Get Noticed in Media Industry with T. Howard Foundation Internship

Shayla Cole (Scripps Networks)

Shayla Cole (THF ’14, ’15), a senior at University of Pennsylvania, interned at Scripps Networks and VH1.

If you’re a minority college sophomore, junior, senior or graduate student, apply to the T. Howard Foundation Internship Program. Applications are due no later than December 1, 2015.

If I had to use one word to describe what the process is like for securing an internship in the media and entertainment industry, it would be: HARD. With so many people applying to internships via the online application portals of major media companies, it can feel like your resume can easily become lost in a black hole with thousands of other applications. Well, at least that’s how I felt. Luckily, being admitted into the T. Howard Foundation talent pool changed everything for me.

It was as if the T. Howard Foundation (THF) reached into that black hole of applications, pulled mine out, and placed it on the desks of hiring managers at dozens of prestigious media companies. In other words, THF acted as the liaison to make sure my application was actually seen. As a result, I secured multiple interviews at a number of top media companies, and ultimately received an offer for my first media internship in the Content Distribution & Marketing department at Scripps Networks Interactive in New York. Sure, anyone can apply to these internships on his or her own, but having THF advocate on your behalf makes a world of difference.

But T. Howard Foundation benefits don’t stop at securing internships in the media Shayla Cole_1industry. Once I was chosen as an intern at Scripps Network, my experience as a THF intern versus the experience of a “regular” intern proved to be quite different. Starting with THF’s Summer Intern Orientation, the Foundation provided me with a network of fellow interns, a mentor working in the media industry and numerous other networking opportunities.

I suddenly found myself in a situation where my network of intern friends extended beyond the walls of Scripps Network, to a variety of top media companies throughout New York City and other major cities across the country. There was even a T. Howard Foundation New York Intern GroupMe where we planned social gatherings, shared our daily internship experiences and posted interesting opportunities.

As a THF intern in 2014, I was able to rejoin the talent pool in 2015 and was offered another internship at Viacom, working in the consumer marketing department for VH1.

The T. Howard Foundation opens doors for minority college students to be noticed in all aspects of the media industry. This type of opportunity creates job prospects for after graduation, leading to a fulfilling career in media.

Shayla Cole (THF ’14, ’15) is a senior marketing and operations management major at University of Pennsylvania. She is a fall intern at NBCUniversal in the ad sales department in New York, commuting from Philadelphia to the internship twice a week. Shayla is also a co-chair for THF’s Campus Ambassador Program, recruiting other students to apply to the Internship Program.

Tamara Hall’s Persistent Networking Leads to HBO

Tamara Hall, Comm 465 and 481, Spring 2014The importance of smart networking is an aspect of career building that is expertly conveyed to minority students participating in the T. Howard Foundation Internship Program. Tamara Hall, a 2013 summer intern at Comcast, leveraged her contacts into her first job in the media industry.

While studying broadcast journalism at Penn State University, Tamara attended a THF information session in Fall 2012. Excited about the prospect of receiving hands-on experience in the media industry, she applied and was accepted into the Internship Program’s competitive talent pool. In March 2013, Tamara received an interview request from Comcast, and was offered a summer internship in the deployment support department at the company’s headquarters in Philadelphia.

Opportunities Knock in Every Department
Based on her college major and career interests, Tamara was hoping to be placed in the production department at Comcast. But instead of being disappointed that she had been assigned to deployment support, Tamara viewed this as an opportunity to learn about the business operations of a media company.

As Comcast was introducing new internal software during Tamara’s internship, one of her major responsibilities was to assess call center employees’ response to the new program. Her team traveled to one of the company’s call centers in Utah to evaluate the use of the system. Tamara seized an opportunity to expand her role by asking her manager if she could video record the call center interviews. This would provide video evidence of the project, to which could be referred in the future. Her manager agreed and she recorded some of the interviews during the weeklong stay in Utah.

After her summer internship ended, Tamara returned to Penn State to complete her final year of college and began making plans for a career the media industry. “I was traveling back and forth to New York on my little paychecks just to meet with people, to have lunch and learn about their jobs,” said Tamara about her focus on networking.

a6-2THF Provided Guidance and Networking Opportunities After Internship
Through her internship and by attending T. Howard Foundation events, Tamara built a network of media professionals. At the Foundation’s 2014 Diversity Awards Dinner, Tamara met Sharita Petersen, a writer and producer for BET Networks. Through this interaction, Tamara landed an internship in BET’s creative services department right after she graduated. The awards dinner is also where she began networking with HBO staff members, including Carla Moore, Vice President of Talent Acquisition.

All T. Howard Foundation interns receive a complimentary yearlong membership to the National Association for Multi-ethnicity in Communications (NAMIC). Through her membership, Tamara volunteered at the 2014 NAMIC convention, where she again spoke with Carla Moore. Moore introduced her to two human resources representatives from HBO, and later contacted one of the recruiters about an open position. “She sent my information to the position’s hiring manager, and now that manager is my boss.”

