learning more about his professional journey has also given me confidence in my own abilities. I’m truly grateful that we were paired.

THF creates opportunities for this type of special connection through the quality of their partnerships and the care they extend to each selected intern. I continue to stay in contact with THF simply because it is a quality organization that provides an invaluable opportunity to students who might not ordinarily get the chance to showcase their talents at major, competitive corporations. I have no doubt that every intern granted an internship assignment via THF has experienced professional growth—which is the main reason I decided to apply to the Internship Program initially.

Due to THF’s backing, today, I can enter the workforce prepared, and with direct access to a supportive, successful and influential network.

Patrick Mosley earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from North Carolina A&T State University. He is currently an MBA candidate at North Carolina Central University.

THF Internship Program Turns 20: Alumni Spotlight–Shandra McDonald

In 1995, when Shandra McDonald was accepted into the T. Howard Foundation Internship Program‘s inaugural class, she was a graduate student studying film at Howard University. One of just 14 THF interns that year, Shandra went on to have a successful production career, on her own terms.

This is Shandra’s first person account of her journey from intern to production company CEO.

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I learned about the T. Howard Foundation through Howard University. Howard was always aggressive in encouraging its students to gain real world experience through internships. I had several internships throughout college, and Howard professors and career counselors knew me as someone who was always looking for opportunities to learn, so I always had my eyes on the career and internship board.

During my second semester of my three-year MFA degree program, I was hired as an intern at the Discovery Channel in nearby Silver Spring, Maryland through the T. Howard Foundation. I worked in the CD-ROM division, and at that time, Discovery was beginning to expand, so they were doing a lot of cataloging.

As a film student and a filmmaker, I wasn’t initially thrilled with the idea of working in the CD-ROM department, but I ended up loving it. I worked hard and met many individuals, and my manager was impressed with the work I completed.

Elevator Pitch Helps Land Freelance Job
I’m an ambitious person, and I pay attention to everything that is happening around me. While I was a CD-ROM intern, I learned that the Discovery Channel had a stock footage library, and I knew that there were different opportunities for work in that division. I met the division head in the elevator, and introduced myself and asked if I could set up a meeting with him.

As a film student at Howard University, I was learning about traditional narrative-based film editing and directing. But during my internship and freelance work at Discovery, I had learned and experienced first-hand about offline, non-linear editing, which made me more versatile. As a direct result of that internship, I was offered and accepted a freelance editing position in Discovery’s newly launched international division. This work offered me an additional education that I was being paid to receive—although I had to balance activities and my graduate school thesis. At the time, I was also producing projects at Howard, and I was gaining valuable experience that I could translate into a full-time job.

Timing is Everything
As a freelancer in the international division, my manager knew I was preparing to graduate with an MFA. He was seeking a full-time producer, and the timing couldn’t have been better. Because I had worked for Discovery as an intern through the T. Howard Foundation, I was hired as a freelancer, which ultimately led me to a full-time producer position, a job for which I didn’t even need to apply because I was already vetted and in the Discovery system.

I produced programming with the Discovery Channel Foundation for underdeveloped areas in Africa. I directed full segments overseas and edited existing programs to be later aired on the Discovery Channel.

Prestigious Award is Catalyst for Move to L.A.
In 1998, after learning that my Howard University short film thesis won the Directors Guild of America Student Film Award, I was invited to move to Los Angeles to work in post-production for several BET movies that were based on romantic novels. I worked on that project for close to a year before I freelance wrote and produced for reality television production companies.

I moved to Atlanta in 2002 and worked for Paramount Pictures on The Fighting Temptations. As Atlanta was growing as a production city, I began field producing and story editing for Turner and a number of Atlanta-based production companies.

Reach High—But Don’t Go Overboard
In 2005, I formed Kiss the Limit Productions, where we tell stories that transform peoples’ lives. I realized early on in my career that I wanted to present empowering stories, and those that are compelling and artistically based. Kiss the Limit is a reflection of my motto that you have to reach for the greatest heights in this industry, but not go too far. My company produces short and long form content for a variety of clients in television and film.

Through Kiss the Limit, I’ve produced such feature films as The Last Adam, which is now in Redbox, and A Cross to Bear, which aired on ASPiRE, formerly the Gospel Movie Channel. I’ve also directed and produced award-winning documentary projects that have screened in festivals around the world, including the FESPACO Film Festival in Burkina Faso and the Cannes Film Festival in France. My company is currently producing a documentary on an early intervention model for girls who are at risk for prostitution called Voices. Kiss the Limit secured money from investors and a local bank for this project.

