T. Howard Foundation “Squads Up” With 80 New Interns at Media Boot Camp

Nearly 80 minority college students from top institutions across the country joined together for the T. Howard Foundation’s Summer Intern Orientation last week in Silver Spring, Md. Billed as a Media Industry Boot Camp (#THFSQUAD), the students selected for THF’s highly competitive internship program participated in interactive sessions to fully prepare for their summer media industry internships and future careers.

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DAY ONE
Jamie Washington, M. Div., Ph.D., President and Founder, Washington Consulting Group, opened the annual 2 ½ day orientation by having the students leave their seats and their comfort zones to speak with at least five students they had never met. Each student then chose a partner—again, someone they didn’t know— to answer the question: What do you see in your day-to-day interactions on campus or at your internship that necessitates conversations about diversity and identity?

“You have to be ready to show up and engage in diversity in an authentic way.”—Jamie Washington, Washington Consulting Group

After taking their first professional headshots, the students participated in a human resources session. Suzie Araujo, Senior Manager, Talent Management at Discovery Communications and Tiffany Lan, Human Resources Generalist at AMC Networks advised the students in scenarios on how to appropriately turn down a job offer, handle inappropriate/offensive comments made by a colleague, ask for a potential endorsement for a position they’re interested in pursuing, how to best work on team projects and cross-generational collaboration.

The interns learned about employee resource groups—also known as diversity councils and affinity groups—where employees of marginalized identities can find communities and build connections. Led by Jamie Riley, Ph.D., Assistant Dean of Students & Director, LEAD Center, University of California, Berkeley and Alethea Spencer, Media Operations professional, Discovery Communications & Lead Co-Chair, Asian Cultural Alliance, the interns were urged to participate in such groups at their internship host companies that foster a culture of inclusion.

Day One closed with an engaging panel discussion on networking, led by Reynaldo Casas, Entertainment and Media Professional; Mercy Chikowore, Communications Manager, Washington Area Women’s Foundation; Howie Hodges, Vice President, External Affairs, Time Warner Cable; and Claritza Jiménez, Digital Video Editor, The Washington Post.
The panelists provided interns with realistic expectations of networking relationships by sharing their own real-world experiences. Highlights and advice from the panel included the importance of:

  • Developing long-term relationships with professionals. It is not enough to simply exchange business cards with someone in order to land a job. Build quality relationships through networking.
  • Networking with peers and supervisors rather than having the sole goal of meeting executives. Build networks across—not just up.
  • Defining the objective of their internships and approach the opportunities with a clear strategy. Take deliberate steps to make most of the summer experiences.

DAY TWO
Sabrina Garba, Founder & CEO of the Glass Ladder Group, kicked off Day Two of Summer Intern Orientation. Though the orientation serves as a media industry boot camp, the information she provided is critical for young professionals entering the workforce in any industry.

Garba kept it real with the students regarding business communication and personal presentation. She highlighted the generational shifts that workplaces in all industries are experiencing—that interns will work with up to four different generations and four different communications styles.

“Always be authentic, but always show up at your best for the company you’re working for.” —Sabrina Garba, Founder & CEO, Glass Ladder Group

The media industry is one that is constantly changing, and Michelle Rice, Executive Vice President, Content Distribution and Marketing at TV One, explained the current state of the media industry and how it is impacting employees and consumers at all levels. The traditional TV model has been disrupted, and 50 percent of consumers now binge watch their favorite programs. Networks are using content to create experiences and change the game.

Christine Creighton, an instructor with Speakeasy, conducted an interactive presentation on how to effectively speak in public settings and deliver powerful, authentic and clear presentations.

UC Berkeley’s Jamie Riley, Ph.D. returned for Day Two to facilitate a discussion with interns on workplace gender inequities. Luis Clemens, Senior Editor for Diversity, NPR, also shared lessons and insights he learned from a long career in journalism. The students engaged in conversations that explored our gender binary system (masculinity vs. femininity, male vs. female), increasing overall self-awareness.

A highlight of each Summer Intern Orientation is for current THF interns to interact with THF alumni who leveraged their internships to gain full-time employment in the media industry, and how THF assisted them in doing so. This year’s alumni panel included Kelsey Howell (THF ’10), Marketing Strategy Manager, Discovery Communications; Soon Kwon (THF ’05), Writer/Producer, Showtime Networks; Brandon Putnam (THF ’12), Marketing Specialist, Monumental Sports & Entertainment; and Lamar Smith (THF ’11, ‘12), Associate Producer, Discovery Communications.

Day Two ended with a reception for students to continue practicing their newly acquired networking techniques with media industry professionals and THF alumni.

DAY THREE
On the final day of orientation, the students broke the ice with each other by highlighting one person in the group of 80 who they didn’t know prior to attending orientation. They introduced that person, sharing one thing they learned about him or her and something they admire and respect.

Following the icebreaker, the students participated in a discussion about their first steps toward to financial independence, led by Michael McGowen of Mylestone Plans.

The THF summer experience is not all work and no play. At the end of the final morning, the interns broke off into groups based on their internships city (NYC, Atlanta, DC, Philadelphia and Los Angeles). The individual groups elected social chairpersons from each city to plan activities in which the T. Howard Foundation interns could participate together over the summer.

Following Orientation, the students traveled to their internship cities to begin their career journeys in the media industry—well prepared and motivated.

T. Howard Foundation Diversity Partners (Nielsen, Grey, MSG Networks, NPR and Reuters) sponsored this year’s Summer Intern Orientation.

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T. Howard Foundation Introduces Record Number of Minority Interns to Media Industry

The T. Howard Foundation welcomes a record number of minority college students to the media and entertainment industry through its Summer Internship Program. Representing 52 colleges and universities throughout the United States, a record 97 college juniors, seniors and graduate students have been placed in internship positions at 34 media companies in New York, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Washington, DC, Atlanta and Charlotte.

Since 1994, the T. Howard Foundation (THF) has served as a resource to both the media industry as well as nearly 800 minority college students interested in pursuing careers in the industry. By introducing the students directly to industry human resources professionals and recruiters via the Internship Program, more than 150 THF alumni have gone on to gain full-time employment in various media and entertainment industry business functions following college graduation.

The Foundation continues to grow its relationships with media and entertainment organizations and has extended its reach to non-traditional sites as the industry continues to evolve. This year’s 34 internship host sites include traditional media companies, as well as two new partners: the National Basketball Association and Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts’ digital media department.

This year’s internship class convened in Silver Spring, Md. from June 2-4 for THF’s annual Summer Intern Orientation. Media industry professionals facilitated interactive personal and professional development sessions, including:

  • Leon Harris, News Anchor, WJLA-TV (Washington, DC)
  • Keith Woods, Vice President, Diversity in News & Operations, NPR
  • Jullien Gordon, Founder & CEO, New Higher and author of The Innerview

Sessions were presented on the evolution of both the consumer and the media industry; an overview of the many departments and business functions within the industry; career options in specific fields; effective networking techniques; understanding the recruitment process and how to stand out amongst the competition while job searching and interviewing; interpersonal communication and business writing; financial planning; and THF alumni (and current industry employees) offered tips for students to maximize their internships and prepare for careers in the industry.

View a slideshow below of this year’s Summer Intern Orientation.

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