Tag Archives: entry-level talent


Interview with Rena Tom of Makeshift Society


Some people may know Rena Tom as a business strategist consulting with product designers, while many others know her as the Founder of Makeshift Society San Francisco… and now Makeshift Society Brooklyn.

Makeshift Society is a clubhouse for creative freelancers and a space to sustain low-growth businesses. With the “make, learn, teach and think” motto at the core of the space, Rena Tom talks with Creative Interns about how she’s bringing that motto to Brooklyn.

Creative Interns: What made you create Makeshift society in San Francisco?

Rena Tom: I was doing consulting work, some in-person and some over the phone. I was having trouble finding a place to work, so I started renting space at Workshop during the daytime hours when no one was there. While renting the space, I was sitting there basically by myself. Over time, I found myself at the coffee shop more and more just to be around people.

I started talking to my friends who were independent workers, bloggers and designers and I realized we were all in the same boat (wanting to engage with others while working). So I decided I would make a little office space for people and the more people I talked to, the more people wanted to be involved with the space. And so it evolved into a working space – Makeshift Society.


CI: Why did you decide to expand to Brooklyn?

RT: As soon as we opened in San Francisco, we were getting a lot of requests all over the country saying this is a great idea and wishing we were in their city. My friend, Bryan Boyer, was moving to New York and was interested in developing another Makeshift location.

CI: Do you feel Makeshift Society Brooklyn will contribute to the growing creative digital space that is happening in Brooklyn?

RT: Definitely! That’s the reason why we thought it would be ideal to have our second space in Brooklyn – sort of a hub for the east coast. Brooklyn has an enormously large creative population, especially in the freelance side and it does have a good tie to San Francisco. We are there for the independent consultants and entrepreneurs in Brooklyn – designers who want to remain freelance; photographers who get hired to take product shots; or copywriters who are brought in to work on a collection.

CI: Will there be opportunities to work directly with Makeshift Society Brooklyn?

RT: There will be employees on site and we would like to take on interns in marketing, event planning and programming. Beyond that, we are leaving a lot of it up to the members and the companies we will be partnering with.

CI: When can emerging creatives expect to use the Brooklyn space?

RT: We are depending on the completed construction of the site, but first quarter of 2014 is our goal.

For more about Makeshift Society Brooklyn, connect with them on twitter: @MakeshiftSocBK



Job-hunting Nightmares


Job-hunting can be daunting, even frightening. While emerging creatives may have encountered their own scares today, here is a list of “job-hunting nightmares” we’re releasing into the universe this Halloween – don’t read them alone…

  1. Realizing your dream job is with your former internship employer – yes, the internship employer that you never stayed in contact with
  2. Creating a video reel of your amazing work, sending the reel out to prospective employers and then realizing the reel video has a glitch
  3. Finding a job, spending time crafting the perfect cover letter and then realizing the job posting has been taken down
  4. Realizing a job prospect went to your spam mail and now it’s just too late
  5. Interviewing for a job, thinking you nailed the interview and then getting the “we’ve filled the positon” notice
  6. Online job applications and systems that seem only to exist to cause job seekers even more pain
  7. Months of applying, networking and no leads
  8. The well known recruiter who says “you’re perfect for the job” and then suddenly disappears
  9. The reference that never really refers you (be careful of who you ask)
  10. You’re current employer finds out your on the job search before you even give notice (yikes)

Can you think of any other job-hunting nightmares emerging creative professionals may encounter? 


What My College and Grad School Degrees Didn’t Teach Me


It has been officially five months since I completed my Masters program and two years since I completed my undergraduate career. Within these last two years, I learned things about myself, my career and future that a college or grad school degree couldn’t teach me. The courses of life are ones you have to sign up and pass on your own.

Progress is a process
I’ve heard this cliché over and over, but the past two years it has rung louder than ever. Trust, that wherever you are in your life it is exactly where you’re suppose to be. The Dalai Lama said it best, “I find light in the darkest of days, and focus in the brightest. I do not judge the universe.”

