“If you are looking to work in the media industry, it is about hard work and networking. If you do all the hard work but nobody truly knows of your capabilities, then sometimes your hard work may go unnoticed, and you may not learn about new opportunities.”
Laura Ortiz realized the importance of networking as a college student and leveraged her contacts including leads from the T. Howard Foundation into a burgeoning career in the media industry.
The Queens, N.Y. native and transplanted southerner grew up as an entertainment industry enthusiast while acting, singing and dancing in high school productions. By her second year as business management major at the University of Georgia, Laura knew that she wanted to pursue a career in the industry that she loved.
She turned to others for ideas. One friend, Shandrea Evans, had been a T. Howard intern, and she shared her internship highlights with Laura and encouraged her to apply to the program when THF visited campus in Fall 2010, which she did.
After going through the application and interview process, Laura was selected for THF’s competitive final talent pool, and received the opportunity to interview for an internship with Univision in Miami.
Laura was pleased with her interview, but suffered a setback when she learned that Univision decided to move the internship to New York, and hired a student who was already in the city. Although she did not intern with Univision through THF that year, Laura was undeterred. “I wasn’t really discouraged because I knew that it was a good start for me. I was just so honored that I reached that level in the internship process and I kept in touch with everyone from the Foundation.”
Through another fellow UGA student Laura learned of internship opportunities at La Mega 97.9 FM, a Spanish language radio station in New York. Although it was not her first choice, she “thought of it as another door opening, another opportunity to add things to my portfolio and hopefully to be more competitive in the next round of placements for T. Howard internships.”
Her summer internship experience at the radio station solidified her interest in a media career, and when Laura returned to school for her final year in 2012, she was determined to secure another internship and still had her sights set on the T. Howard Foundation.
On her own, she was offered an internship with Telemundo in Atlanta, but she recognized the value of working there as a T. Howard intern. Laura contacted THF and asked if her Telemundo internship could be a part of the program, as she had been previously accepted to the final talent pool.
In spring 2012, Laura was finally a T. Howard Foundation intern. “Having the official title of T. Howard intern was very important to me because the Foundation’s brand brings so much power and people know that if you are a T. Howard intern you are diligent.”
Laura gained valuable production experience at Telemundo, and that prepared her for her next THF internship. Through the Foundation, she obtained an internship with A&E Networks Distribution in New York for the summer of 2012. During her A&E internship one of her major assignments was to create marketing strategies to expand the distribution of History en Español. Her experience in two Spanish language media environments led to her obtaining the assignment.
Laura graduated from UGA in December 2012, and contacted LaShika Howard, THF career & alumni manager, about employment opportunities in the media industry. Laura learned about a position in the distribution department at through an email communication that LaShika distributed. Laura became aware of a position in the distribution department at NBCUniversal in New York. After LaShika passed Laura’s resume on to a recruiter at NBCU, Laura went through a series of interviews and accepted an offer as a full time Marketing Coordinator.
In the same way that Laura never lost sight of becoming a T. Howard intern, she remained interested in working for Univision. Laura stayed in contact with the person she interviewed with for the internship position in 2011. Through her work at NBCU she attended many of the same events and conferences as staffers from Univision. By continuing to network, she learned about an opportunity with the Univision, and in February 2014, Laura became a Manager, Distribution Marketing Services and relocated to Miami. After only one year in the industry, she has garnered a major promotion.
Laura calls her ongoing relationship with the T. Howard Foundation a “family” and thanks it for being a champion in the media industry for its interns. She takes pride in the fact that she has had the opportunity to give back to the organization by mentoring students.
The upward trajectory of Laura’s career is proof that her philosophy on networking and relationship building and being optimistic works. “In this industry it is essential that you network and be able to start conversations with people and tell them what your goals, dreams and aspirations are. If you don’t get one opportunity don’t take it as a negative and dwell on that for too long because there are always other opportunities that can put you in the right direction.”