Montez Flenoury: THF 2017 Rising Star

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Montez Flenoury at THF’s 2012 Summer Intern Orientation

Montez Flenoury first discovered the T. Howard Foundation’s Internship Program as a freshman at University of Georgia. Find out how THF was instrumental during his college years, and how he landed a full-time position as Associate Booking Producer for NBC’s The Today Show, and chosen as THF’s 2017 Rising Star.

We sat down with Montez at last month’s annual Diversity Awards Dinner, prior to his Rising Star speech.

I was a freshman, pre-journalism major at UGA and joined the National Association of Black Journalists on campus. I knew I had a serious interest in media, and a THF staff member visited campus to present to our group. I thought THF was something I’d be interested in, so I spoke with my career advisor and I applied. I went through the interview process and was selected for an internship. I was initially concerned because I didn’t have experience, but after the semester ended, I was selected for an internship in the sales operations department with Turner Network Sales in Atlanta.

At Turner Network Sales, my responsibilities included working on organization charts. I attended meetings and I met quite a few THF alumni who had become full-time employees. I worked on marketing projects and also attended a number of events.

Two THF Internships Provided Career Clarity

As a rising senior in 2012, I secured another internship with Cartoon Network. I had decided to major in public relations, and sought an internship where I could obtain PR experience, still in the media industry. Since Cartoon Network is part of the Turner family, I spoke with the THF team to see if my internship could be converted to a THF internship. Fusing Cartoon Network and THF, I was able to have a great second internship experience, coupled with the valuable information I received at Summer Intern Orientation.

In my Cartoon Network internship, I worked on a major project from original conception to completion as a true member of the team.

THF Interns are Their Own Network
The word “network” doesn’t always get the recognition it deserves. As a THF intern, there are numerous opportunities to meet, connect and build relationships with a lot of different people. We tend, however, to underestimate the network we have with our THF class interns, in addition to meeting executives. The new THF interns are working in the media industry as well, and can be great resources now and in the future.

With THF, the resources are incredible, and I received a Scott Weiss Scholarship that helped me study abroad. The staff was always there to help me and connect me with others. The staff has so many partners in different business functions within the industry.

THF Alumni Status Opens Doors
Just before graduation from UGA, I attended the 2013 THF Diversity Awards Dinner in New York. I was in the process of interviewing for NBC’s page program at the time, and I spoke with an NBC executive at the dinner. I asked him for suggestions on how to get farther along in the interview process. I think this contact and others helped me to be selected for the page program. That was extremely instrumental to beginning my journey with NBCUniversal.

After working as an NBC page for a year, I became a production assistant for The Today Show. I later worked for The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, and now I’m back at The Today Show as an Associate Booking Producer. In my current role, I book guests that a team of producers wants to have on the show. These guests range from news guests to people from the world of politics and entertainment.

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.

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.

Rosalyn Durant: From Intern to Board of Directors

Rosalyn DurantRosalyn Durant arrived as a freshman at the University of South Carolina in 1995 determined to make her dreams of becoming a television news anchor a reality. She declared broadcast journalism as her major and during her first year of college she began seeking opportunities to gain experience in a newsroom.

As a first year student, Rosalyn was ineligible to earn academic credit for an internship, however she seized the opportunity to shadow staff members at WOLO-TV, Columbia, S.C.’s ABC affiliate. While observing the day-to-day operations at the station, she gained valuable hands-on experience. “I had a chance to go out on stories with reporters, run the teleprompter for the six o’clock news and rewrite AP stories [Associated Press] for broadcast.”

Her strong desire to gain as much experience as possible while in college propelled her into another shadowing opportunity at WYNN-FM, a Florence, S.C. radio station. The station did not have a formal internship program or any open positions, so Rosalyn negotiated an opportunity to shadow the staff, which led to her becoming a trainee and eventually an on-air personality.

