WICT Program Gives UT Students Apprenticeship Opportunities

KNOXVILLE — Twenty-three female students are wrapping up a year-long mentorship with the national Women in Cable Telecommunications (WICT) organization and two of them have had the chance to work as interns at Scripps Networks Interactive.

This was the first year that UT, the WICT Atlanta Chapter and the College of Communication and Information (CCI) offered the mentoring program to seniors. The students were paired with female telecommunications professionals, many of whom work at Scripps Network Interactive.

“During this first year, UT mentees had opportunities to interact directly with their mentors,” said Melissa Sykes, vice president of content diversity with Scripps Networks Interactive who coordinates the mentoring program. “They work on both general career development and receive guidance and insight into job-seeking skills, strategies and techniques.”

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In January, midway through her mentoring program, UT student Karli Sanders was offered an internship at HGTV.com. She spent the past five months working with HGTV.com’s Core Team, which is responsible for planning, scheduling and promoting content.

“As an intern, I split my time between editorial work, like writing the ‘Design Happens’ blog and creating articles, and online programming,” Sanders said. “My supervisors recently offered me a job as a contractor after my internship ends so I can stay with the company — a dream come true.”

Emily Woods, UT senior majoring in public relations, began an internship at Scripps Networks Interactive in DIY Network’s press department in August 2009.

Woods’ boss, Brandii Toby-Leon, director of DIY Network’s press and public relations department, also serves as her mentor through the WICT program.

Woods said she values her time with Toby-Leon and tries to soak up all the knowledge that her mentor can bestow.

“This has opened my eyes to what a 9-to-5 job will be like,” Woods said, who is applying for jobs right now. “It’s a great way to ease into the professional world. It’s a great place to get your feet wet in the professional field.”

Toby-Leon, who is also on the board of the WICT-Atlanta Chapter as the director of communications, said she thinks the mentor program has been a great benefit to Scripps and to the university.

“I think it’s great that … we have such a great university in our back yard and, in reverse, that the university has the disposal of our company,” she said.

The WICT Atlanta Chapter is currently recruiting for the 2010-2011 class of mentees. The organization also is adding additional experiences and benefits to enrich the program.

To find out how to apply, contact Sam Swan at samswan@utk.edu.

For more 2010 UT Commencement stories, see http://tntoday.utk.edu/tag/commencement-2010/.

C O N T A C T :

Melissa Sykes (865-560-4638, msykes2@scrippsnetworks.com)

Bridget Hardy (865-974-2225, bhardy4@utk.edu)

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