By Alicesa Miller
For as long as I can remember, it has always been my dream to go to Howard University. Howard University is one of the top Historically Black Colleges/Universities (HBCU) in the country, and is “the dream school” for a lot of soon to be college students due to the amount of opportunities it offers.
On October 26th, 2017, Delaware State University and other HBCU’s like Morgan State and Lincoln Universities were all invited to attend Howard University’s job fair for all Mass Communication majors. At this specific job fair, there were different panels hosted by people who already work in industry, followed by a networking session consisting of more than twenty employers sitting at their own tables.
One of the panels at the fair was, “Landing A Job in TV News” which consisted of four panelists, who each got to tell their stories on how they became successful, and their role in the media industry. Just by listening, it’s wasn’t hard to tell that everyone’s story wouldn’t be the same. One of the panelists, whose story resonated with me was Jennifer C. Thomas, who is currently a Mass Comm. professor at Howard University and the former executive producer for CNN. I could relate to her story–from her upbringing and some of the struggles she faced when she first started out in the industry. One thing that stood out to me in her speech was when she said, “patience is key and everything will happen at the right time, and at just the right speed.
Majority of the time, most people are not always blessed with a job or position suitable to their interest.” I also learned that it’s okay if one doesn’t automatically get a job in one’s field right after graduating college, but it is up to one to stay persistent afterwards.” That really stood out to me because that’s really the reality for many students who recently just graduated college.
Another very interesting topic the panelists touched on was some of the many hardships they faced in their careers. Though each panelist’s experiences were different, they all did share the common factor of all working in a predominately white male industry. “Often time when you stepped in a room, you would be the only person of color and sometimes they might even use that against you” Terri Tolliver (one of the panelists) stated. Terri Tolliver also explained that sometimes her thoughts and opinions were pushed aside and not even acknowledged by her peers. She mentioned that sometimes her “white” coworkers would come to her for thoughts and opinions on things from an African-American stand-point, which made her feel uncomfortable on numerous occasions.
Another panelist, Kia Baskerville, also shared her experience as being the only African-American female in her workspace. One of her very embarrassing moments involved her being at a conference where there was a black speaker and amongst her many white coworkers, she was chosen to ask “Do you think you’re the new leader for the black race.” She explained that she was so humiliated and felt everyone in the room staring at her while she asked that ridiculous question.
After the panel discussion, I was left more motivated and inspired from what I was before. It was people who looked and talked liked me, attended similar schoolings and probably had the same struggles as me too. Lucky enough, I was also able to build and make conversation with two of the panelists, Jennifer C. Thomas and Terri Tolliver, who gave me sufficient advice on how to perfect my craft as well as tips on how to make it in the industry. I was also contemplating on changing my concentration from journalism to radio and tv/radio production and Ms. Thomas gave me advice and explained to me that journalism is the foundation for Mass Comm. and you need to know how to write no matter what you do in this field.
After the panels, it was the actual job fair that contained more than twenty companies/employers. There were people from NBC, Facebook, Google, and more all at this convention. Since this was my very first time at something like this, I was very nervous and struggled with coming up with different questions to ask these employers. Though I’ve been on several interviews, this experience was very different because I was the one controlling the conversations with the employers, and asking all the questions.
Some questions I asked were, what are you looking for in an intern? What is the typical day like for an intern? What kind of hours am I expected to work as an intern for your company? And, do you have an office located in New York? Since I’m originally from New York, it was very important for me to try to get a job there since that’s where I plan to stay during the summer.
Surprisingly after talking to some of the employers, I learned that if one were chosen as an intern they are even willing to fly you out on an all-expense paid trip to whatever destination you’re to put to work.
I took full advantage of this amazing opportunity. As a transfer student here at Delaware State University, one of the main reasons I came here was for the amazing opportunities the school has to offer me, especially as an African-American woman. I was truly amazed by the different jobs and opportunities that are within the Mass Comm. field, especially since it doesn’t get as much recognition as the other majors. For the remaining of my time at Delaware State, I do plan on going back to Howard’s job Fair to help get connected with all these many employers.