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.

Record Number of Media Professionals Celebrate Diversity at Annual Dinner

Tribute to ESPN’s Stuart Scott is emotional evening highlight

On Wednesday, March 25, a record-setting 720 people representing all business functions of the media industry came together to celebrate diversity at the T. Howard Foundation’s (THF) 22nd Annual Diversity Awards Dinner, held at New York’s Cipriani Wall Street. THF recognized major media corporations and executives for their consistent support of the annual dinner and outstanding leadership in the area of diversity.

ESPN's Sean Bratches and Susan Scott, sister of the late ESPN anchor Stuart Scott
ESPN’s Sean Bratches and Susan Scott, sister of late ESPN anchor Stuart Scott

A highlight of the evening was a tribute to the late ESPN sports anchor Stuart Scott and an announcement of the establishment of the Stuart Scott-T. Howard Foundation Internship at ESPN. Scott was a long-time THF friend, supporter and three-time Diversity Awards Dinner emcee.

Rosalyn Durant (THF ’97, ’98), T. Howard Foundation Board member and VP, College Sports Programming, ESPN, introduced a tribute video to Stuart Scott. His sister, Susan Scott, accepted a commemorative plaque presented by Sean Bratches, EVP, Sales & Marketing, ESPN, and reflected on the impact her brother made on all whose lives he touched.

Roland Martin, Host and Managing Editor, NewsOne Now, TV One, emceed the Diversity Awards Dinner program for the second time.

THF also saluted the internship class of 2014, the students’ host company partners and acknowledged new hires.

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

Michael Schwimmer, CEO, Fuse Media, right, after Charlie Ergen, left, presents the Executive Leadership Award.Michael Schwimmer, CEO, Fuse Media, right, after Charlie Ergen, left, presents the Executive Leadership Award.

Executive Leadership Award
Michael Schwimmer, CEO, Fuse Media

As CEO of Fuse Media, Michael Schwimmer oversees cable television networks NUVOtv (formerly SíTV), the premier English-language destination for Latino entertainment, and national music network Fuse.

Charlie Ergen, Chairman and Co-Founder, DISH Network, served as a Diversity Awards Dinner Chair and presented the Executive Leadership Award to Michael Schwimmer.

 

Ozzie_TylerOzzie Areu, right, accepts the Champion Award for Tyler Perry.

Champion Award
Tyler Perry, Filmmaker, Actor and Philanthropist
Accepted by Ozzie Areu, President, Tyler Perry Studios

Tyler Perry is an established American actor, director, screenwriter, producer, playwright and author. In 2012, he teamed up with Oprah Winfrey in an exclusive deal to bring scripted programming to the OWN network.

Diversity Partners Awards
The Foundation presented its first Diversity Partners Awards to non-board member companies that have supported the Diversity Awards Dinner for more than four consecutive years.

The Foundation presented its first Diversity Partners Awards to non-board member companies that have supported the Diversity Awards Dinner for more than four consecutive years.

T Howard Foundation 22nd Annual Diversity Awards Dinner
Dane Snowden, right, accepts the Diversity Partners Award for NCTA

National Cable & Telecommunications Association (NCTA)
Accepted by Dane Snowden, Chief of Staff

NCTA is the principal trade association for the U.S. cable industry and has supported the Diversity Awards Dinner for nine consecutive years.

T Howard Foundation 22nd Annual Diversity Awards Dinner
Dan Rather, right, accepts the Diversity Partners Award for AXS TV


AXS TV

Accepted by Dan Rather, Anchor and Managing Editor, Dan Rather Reports

AXS TV is the cable industry’s leading general entertainment network for live event programming and is a premier destination for some of the nation’s biggest music festivals. AXS TV has supported the Diversity Awards Dinner for five consecutive years.

The evening’s program featured a balance of media industry newcomers and veterans, including:

T Howard Foundation 22nd Annual Diversity Awards Dinner
THF’s Rising Star, Soon Kwon, right, poses with emcee Roland Martin

THF’s 2015 “Rising Star”: Soon Kwon, THF ’09 (Showtime Networks), Writer/Producer, On-Air Promotion and Digital Content, Showtime Networks.