During her sophomore year in college, Rosalyn attended the Howard University School of Communications Job and Internships Fair where she met a representative from the T. Howard Foundation. Rosalyn followed through on the opportunity to intern via THF and landed her first official and paid internship at Turner Broadcasting in Atlanta, working for Turner Network Sales during the summer of 1997.

At Turner, her supervisors “invested the time to help me understand the industry by giving me access to different meetings, information and people to help me make sense of all I was being exposed to, ” recalls Rosalyn.

The exposure to the sales division and the business side of the media industry was transformative for Rosalyn. “I knew I loved media, and broadcast is what I knew of [the industry]. One of the best things about the internship at Turner was that it introduced me to the business side; the side that I knew very little of before the internship. It’s hard to want what you don’t know exists, but once I experienced it, I wanted it.”

When Rosalyn returned to school that fall, she added marketing as a minor and economics classes to her schedule to increase her business acumen.

Now focused on the corporate side of the media industry, Rosalyn decided to return to Howard’s job fair the following year and seek out additional internship opportunities, hoping to secure an experience with ESPN. The network was present at the job fair, and so were T. Howard recruiters. Rosalyn shared her résumé with an HR representative from ESPN and again applied for a T. Howard Foundation-sponsored internship expressing her strong interest in working at ESPN. Through THF, Rosalyn received the opportunity to interview with the sports network.

In the summer of 1998, she began her second T. Howard Foundation internship and her second internship at a national network, working in ESPN’s affiliate sales and marketing department.

Rosalyn recounts her ESPN placement as “everything I could have wanted from an internship. I just felt that everyone took an interest in ensuring that my summer was productive and made themselves available to help me get the most out of my time there. That team spirit is what led me to want to return to ESPN.”

Rosalyn maintained contact with the team she worked with at ESPN once she returned to USC for her final year of college. One month before graduating, she received a full-time job offer from ESPN, and began working there as a marketing coordinator in June 1999. Rosalyn has remained with the network for 15 years. During her tenure, she has worked in sales and programming, and was a key figure in the launch of ESPNU and the renewal of the NBA’s agreement with the network. She has risen through the ranks, and in early 2014, Rosalyn became the Vice President of College Sports Programming at ESPN.

Rosalyn has also remained connected to the T. Howard Foundation by mentoring students and says the Foundation has supported her throughout her career. In 2010, she became the first internship program alumnus to become a member of THF’s Board of Directors and was elected to serve as the board’s secretary in 2013.

Rosalyn credits the Foundation with changing the course of her professional life. “The T. Howard Foundation absolutely redirected my career interest for the better. I am extremely indebted to the organization.”  

Through her success and commitment to THF, Rosalyn Durant truly represents the principles of the organization. “I am a product of the Foundation’s mission at work.”

 

T. Howard Foundation Showcases Media Leaders at Diversity Awards

Members of THF’s internship class of 2012 attended last year’s Diversity Awards Dinner.

For the 21st year, the T. Howard Foundation (THF) will bring together top media industry leaders at the Foundation’s Diversity Awards.

At the Foundation’s annual dinner, taking place on Wed., March 26, 2014 at 6 p.m. at Cipriani Wall Street in New York, THF will recognize media corporations and executives for outstanding leadership in the area of diversity. Additionally, the T. Howard Foundation will salute its most recent internship program class and acknowledge their host company partners.

The following media industry leaders will be honored at this year’s Diversity Awards Dinner:

Corporate Excellence Award
Turner Broadcasting System, Inc.
Accepted by John K. Martin, CEO

Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. has been a THF media partner since 1994 and has increased financial and internship program support over the years. Turner has demonstrated its commitment to presenting quality programming and content that reflects and respects the diversity of its global audience.

Innovative Program Award
Comcast|NBCUniversal, for Internet Essentials
Accepted by David L. Cohen, Executive Vice President, Comcast Corporation

Internet Essentials is the nation’s most comprehensive broadband adoption program. It provides families with children eligible to receive a free or reduced school lunch the opportunity to purchase low-cost Internet service, a low-cost computer and to participate in digital literacy training either in person, in print or online.

