The T. Howard Foundation is one seriously cool organization with a simple mission: Promoting diversity in media. Their goal is to develop the next generation of professionals working in media and entertainment by partnering students of color with industry-leading companies like HBO, Time Warner, NBCUniversal, and Viacom. In short: The T. Howard Foundation helps connect qualified young professionals with incredible internship opportunities.
I recently spoke with Doris Liang, Jared Leong, and Iris Raiken, three students who took part in the program last year and interned with TruTV, to help get a better idea of their experience and the day to day of their internship. What these students shared sounded like an amazing opportunity to not only gain valuable hands-on experience but to make some lasting connections that will help these Emerson superstars soar into the professionals they’re destined to become!
How did you find out about the T. Howard Foundation?
Doris: I actually found it through Emerson Career Services after an email was sent about their info session. It was kind of funny – my sister actually sent me the same link from Career Services and said “Oh, they’re going to Emerson!” so I thought I’d check it out. I went to their website and did some research and then went to the info session and applied. Everything sort of fell into place after that. I wouldn’t say it was luck – I put a lot of work into it – but my being accepted to the program definitely felt like the right timing.
Jared: Interestingly enough, I don’t really remember how I found the T. Howard Foundation – I think it must have been social media or something I was scrolling through. I kind of applied to the program offhandedly. I understood what the program was but I don’t think I understood how powerful or impactful the program really was at the time.
Iris: If I have to be honest, I first saw Doris post about it and it sounded like an interesting experience to me. I had an internship at the time but it wasn’t with a video or media company at the time and I really wanted to get that experience before I graduated college so I looked more into the program and decided I was going to apply for it the next semester.
What was the application process like?
Doris: Well, after the info session, I learned how to apply and sent in my application and eventually they asked for a Skype interview. After that, they emailed me with a congratulation that I was in the final applicant pool and then from there they just started matching me up with different internships and opportunities and helped me send my resume on.
Jared: It begins with a typical online application. You have to send in your resume, your transcript, your objectives, and there are a couple of essay questions to do. And then after that, they reach out about an interview – mine was [also] through Skype… They asked me a lot of questions about what I wanted to do and how my ideals aligned with the program’s ideals, which the T. Howard Foundation’s goal is to diversify media. So they asked how I will work toward that goal and how I will affect that positively.
Iris: The application process wasn’t as terrifying as I thought it’d be. It mainly consisted of talking about my past experiences working in video production or my leadership experience in general. I answered a few short answer questions about my personality, my work habits, and my experience. Prepping for the interview definitely was more daunting… so what I did to prepare was create a document of some of the things I’ve done in the past – some of the organizations I’ve worked with, some of the titles I’ve had, and some stories about any conflicts I might have faced in my life. And I organize it so then I’d be prepared to have them in front of me during the interview in case I get stuck or lost in my mind.
What was your role during the internship and what were some of your responsibilities?
Doris: So I was in the same position for the two years I interned there – I was the Production Intern. When I started my supervisor told me that this was not your typical on-set production assistant kind of job. The production department was more production management so I was looking at schedules and deliverable dates, reviewing a Master Bible of when cuts come in. That was really what drove me to accept it – it was exactly what I was looking to do.
Jared: How it worked was… initially, the role I accepted was titled On-Air Promos Intern. I quickly realized the On-Air Promotions title is more of a remnant of the TV past where everything was so focused on commercials and digital wasn’t as big as it is today. So [my role] kind of evolved into this Creative Services Intern and Creative Services is kind of like this in-house promotions team in terms of branding and promoting TruTV… This involved a lot of working on things that they called episodics, the week to week episode promos, and promotions for Comic-Con and how we got involved with that. Essentially I was an idea generator and starting the process for bringing those ideas to life.
Iris: At TruTV I was the Creative Operations Intern and at first I had no idea what that meant, but I learned that it was helping organize the planning of marketing strategies for their video promotions specifically. While Jared was more in charge of assisting the producers and writers who are involved in creating the ideas, I was more involved in making those ideas come to life in a sense… I would watch over promos that were made for Quality Control and making sure they’re good to go on air. I would also make slates to help the editors organize what promos they’re making because they have 20 different versions of one promo – that’s something I didn’t realize how much work goes into it… I was actually able to write a promo for one of the shows they had and it actually went to air. That’s probably the biggest highlight for me because I’ve never really had writing experience and that was an amazing chance to get some.
Do you have any advice for students interested in applying to the T. Howard Foundation?
Doris: I would just say do it. You have nothing to lose and it’s such a great opportunity for every person that’s eligible for it. Their mission is so great and if you have a heart for that, T. Howard is a really great starting point. They don’t just help you find internships, they guide you along the way and, even after you graduate, they will still be there as a resource. They will help send your resume along even if you’re an alum looking for work after college.
Jared: In terms of advice, for people who want to do any creative work, you have to be creating things all the time. If you stop creating or you think you’ve done enough in terms of making a portfolio, you’re probably wrong. Things are always changing. Creating things hones your craft and when you do apply to internships and jobs your portfolio is like 75% of what they care about. So just keep creating and don’t stop. And whatever you create, make sure it’s your own perspective!