Starting this fall, I’m going to be a professor in Clayton State University’s film production department. I’m excited to share my experience in the field with future filmmakers.

This media business requires a great deal hard work, dedication, innovation and strategy. I knew where I wanted to be in a year. I knew which department I wanted to move to. You have to be able to think ahead and to strategize for evolution through a company and career.

Alumni Spotlight Video: Averi Harper

T. Howard Foundation alumna Averi Harper interned at CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360 in 2012. She earned her Master’s degree in journalism from Columbia University, and her Bachelor’s degree from UNC-Chapel Hill. A former general assignment reporter at WCTI-TV in Greenville, N.C., Averi is currently moving to San Francisco. In this video, Averi reflects on how her THF experience helped develop her media career.

Alumni Spotlight Video: Jennifer Zabasajja

Jennifer Zabasajja (THF ’11) was a T. Howard Foundation intern with AMC Networks’ Sundance Channel while an undergraduate student at New York University. She’s now a Digital Associate Video Producer at CBS Interactive.

Jennifer credits the Foundation with helping her hone her interview and networking skills, and introducing her to people who helped launch her career.

Alumni Spotlight: Preston Chin Makes Rounds at NBA

Headshot-3As the NBA Finals come to a close, Preston Chin (THF ’12, ’13) is living out his childhood dream of working for the league and in the media industry.

While growing up in Atlanta, Preston was always drawn to media, especially sports. “I have always been interested in sports media, particularly ESPN. I watched NBA TV all the time and I loved to broadcast games for fun.” However, he wasn’t sure what career path he would pursue in the industry.

Preston’s lifelong interest in media influenced his decision to major in communications and minor in economics at Stanford University. At Stanford, he went from pretending to broadcast games to actually being a play-by-play announcer for women’s basketball, as well as the men’s and women’s volleyball games for four years. As a sophomore, Preston interned at an English language newspaper while studying abroad in Chile. During his junior year, he interned at the Federal Communications Commission in Washington, DC, focusing on broadband distribution policy.

Being Proactive Led to NBA Projects and Internship
Preston credits the varied experience he gained across the media landscape, including his two T. Howard Foundation internships, with preparing him for his current position at the NBA. In fact, networking during his 2012 THF internship in the sales department at Turner Broadcasting is how he connected with the league: “That internship got me to where I am today with the NBA.”

The NBA had a group of employees based at Turner, located a floor below where Preston was interning. One day he decided to go downstairs and introduce himself. He made a great impression on members of the marketing team and began to work on projects for the NBA while still interning at Turner. These “side projects” helped him confirm his interest in sports media. In 2013, he went on to complete a second internship through the Foundation in ESPN’s digital marketing division.

“I loved it… merging my interest in business, marketing and sports together. It really helped me realize my interest in the intersection between sports and business.”

2014 NBA Associate Class - NBA Cares Day of Service

2014 NBA Associate Class

Contacts Recommend NBA Associate Program
As a result of establishing contacts at the NBA, Preston learned about the NBA Associate Program. He applied during his final quarter at Stanford and was one of eight applicants accepted. A few months after graduating in 2014, he began working for the organization he’s loved since childhood.

NBA Associates spend one year working for the league, rotating through the business’ different departments every three months. By actively being a sports broadcaster, having an international reporting internship and working on the business side of the media industry, Preston says this all helps him to make the transitions required in the NBA Associate Program.

Leadership Skill-Building Across the World

At the NBA Global Games press conference table in Beijing.

At the NBA Global Games press conference table in Beijing.

In October 2014, Preston traveled to Shanghai and Beijing, China for NBA Global Games between the Brooklyn Nets and the Sacramento Kings. The league sponsors tours for family members and friends of basketball team members. Preston was responsible for accompanying guests of the Brooklyn Nets organization. “We explored many of the famous sites in China and ensured that no one was separated from the group. We also led these guests to their VIP seats and to exclusive team-related events held in hotels and in arenas.”

Preston says the two-week assignment was an excellent opportunity to network with team owners and players’ agents. It also provided him with the unique vantage point of seeing how a large-scale event is executed from the NBA’s perspective.

Find Your Niche with an Open Mind
Having a broad resume within the media industry and taking initiative led Preston to the company of his dreams. His advice to students interested in entering the media industry is to keep an open mind and have a “big picture perspective” when working on a project, even if it is something to which you may not have naturally gravitated. Taking a leadership role on such projects can also generate greater opportunities.