Always educate yourself
After completing my Master’s thesis in May 2013 I didn’t want to touch another communication ethics book or social media journal article for months. I knew that wouldn’t last for long. Every week, I’m checking the latest blogs for industry trends and searching what book I can get my hand on next (Now reading: The Personal Touch: What You Really Need to Succeed in Today’s Fast-Paced Business World by Terrie Williams). If you are no longer in school, you still need to educate yourself and continue to perfect your skills. Complacency in the global marketplace is not an option.

Keep Family close
My father has had a constant battle with his health for years, but over the last two it has become progressively worse. This alone has taught me to keep family close. We often get so busy or even caught up with “our circle” that we tend to see family only on big occasions – weddings, reunions, birthdays, etc. The saying “family over everything” has always meant so much to me, but even more within the last two years.

A wise person once told me, “the best education is seeing two worlds and comparing it.” See the world and all it’s wonders. The last two years I embarked on trips to Cozumel, Mexico, Labadee, Haiti, Toronto, DR and some american cities learning their culture and tasting their food — simply experiencing life outside of my home in Brooklyn. Emerging creatives, now is the time to travel and see the world – the time when we have less obligations (children, etc). I can’t wait for the places I’ll visit in the coming years. #LiveLoveTravel

Be of service
As young professionals and creatives, we often get so caught up in our career journey that we forget to serve others. Whatever community or group you decide to serve is up to you. “Your service to others is the rent you pay while on earth.” As you continue to climb the ladder of greatness, take others with you.


Fall Season = New Beginnings


The cool air outside is the tantalizing warning that fall is rapidly approaching. With the fall season comes new beginnings: the new school year, internships, jobs and more. This read is for the young professional looking to turn this fall into a way to jump-start their personal journey and professional path.

Attend events

Feeling like your network is getting a little stale? Make it your goal for the fall to attend at least three events per month to expand who is in your network. Let others besides those in your circle know your work ethic.

Pick up a great self/professional development book

Head to your nearest bookstore and pick up a self or professional development book to inspire you or to take your particular skills from level five to level ten. The Start-Up of You by Reid Hoffman and Ben Casnocha is a great blueprint that allows you to adapt to the world of work and to transform your career. Produced By Faith by Devon Franklin is a phenomenal book promoting how to stay grounded in your faith and beliefs while accelerating in your career.

Have Fun

As a young emerging professional, sometimes we forget the most important thing – to have fun. This is your 20s (your most crucial years) and these are the times where exploring is most necessary. Create a bucket list and check things off. Travel to new places. While your professional life is important, don’t forget about what’s most important – your personal growth.


The NEW Purpose of Fashion

Verneda White HUMAN INTONATIONVerneda Adele White is the Founder and Creative Director of HUMAN INTONATION, a charity-driven, premium apparel brand that uses fashion as a platform to raise awareness for social and human rights issues like HIV/AIDS prevention, rebuilding New Orleans and educating children in Darfur. Creative Interns has the story of how an emerging creative talent became a dedicated entrepreneur by turning her single vision into “The NEW Purpose of Fashion”.

Creative Interns: What inspired Human Intonation?

Verneda White: Two separate events that happened close together drove the development of Human Intonation – my family’s experience with the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in August 2005 and the death of my close first cousin to AIDS in February 2006. I first started designing T-shirts for Hands on New Orleans, our longest existing non-profit partnership, to promote volunteerism in the Gulf Coast following the hurricane. I wanted to do something constructive with my energy and create a positive project out of my experiences that would be beneficial to others. Today we support four causes in total.

CI: As the founder and creative director of Human Intonation, where do your creative ideas flow from?

VW: Inspiration comes from a combination of things from the missions of our non-profit partners to researching new colors and textures. My first objective is to create quality garments with a creative design that carries the message of the causes we support into everyday life: how can we create a call to action or start a conversation about these issues? I also graduated from Cornell University with a Bachelor of Science in Textile and Apparel Management, and some of my creative ideas stemmed from there in terms of garment construction and sourcing organic and environmentally sustainable fabrics.

