When I was in the eighth grade, I was one of the thousands of homeless children in New York City. I was constantly moving from shelter to shelter.
At that point in my life, attending college and having a successful career did not seem nearly as important as worrying about where I would be sleeping at night.
Luckily, I was raised by a mother who encouraged me to work hard and get an education so I would not have to live through this struggle again. The adversities I faced growing up, along with my mother’s strong, positive influence inspired me to pursue a better future for myself.
During high school, I joined Sponsors for Educational Opportunity, an organization that helps students from underserved communities access opportunities to attend college and start a career. This organization helped me earn a six-week scholarship for Syracuse University’s summer college program, which ultimately let to my enrollment as a full-time student at Syracuse University.
I worked hard in college, and in the summer of 2017, my dedication and determination paid off when I applied for a Viacom summer internship and was selected to work with Nickelodeon’s project management department.
Before joining Nickelodeon, I did not know what media industry project management was. As an avid viewer of many Viacom channels, I thought shows simply developed from scripts, and ended up on our TV screens without too much effort. I did not realize that such a lengthy process occurs before media is released to the public. Project managers liaise between multiple teams and departments to schedule routing dates, shoots and launches. They also prepare and provide detailed summaries of every meeting they attend, which allows their colleagues to be aware of what’s going on in their own department, and stay responsive to work being done in other areas of the company.
“Before I began this internship, I didn’t consider project management as a career I’d like to pursue. Now, I’ve realized that Viacom’s project managers are people that I’ve always aspired to be: leaders.”
– Avonna Zheng, Nickelodeon Project Management Intern
Much of the work that project managers do flies below the radar, separate from the glamour typically associated with the entertainment industry. But project managers take on key responsibilities to ensure the success of their teams, and ultimately the success of our shows and movies.
Before I began this internship, I didn’t consider project management as a career I’d like to pursue.
Now, I’ve realized that Viacom’s project managers are people that I’ve always aspired to be: leaders.
I aspire to be a leader for my family and friends, a leader in my scholars program, a leader in my school, a leader to my mentees, but most importantly a leader to the 24,000 children in New York City who are still homeless.
I am fortunate and thankful to Nickelodeon’s project management team for welcoming me with such enthusiasm and teaching me so much this summer. Thanks to this internship, I learned how to improve my organizational skills by planning meetings and creating briefs for their meetings.
My mentors helped me begin planning my future career, and showed me all the awesome opportunities that come through the internship program at Viacom—like getting to share my story on a company platform.