Champion Award
Salaam Coleman Smith, President, Strategic Initiatives, Cable Entertainment Group, NBCUniversal

Ms. Coleman Smith, as past president, led the Style Network, growing it into a prominent cable destination for young, diverse, female audiences.

“The T. Howard Foundation is extremely proud to recognize Turner Broadcasting System, Comcast|NBCUniversal and Salaam Coleman Smith for demonstrating their commitment to diversity in the media industry and the community at large,” said Jo Pamphile, THF President & CEO. “We are also delighted that so many of our internship program alumni are now working full-time in the industry, and we will continue to work with our industry partners to ensure that those numbers continue to increase.”

Chairs for THF’s Diversity Awards Dinner include the following media industry executives: Coleman Breland, President, Turner Network Sales; Jacqueline Hernandez, COO, Telemundo Media; Ray Hopkins, President, Television Networks Distribution, CBS Corporation; and Charisse R. Lillie, Vice President, Community Investment, Comcast Corporation and President, Comcast Foundation.

The evening will begin at 6 p.m. with a reception and silent auction. Following the 7:30 p.m. dinner and program is a dessert reception.

Individual tickets and corporate tables are available for purchase. To reserve a seat or a table, contact Maria Ducheine at 212.997.0100, ext. 214 or mducheine@projectsplusinc.com.

The First Class: Torrae Lawrence-Mitchell

“You were not just an intern who got the coffee, but you were that intern with a specific job. The expectations were a lot higher. (Management) looked at (THF interns) as individuals who were there to learn and they wanted to help educate us about the industry.”

Torrae Lawrence-MitchellTorrae Lawrence-Mitchell’s interest in the media industry developed while she was growing up in New York watching the classic NBC sitcoms “The Cosby Show” and “A Different World.”

“The shows were fascinating, but I was more fascinated about the production of the programs.”

Convinced that she wanted to be a director similar to her idol Debbie Allen, Torrae followed in her footsteps and attended Howard University in Washington, DC and minored in theatre, Allen’s major. However, a summer spent as a T. Howard Foundation intern would change the course of her career.

Approaching her senior year at Howard, Torrae became aware of the opportunity to apply for a THF internship from Carol Dudley, Director of the Office of Career Development in the School of Communications. Torrae completed the THF application and interview process and was invited to intern in the Showtime Event Television division of Showtime Networks, now known as Showtime PPV.

During the summer of 1995, the division’s major project was Mike Tyson’s return to boxing after a stint in prison. Torrae described her duties as being responsible for “making sure that all the cable operators across the country were signing up to air the fight as well as tracking the sales.” Her efforts produced $250,000 in incremental revenue. “It was a huge success for that division of Showtime and it was the most that they had ever sold during that time for any event,” she explained.

This experience proved to Torrae that her niche was in not production after all, as she learned something new about corporate America and the field of marketing that she assumed she would not enjoy. “It was the exposure to that side of the business that really helped transition my thought process.”

After the internship, Torrae returned to Howard to complete her degree in communications and prepared to launch her career. She utilized the relationships and great reputation that she built at Showtime to land a job after graduation. Torrae’s career has taken her to positions at Discovery Communications and American Life TV Network. For the past six years she has held positions at Turner Broadcasting System, and currently serves as Director, Brand Revenue and Account Management for Turner Network Sales.

As Torrae continues to rise through the ranks of the cable industry, her ties to the T. Howard Foundation remain strong, by serving on the scholarship committee and as a frequent panelist at the orientation sessions.

Torrae was among that first small group of THF interns who blazed the trail making it possible for the internship program to continue to flourish today. Torrae says of the Foundation’s brand, “I believe that the T. Howard Foundation’s motto is well known throughout the industry as being a platform to help students start their careers versus just an internship that you have over the summer. THF is really there to help individuals get in the door and show what they have to offer to the company.”