CI: After just recently celebrating your five-year anniversary, what would you attribute the success of your business to?

VW: 99 percent is having the sheer determination to make it happen. As a small business owner and social entrepreneur, you have to be determined to do things most people aren’t willing to do. The other 1 percent I would have to say is really knowing your business – trial and error and taking those lessons learned in order to do things differently next time. Some of the things I am doing now were not on my radar five years ago. For example, if you asked me five years ago if I envisioned writing my own blog for the Huffington Post or speaking to high school students across Brooklyn I would have told you no.

CI: What was your most recent event/endeavor? What do you hope to do next?

VW: On August 19, 2013 we hosted our five year anniversary celebration, “For the Love of Life: Human Intonation”, where we presented our new collection of women and men t-shirts, tank tops, and dresses from which we donate 20 percent of the proceeds from each sale to our non-profit partners. After the event we were able to highlight the evolution of Human Intonation over five years and what is next for the brand.

I want to focus more on our community programs and expand on our workshops for teens and adults. On our business side, I want to continue to grow our wholesale partnerships. What is unique about our brand is that we have created our own T-shirts/wholesale line where we can produce the t-shirts for any occasion (we’ve created special edition shirts for the National Black Leadership Commission on AIDS and others). This piece of our business really helps us to move forward and expand.

CI: What advice would you give to emerging creative talent?

VW: First and foremost, learning your craft is key and it will help you to successfully execute. You need to be able to provide value to your customers and create something that is memorable.

Secondly, take your time. Sometimes I get so passionate about what I’m doing that I get ahead of myself and it has not been beneficial for me or our team. The opportunity for greatness will always be there, so take your time.


To support Human Intonation, shop www.humanintonation.com. You also have the option of donating directly to the organization’s non-profit partners


Time Management 101


Ok seriously, your day-to-day tasks have become overbearing and you’re beginning to feel like you have no time to breathe (that may be a bit of a problem). It is time, to refocus your energy and truly practice real time management so you’re not feeling the dreaded “burn-out”.

Plan each day

Plan out your day the night before and that will help you feel more control of your life. Write a to-do list, putting only the most important tasks at the top. On your to-do list include the time of when each task should be completed to avoid spending too much time on a task and to minimize last-minute rushes.


Take a look at your to-do list and consider a task that you possibly can pass to someone else or even seek help. The best projects weren’t built by one individual.

Limit distractions

Block out time on your calendar to do big projects – like an analyst for your boss or a major term paper. During that time, turn off your phone, iPad, email and focus solely on the project. Yes at work you can put on an automated message on your phone and email to get a large project done on time.

Evaluate how you’re spending your time

Try something different: Keep a diary of everything you do for three days to determine how you’re spending your time. Spending three hours surfing the Internet with no purpose? Maybe take one of those hours to exercise, another to hang out with family or friends. Your three-day diary track will show you how you need to spend your time more wisely.

Create a healthy environment

Get plenty of sleep, exercise regularly and have a healthy diet. A healthy lifestyle will improve your focus and concentration, which helps to improve your efficiency so that you can complete your work in a reasonable time.


PR Life: In-house vs. Agency

PR professionals – What is it about in-house or agency PR that made you decide that particular path for your career?

inhouse vs agency pr

In the field of public relations, you always hear the age-old debate about what is better: in-house or agency life. The many factors that play into this debate are the number of clients, hours spent in the office, leadership roles, the company’s culture and the possibility of “burn-out”. As a growing professional, you may be searching for the right fit – whether in-house or agency. Explore what you can expect from both to see where you would like to start your PR career.


Typically at an in-house company or organization you are working on one particular client and becoming totally immersed into the company/organization. Since there are fewer clients when doing in-house PR, the team is often smaller. With a smaller team, it is possible for your boss to see your work ethic possibly granting you more opportunities within the company.