Networking and Follow-Up Leads to Full-Time HBO Position

Tamara Hall with Andre Holland (from Cinemax's (and HBO company) "The Knick"

Tamara Hall with Andre Holland from Cinemax’s (an HBO company) “The Knick”

In December 2014, Tamara became an executive assistant in creative services at HBO. The position requires that she support the production and marketing units. It combines her interest and background in production as well as skills honed at Comcast. She feels that the position will allow her to transition to other areas, and her manager has encouraged her to enhance her editing skills through training funded by the company.

Although she has landed a job that she enjoys, Tamara continues to network. “I gave myself a goal to meet with at least two people from a different department at HBO every month.” Working in a large department, Tamara says, can be challenging, but she knows firsthand the value of building relationships.

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: 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.

Mentor Finds Inspiration from T. Howard Interns

Andrea Houston

Media industry veteran Andrea Houston has volunteered her time and expertise as a T. Howard Foundation Internship Program mentor since 2012. As Vice President/Senior Integrated Investment Manager at Universal McCann (commonly known as UM), Houston is responsible for marketing clients through buying commercial time during television and radio broadcasts.

Having witnessed the evolution of media during her 30-year career, Houston believes she can be a resource to newcomers eager to learn the ins and outs of the ever-changing industry.

Last summer, Houston was paired with Pearly Hidron, a then-rising senior at Baruch College and ad sales analytics intern at NBCUniversal. Because they work in similar functions of the industry and their offices were physically close to each other, Houston and Hidron initially met for lunch. “I shared with her some of the things that would help her move along in her career, including reading trade publications to get a sense of how fast the industry moves.”

After their initial meeting, they communicated by phone and email over the course of the summer and still keep in touch. Houston recalls that “she was interested and very attentive, and ‘leaned in’ to the conversations and was appreciative of the time.”

Andrea Houston (right) and her mentee, Pearly Hidron, THF '14 (center), with Jannath Ahmed, THF '14 (left)

Andrea Houston (right) and her mentee, Pearly Hidron, THF ’14 (center), with Jannath Ahmed, THF ’14 (left)

Also of Pearly Hidron, Houston remarked, “She was very refreshing and inspiring to me; she shared an excitement of being in the business.” As a mentor, Houston wanted to ensure that Hidron wasn’t intimidated by the industry and encouraged her to reach out with any questions and share updates.

Before becoming a T. Howard Foundation mentor, Houston had mentored young professionals informally—mainly friends of her children and young people at church. She finds the organized mentorship program ideal.

“It is evident that the T. Howard Foundation is highly selective and has a structure in place to choose individuals for internships and carefully match them with mentors,” said Houston. “I participated in a breakfast with other T. Howard interns last year, and it was inspiring to interact with such high-quality students.”

If you have at least two years of professional experience in the media industry, please consider serving as a T. Howard Foundation mentor. Complete the mentor registration form.

Alumni Spotlight: Kamilah Gray: Industry Contacts Matter–Part 2

Read Part 1 of Kamilah Gray’s journey from T. Howard intern to global media marketing professional at Bloomberg.

Inspired by her THF internship experiences, Kamilah Gray returned to The University of Georgia and formed an organization to connect students to entertainment and sports organizations, including THF. 10517676_10153353427999616_880649289622566954_n

Opened Doors for Classmates Upon returning to UGA for my junior year, I created the Professional Entertainment & Sports Association (PESA) at UGA’S Terry College of Business. The purpose of PESA is to provide a network for highly motivated and passionate students who are committed to the pursuit of business careers in the television, film, music, theatre and sporting industries.

Due to PESA’s presence on campus, students have interned and landed jobs in the media industry through THF and companies that never previously visited UGA, such as Creative Artists Agency.

After graduating from UGA in 2012, another THF alumnus and UGA student, Michael Asmelash, took over as PESA’s president.

All Contacts Count
After my internships, I stayed in touch with the T. Howard Foundation team and attended THF’s annual Diversity Awards Dinner, where I was able to touch base with former interns and network with media industry professionals.

I joined Bloomberg Media in November 2012, after numerous interviews with other media companies. I actually found out about my position through Twitter; a friend tweeted the position to me, I clicked on it and sent in my application.

It just so happened that the person who interviewed me at Bloomberg had previously worked for AMC Networks and had close friends at Time Warner Cable.

Little did I know, my T. Howard connections were falling into place.

A few days later, my interviewer invited me back for a second-round interview. He told me that he called his friend who works at Time Warner Cable (my former boss’s boss) and that person spoke to him about my work at TWC, securing my references for the position.

After two interviews, I was offered the position at Bloomberg, having never provided them with references.

We don’t use titles at Bloomberg, but I do global media marketing for Bloomberg Media. I report to the Global Head of Marketing and Sales Operations and am charged with executing marketing initiatives to generate leads and increase sales across our media properties (video, live TV, news, data and photos) worldwide.

I manage the editorial content and promotional activities across all of our social media channels, execute email campaigns to drive leads, develop marketing collateral for the global sales team and coordinate our global events.

T. Howard Creates Opportunities
The T. Howard Foundation gave me my passion for the media industry; it ignited the flame that allowed me to set a lofty (and aggressive) vision for my career path. Through THF, I have met and been inspired by so many women who not only look like me, but have risen to C-suite and senior executive positions and set a course for young professional women to follow suit.

These role models have inspired me to achieve the grand visions I set for myself–and I look forward to doing so.