There has been much written lately about improving the diversity of the workforce in the media business and across all U.S. corporations. We've been down this road before, so pardon my skepticism, as we've been talking about this for 30 years and only baby steps have been taken.
If you are an HR director at an agency or media company, I have some free advice that will save you time, money, AND improve the quality and diversity of your workforce. You should contact the IRTS (not the IRS) now and begin using them as a resource for potential job candidates.
The IRTS Foundation (International Radio and Television Society) has been serving our industry for 54 years, and yet I would argue that very few people understand the great value it provides. Most people across our business know the IRTS for its summer internships and their annual fundraisers… the Newsmaker Media Buyers Breakfast during Upfront season and the Hall of Mentorship dinner. Fewer people are aware of just how successful they have been in attracting and retaining top talent for our industry through their annual, 2-day Multicultural Career Workshop and their prestigious 9-week, Summer Fellowship Program.
The IRTS screens over 1500 applicants every year and places them in summer internship positions with companies across the media industry. The application process is intense, and it attracts only the most promising applicants. Approximately two-thirds of the 33 finalists accepted into the program come from diverse backgrounds. These kids are the best of the best, and anyone who has interacted with recent participants in the program will attest to this. The 9-week program includes travel to and from New York, housing, a paid internship, and ancillary educational experiences.
Here are some impressive success metrics… 90% of the IRTS summer interns return to the media business following graduation, AND they remain in the business for at least 5 years… There are approximately 1000 people across our industry that "graduated" the IRTS Fellowship Program. The retention rate of IRTS graduates can be attributed to a couple of factors. First, the program truly educates the participants about the media business, and they "graduate" with a very positive view of it as a potential career path. Second, it provides them access to senior level execs (many of them IRTS Board members and past graduates of the program) who are willing to share their time and mentor them. Third, it places them within top companies across our industry. Fourth, the small, dedicated team at the IRTS has continued to improve and refine the program, the selection process and the NYC experience for the Summer Fellows.
Unbeknownst to many, the IRTS has undergone a substantial transformation over the past 3 years. Like many successful charitable organizations, competition for funding had been increasing. Also, the IRTS Board membership and leadership was not reflective of the very diversity the IRTS was espousing. Under the leadership of outgoing Board Chairman Jack Myers, a new course was charted to address both of these concerns.
So, if you're at an executive level in our industry consider "paying it forward" by underwriting the cost of a summer fellow ($7500). Name the fellowship in honor of someone who mentored you, and indicate that you would like the recipient selected from your alma mater. You'll be doing a good deed which guarantees you'll end up in "The Good Place"
And, if you are a HR director, consider this… the IRTS has a database of outstanding candidates. They accept 3% of those people interviewed, and the next 100 candidates who didn't make the cut would still be in the top 10% of all those kids they screened or interviewed. These candidates are available for you to source.
Finally, a couple of thank you's… Thanks to IRTS Diamond Donors, Active International and The Nielsen Foundation for their generous, on-going support. Most importantly, thanks to long-time IRTS CEO Joyce Tudrin for her dedication, enthusiasm and energy in leading the organization. Thanks also to VP Lauren Kruk-Winokur who oversees the academic programs and is a great inspiration for all the Summer Fellows.
Please contact Joyce for more info at firstname.lastname@example.org
Photo at top: IRTS Summer Fellows Class of 2017
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