Award and tribute presenters:

  • T Howard Foundation 22nd Annual Diversity Awards Dinner
    Jordan Stewart, right, presents the Champion Award to Ozzie Areu for Tyler Perry

    Jordan Stewart, THF ’13 (Smithsonian Channel), and former intern, Tyler Perry Studios

  • Ismabel Cueto, THF ’12 (nuvoTV), Human Resources Coordinator, Amplify
  • Priscilla Aviles, THF ’10, ’12 (Univision, Discovery Communications), Ad Sales Planner, DISH Network

The Diversity Awards Dinner also included a silent auction featuring more than 30 national media-related items and experiences, with all proceeds benefitting the Foundation’s programs and services.

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Alumni Spotlight: Alicia Biggs–Intern to Award-Winning Producer

Alicia BiggsAlicia Biggs arrived at Morgan State University with a passion for television and an internship already under her belt, having worked with Howard County Government Television in Columbia, Md. while in high school. She chose to major in communications with a concentration in television production at Morgan State, and continued to intern throughout her college career (Maryland Public Television and TLC), including an internship through the T. Howard Foundation.

Alicia she learned about T. Howard through her professors and postings on campus. She believed that it was an opportunity to take seriously because it was a paid internship and the application required a written statement, as well as recommendations. The diligence in which she prepared her application paid off and she was awarded an internship with the Independent Film Channel (IFC) for the summer of 2003.

In New York, Alicia gained experience throughout various departments at IFC. “I spent two weeks in each department, including affiliate marketing, public relations, finance and development,” recalls Alicia. The rotating schedule exposed her to the various functions within the company and allowed her to become immersed in different areas. Her range of responsilibilties were varied from “monitoring budgets for finance to writing press releases for PR, to screening pitch videos in development and putting together PowerPoint presentations for affiliate marketing.”

After the T. Howard/IFC internship, Alicia returned to Morgan State to complete her senior year and secured another internship on her own with FitTV, a Discovery Communications channel. The internship turned into a full time job, as Alicia was hired as a Production Assistant with the channel after college graduation in 2004.

Since securing her first full-time position in the media industry, Alicia’s career has continually progressed. “I worked at FitTV for a year, and then I moved on to TV One and spent three years there, was promoted to Associate Producer and from there I jumped over to the National Geographic Channel as a Writer/Producer and spent four and half years there, was promoted, and then moved to Discovery again as a Senior Producer/Senior Writer.”

Alicia BiggsAlicia’s second stint at Discovery ended when she was hired as a Senior Producer at Wee Beastie, a New York creative agency, in January of this year. In this role she writes, shoots video and produces branded entertainment for television networks. One of the agency’s clients is her former employer, National Geographic, and Alicia’s work has garnered multiple Telly and Promax Awards. Last month, she received the 2014 Promax Award for the Discovery Channel/Miller 64 “Shark Week” integration. The Promax is the most coveted award for promo producers.

Of her THF experience and its impact, Alicia says, “The T. Howard experience had a huge impact on my career. The Foundation really gave me a unique experience of working in four different departments in our industry; not a lot of people have the opportunity to get a bird’s eye view into these different departments. From that experience, I learned that I actually really loved public relations and development, which surprised me.” She points out that it is important for students to learn about the range of opportunities in order to gain a better understanding of the media industry, and of which aspect they want to pursue for a career.

Alicia maintains ties with the Foundation by having served as an internship orientation panelist several times and mentoring THF interns over the years. She is also personally committed to the Foundation’s mission of increasing diversity within the media industry. “Having worked in this industry for 10 years, there are actually a lot of women in marketing, but there are very few people of color who are at the executive levels. I feel passionate about getting as many people of color and as many women into this industry as possible. Therefore, I am a huge supporter of the T. Howard Foundation.”