In regards to hours and the pace of work, it is said that hours are more predictable and the pace is slower than the agency side (but this is PR and hours are never usually that predictable). According to PRWeek, Kevin Taylor the founder of Robertson Taylor PR says “variety and pace of work are the two most obvious things that differ in agency and in-house life.”


At an agency, you are juggling different clients and accounts exposing you to different PR strategies based on the need of the client.

While working on various clients you may also have the opportunity to manage and lead team members as you progress throughout the agency. Most agencies, like Edelman for example, consist of the following positions Assistant Account Executive (AAE), Account Executive (AE), Senior Account Executive (SAE) and so forth. With a larger team dynamic, you have the opportunity to brainstorm with more individuals allowing you to grow as a young professional.



Ending Your Summer Internship

goodbye summer internship

As the summer days wind down and we prepare for fall, summer internships are coming to a close. You rocked your internship – especially given the internship tips we provided earlier in the summer – and it is time to end it with a bang. Here are some tips to end your summer internship the right way.

Ask for an Evaluation

What good is an internship if you can’t learn from it? Even if it isn’t required, ask your internship supervisor for an evaluation of your work all summer. With an evaluation you will be able to know the areas you did well in and what you may need to improve on as a growing professional.

Create a Portfolio

All summer you have been working on so many projects and you wouldn’t want this hard work to go in vain. Save all your projects and documents from the office desktop onto your personal drive so you have endless access to all your work from the summer. At the conclusion of your internship, you will be able to make a physical and online portfolio.

Send a Thank You

Many interns leave their internships without sending a mere thank you email to their boss. Be sure to thank all those who played an influential role during your internship – those at the company/organization you worked for and even anyone who may have helped you to land the internship. A thank you never goes unnoticed.

Stay in Touch

With all those relationships we encouraged you to build, it is now time to keep those relationships pass your internship. Stay in touch with those you have connected with at your office. Always remember your network determines your net worth.


Isabel Herrera: VH1 Production Intern

VH1 Intern

Isabel Herrera was born and raised in Manhattan, New York and is a senior Television, Radio and Film major at Syracuse University. Throughout her educational career, Isabel has successfully aligned herself with different production opportunities working with PBS, HBO and now… VH1.

Creative Interns: How did you land your internship at VH1?

Isabel Herrera: I applied for the Vh1 position through the Viacom Company by submitting my résumé online. I listed three companies I thought would be ideal for me depending on my interests, skills sets, and order of preference. I chose Vh1 as my first choice, because I believed it would be an excellent place to learn about the television production process. A few weeks later, a Syracuse Alumna contacted me and we scheduled a telephone interview. I immediately followed up with him and within three weeks I was offered an internship in their Digital Production Department.

CI: What is a normal day like for a VH1 production intern?

IH: The Digital Production Department is one of the smaller divisions at the VH1 channel, and because of this I was able to learn a lot more than I initially expected. Another plus is that I was the only intern within the department, so I did not split responsibilities with other interns. My daily duties vary depending on my schedule. The days we are scheduled to shoot, I am on set assisting with equipment-set up, camera and audio check, emergency errands for the producers, and breaking down after the day’s wrap. On other days, I will help the producers with editing cuts, or select clips I considered to be useful for smaller videos of on-air shows. My experience at VH1 has been incredible, and so pertinent to the production background I am beginning to cultivate.

CI: What specifically motivated you to go into video and media production?

IH: After completing several internships with large media production companies, I’ve realized that my dreams of becoming a producer are not as far-fetched as I thought. My seed for motivation stems from a place that as a storyteller, makes me physically, emotionally and mentally invested into the career path I want to pursue.  I specifically chose production, because producers oversee the unfolding process of a vision from beginning to end, and that’s exactly what I really respect about this career. Sometimes, I step away from my work after a long day and really think “I can’t believe I’m really part of a such a cool job” and I want to continue to extend this feeling. So my motivation is the rush I feel when I am invested and part of a vision larger than myself.

