Leveraging access to a wealth of intellectual property inside Washington, DC and that of cable industry professions from around the US who convened for The Cable Show, the Walter Kaitz Foundation presented the 2013 Millennials Master Class to young adults at the fulcrum of education, career and opportunity.
Over a hundred 18-24 year-old students of color from Year Up, a year-long workforce development program, met and mingled with the cable industry’s top professionals of color and distinguished guests including, US Representative Chakah Fattah (D-PA) 2nd District and Dean C. Garfield, President & CEO, Information Technology Industry Council (ITI).
In a Congressional Welcome from Fattah to the capacity-filled room, students were reminded that hard work pays off. “I lost my first race for Congress in 1991. But I won in 1994. Setbacks are really stepping stones for a comeback,” said Fattah. “If you apply for a job and don’t get it, you work harder for the next one,” he added.
In fact, hard work is what earned these aspirational young men and women an opportunity to experience a day of career insights and insider access led by Debra Langford, CEO, The Langford Company.
Year Up provides access to opportunity to higher education and jobs for urban young adults who are willing to work hard. The organization specializes in IT skills development, partners with government agencies, and facilitates full-time internships with companies to develop a highly qualified entry talent pipeline.
“This was the first time that we have ever connected at this level with a full day of programming with experts with an array of companies,” said Meredith Jaremchuk, Senior Director of Program at Year Up
The Luncheon Keynote was delivered by Garfield, who is also one of The Root’s 100 most influential African Americans in 2011, and recipient of the first REACH Breaking Barriers Award in 2010. He encouraged participants to develop important science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) skills that are critical to tomorrow’s talent pipeline. “I can’t think of any sector that is more exciting and better to be a part of. In my own career, I’ve been to more countries than states,” said Garfield stressing a world of opportunity. A champion for STEM skills development, Dean is the top advocate for the information industry, and has an extensive background in the entertainment industry. Prior to joining ITI, Dean served as Executive Vice President and Chief Strategic Officer for the Motion Picture Association of American (MPAA) and Vice President of Legal Affairs at the Recording Industry Association of America.
“What was so powerful about [Garfield] is that he made something that looked unobtainable, look obtainable,” said Langford.
In the first session, Getting Your Point Across Quickly, Langford gave students an opportunity to give their “Elevator Pitch” by inviting unsuspecting participants to present a 30-second resume. Simulating an interview by The Travel Channel, Langford queued up the students with questions such as, “What are you favorite shows on Travel Channel and why?” The lesson: “do your homework and be sure to talk about why you want to work for the company where you are interviewing.”
Lee Gaither, EVP & General Manager, The Africa Channel, distributed that bit of sage advice as part of the high-powered panel assembled for the day’s opening session titled, Expanding Your Horizons. Students quickly became industry “insiders” as panelists laced their comments with shameless plugs for their current projects as they each described a typical day at the office ranging in detail from what time they get up each day, to the length of their commute, from the range of emails they deal with on a daily basis, to the meetings and even phone calls they must field. In describing what does a CMO do, Kennetta Bailey, EVP and CMO, TV One, talked about the power of social media, defined the “second screen experience” and why she loves Viggle. Ric Whitney, Head of VOD/EST Content & Affiliate Marketing, Intel Media described his daily morning commute on a flight either to San Jose, CA or New York from his home in Santa Clara, CA giving him lots of time to prep for a day full of meetings.
Berto Guzman, Vice President of Affiliate Sales and Marketing, nuvoTV confessed to the class, “I hung out in the lobby of advertising agency and did my first elevator pitch in an elevator. It was mostly about my passion since I had never had any experience. I was simply selling myself. I thought I was a total fool. Two or three months later the woman that I pitched called because she remembered me.”
That’s what Chris Powell, President, Cable & Telecommunications Human Resources Association (CTHRA) asked participants in the day’s second panel, Insights from the Inside, a discussion on hiring trends. “Competition is not just the person you see. It’s the person you don’t see,” added Powell. Tim Goodly, Senior Vice President of Human Resources, Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. emphasized that point, asking participants “How do you show up?” While Tyler Benjamin, Vice President of Global Talent Management, Discovery Communications, Inc. offered his ‘dress for success’ tip using the analogy of sports team uniforms to the rules of corporate America. DeRetta Cole, Vice President of Human Resources, Turner Broadcasting Systems, Inc. counseled that “if you are asked in an interview, what have you failed at, remember there is nothing wrong with failure. Talk about your perseverance.”
Between sessions, students engaged with industry executives for face-to-face conversations during a Networking Lunch including panelists such as Kenetta Bailey, Jackie Gagne, Director, Multicultural and College Marketing, HBO; Ajamu Johnson, Senior Manager, Supplier Diversity, Comcast; Rahman Khan, Director Recruiting Strategy, Time Warner Cable; Jack Masih, Project Champion/Principle Analyst, Comcast; Sherrice Smith, Membership Co-Chair, NAMIC Mid-Atlantic; Curtis Symonds, CEO, HBCU Digital; Jason T. Williams, Senior Director, Global Consumer Products Business Operations, Viacom; Ryan Williams, Manager, Foundation Outreach, NBC News; and Joelle Williams-Patience, Director of Production, BET Networks Creative Services.