Viacom’s Campus to Career department oversees Viacom internships, post-graduate programs and entry-level opportunities. Going Places is the department’s latest series on intern success stories, featuring interns who have achieved full-time employment opportunities at Viacom and Paramount Pictures. In the first installment of Going Places, Campus to Career interviewed Samantha Kestenbaum, Office of Global Inclusion (OGI) Coordinator, to chat about her experience. Kestenbaum interned at Viacom during the fall and spring of 2017.
Campus to Career: Hey, Samantha! Thanks for making the time to chat. Can you tell us a bit about your background?
Samantha Kestenbaum: I went to Hunter College and majored in political science, minoring in English and women and gender studies. Early on in my college career, I wanted to be a lawyer! That changed quickly for me as I explored internships, took new courses in school and learned more about career opportunities in media.
Having a career working in diversity and inclusion wasn’t an opportunity I was aware of, but once I landed my OGI internship, I immediately knew it was a match because it combines many of my passions. I’ve been at Viacom ever since.
That’s great! Glad you were able to find your passion so early in your career. What drew you to Viacom?
A friend of mine from college interned here and had the most incredible experience, so I hoped I’d be able to land a Viacom internship as well. Working in media was always a goal of mine because, like so many millennials, I am media-obsessed and value the art of storytelling.
Working at Viacom seemed like the perfect match for my skills and personality, and is also the home of many of my favorite shows.
We’re so glad you made it here! When you first started your internship, what questions did you have? Were you nervous about anything?
This was my first internship, so I was very new to the corporate world. I tried to learn as much as I possibly could, and asked questions about anything that was unclear. Sometimes I would hesitate to ask questions in attempt to not be a bother, but I reminded myself that interns are not supposed to know everything; in fact, internships are a learning experience.
This curiosity benefited me in the long run, because I was able to learn a lot of information quickly. Just a few weeks into my internship, I felt qualified and capable. My supervisor [Director of Global Inclusion Stephanie Phelps] was a great role model every step of the way.
It’s awesome that you had such a great relationship with your supervisor. Can you tell us more about this experience?
Stephanie was, and continues to be, an incredible mentor. She supported my growth from day one, and knew exactly what my aspiration was…to join her team full time after graduation!
Stephanie encouraged all types of professional development opportunities, from setting me up on informational interviews to inviting me to join her in meetings with senior-level staff. She never shied away from including me wherever possible, and is a key reason for my continued success here at Viacom.
Having a supportive mentor is the best! Beyond developing a great relationship with your supervisor, do you have any specific advice for interns as they begin the summer semester?
Be as proactive as possible. This can seem like a cliché, but it is so important to show your team you are resourceful, savvy and willing to lend a hand wherever needed. Going above and beyond in your assignments and taking initiative will truly make you stand out in any department.
If you have a great idea for a project and find yourself with some downtime – bring it up to your manager! Even if it fails, you still will have attempted it and learned something new in the process.
Thanks so much, Samantha! This advice will be super helpful to the new class of interns. We’d love to wrap up with a fun question…what is your favorite Viacom show?
That is tough! My favorite brand would have to be Nickelodeon because it is so nostalgic for me. My favorite show at the moment would be Comedy Central’s Broad City, but I also love all of VH1 and MTV’s reality programming! VH1’s dating shows have been a staple in my life forever, and I still crack up watching them to this day.
This story is part of our series on intern success stories featuring interns who have gone on to full time opportunities at Viacom and Paramount. Stay tuned for more every Tuesday this summer, and follow us on @ViacomInterns to watch the interviews!