CI: What tips would you offer an undergraduate looking to apply to a post-graduate internship or entry-level position in your industry?

IH: Undergraduates should look into smaller departments, because they often result in the most rewarding professional experiences. You will eventually get to the large position you want to attain, but it’s important to tend to the small steps NOW, while you’re young and still growing than backtracking at a later point in your career. Also, working in a smaller department will help you prove yourself to your boss and provide many more opportunities to step up to larger responsibilities. This can help you become much more independent and grant you the kind of professional growth you aspire to have. I also want to stress the importance of following up with someone after an interview, and being sincere with the kind of work you want to get into when you have the opportunity to do so. Never fill a position for the sake of its title, because you will ultimately end up with less that what you’ve bargained for.


Life + Times of Christen V. Westbury: Discovery Communications Development Intern


Christen Victoria Westbury is a recent Bachelor of Science and Masters graduate of Syracuse University and current intern at Discovery Communications in the development department. Born in Columbia, South Carolina but “bred” in Silver Spring, Maryland, Christen adapted the art of persistence and dedication making it easier to land this internship. Explore with Creative Interns on how Christen landed the internship at Discovery, what a normal day is like and her advice to future graduates.

Creative Interns: What are the steps you took to land your internship at Discovery? 

Christen Westbury: I have been fortunate enough to been given my third internship opportunity at Discovery Communications. I attribute this to not only maintaining relationships within the company, but also continuously putting my best foot forward every time I have stepped foot into Discovery’s Headquarters. Additionally, when applying to this internship I made sure to not simply rely on being a previous intern, but to rather focus on what more I had to offer the company for this specific summer.

CI: Tell us about your internship experience at Discovery. What is a normal day like for an intern?

CW: A normal day as a Discovery Development intern is fast-pace, exciting, rewarding, but most importantly all about storytelling. No matter if you are working to help develop a current project, or striving to create your own, it is always about what you can add to a story. In addition to helping create great narratives for TV, I am also constantly absorbing everything I can about the Television world.So while working on my daily projects, I am also reading trade magazines, news websites, as well as watching the trends on social media. Essentially on a normal day, I am doing all I can do to help my team, while simultaneously being a sponge, soaking up whatever knowledge about the industry that I can find.

CI: What specifically motivated you to go this direction in your career?

CW: I graduated from Syracuse University with a B.S. in Advertising and ultimately thought that this was the world I would live in. However, one day I really sat back and did some soul searching to really figure out what my gut was telling me. I began to realize that the art of selling a product to consumers wasn’t my passion, but rather the television programming itself. It was undeniable to see that my heart really lied with the stories that I had seen over the years on TV. Whether it was the many conflicts and resolutions in ‘Degrassi’, or Jack Bauer racing against time in ’24’ it was always about the story. With that said, my love for great narratives, is what ultimately motivated me to pursue a career in development. It is where the initial spark occurs, and it is where good things become great.

CI: What tips would you offer an undergraduate looking to apply to a post-graduate internship or entry-level position in your industry?

CW says:

  • Shy away from “networking”, and focus on building true relationships.
  • Be consistent and proactive because most people give up their pursuit far too soon.
  • Pick up the phone and call people. Our generation has gotten too comfortable with technology, emails are not the only option.
  • Absorb every ounce of knowledge about the field you are entering, because knowledge is power and whatever you don’t know, someone else in your same position, does.
  • Most importantly, have faith in yourself. Know that you are capable of accomplishing your goals and understand that everything takes time. Just because you do not immediately fall into your ideal job/internship, doesn’t mean it wont come at a later date. Timing is everything and great things take time.

CI: What’s your dream job?

CW: My dream job is to be a Television Development Executive at a major cable network. I want to develop programming that audiences will remember for a lifetime. I want to be one of the people behind the shows that shatters normality, introduce innovation, and create paths that others will want to follow.