TU students got to tour PBS headquarters as part of the Tiger L.E.A.P. job shadowing program
One of the main goals of Towson University is to make sure its students are ready for life after college. That includes finding ways to give students “real world” experience.
To help students with their potential careers, the Career Center created the Tiger L.E.A.P. program, which allows undergraduate students an opportunity to connect with alumni, parents and employers for one day job shadowing opportunities.
Started in the Spring of 2019, the Tiger L.E.A.P. (which stands for learn, experience, apply and practice) program provides students a chance to explore potential career fields by experiencing a “day in the life” of an industry professional.
Since the program launched, Tiger L.E.A.P. has successfully matched over 150 students with industry professionals, a majority of the hosts being TU alumni looking to give back to their fellow Tigers.
“The program is so important to students as it gives them the chance to explore potential careers by seeing what a ‘day in the life’ may be like,” says Leah Fondersmith, experiential learning coordinator for the Career Center.
“It can be one thing to read about careers online, see them on television, or hear about them in the classroom. But to see them in action through a shadowing experience is a unique perspective that can be really valuable and eye-opening.”
One eye-opening experience that students got to participate in over winter break was getting a specialized tour of the PBS Headquarters in Arlington, Va.
The tour was set up by alumnae, and PBS’ Senior Director of Video Strategy Jennifer Hinders ’09. The tour included discussions with President and CEO Paula Kerger, and Chief Digital and Marketing Officer Ira Rubenstein. The students also got to tour the PBS NewsHour studio, along with a Q&A session with members of the NewsHour team.
When she learned about the Tiger L.E.A.P. program, Hinders was eager to volunteer PBS as a host. During her eight years at the public broadcasting network, she made it her goal for PBS to inspire young media professionals.
When she found out their was an opportunity to get involved with her alma mater, she jumped at the chance.
"As a TU alumnae, I always wanted to give back and help folks who are next in line," Hinders says. "I wanted to be able to give these students time and opportunities that I didn't get in school. I'm hoping to broaden their perspectives."
After getting to meet the students and show them around PBS, Hinders was not only impressed by students, but also with what they are learning on TU's campus.
"The students who joined the program and came to PBS, there showed so much ambition and aspiration and that was refreshing to see," Hinders says. "The way these students are consuming media and approaching media consumption...it's shocking and exciting to see what students are learning now. It was very cool to experience that."
The senior from Wheaton, Md., watched PBS while he was younger and was excited he was getting a chance to tour the network he grew up with. He was also excited that he was getting a chance to meet with professionals he would like to model himself after.
In fact, Mah’moud switched his major from science to EMF because he thought it would make him happier. After experiencing the studio and talking with the PBS staff, he knows he made the right decision to switch majors.
“This was a great chance to experiences the real world and give me an idea of what I want to do after I graduate,” Mah'moud says. “It’s easy to get shell-shocked once you get out in the real world, so getting to see people in a position I want to be at shows me that I’m on the right path.”
It was even fun for students who have no interest in joining the world of television. Aaron Robinson, a third-year graduate student studying biology, went on the trip as well.
The Darlington, S.C., native heard about the trip from members of the STEM Career Community. When he introduced himself to the rest of the group, he was the only student who wasn’t studying either journalism or communications.
But Robinson took the opportunity because he grew up watching Nature on PBS, a program that looks at the world’s wildlife. He said it was one of the reasons that he started studying the world of biology.
And while he’s not studying journalism, he couldn’t help but enjoying his talks with the members of the NewsHour team who report on climate change around the world.
“It was amazing to get the opportunity to talk with the climate change reporter and get his perspective of what’s going on the world and how he chases his stories,” Robinson says. “I was coming into this expecting to talk about lights and cameras, but it was really fun to talk about biology with someone from PBS.”
Robinson says he also appreciated hearing the stories of how the PBS staff ended up in their positions, and how they worked hard and didn’t take anything for granted.
He especially pointed out how important resources like the Career Center are, especially for opportunities like the Tiger L.E.A.P. program.
“The Career Center is such an amazing resource and students need to reach out,” Robinson says. “Once you graduate, these opportunities don’t happen. The resources they offer aren’t free. No one is pushing for you once you graduate like the Career Center does, so take advantage.”
This story is one of several related to President Kim Schatzel’s priorities for Towson University: Lifelong Career Center.