The United States is predicted to become a minority white country by the year 2045. Yet, the messaging in this nation is determined, shaped, and delivered by majority white executives and talent in the media and communications industry. ColorComm, a business community for women of color in communications, is hoping to diversify the field through its HBCU Fellows Program, by bringing more Black professionals into the pipeline.
“I went to Spelman College for undergrad and Georgetown for graduate school. My dad went to Prairie View University and my mother went to Howard. My grandparents also attended Howard University,” says Lauren Wesley Wilson, founder and CEO of ColorComm Incorporated. “And so I come from a long line of HBCU graduates and wanted to provide more opportunities for this special cohort of folks in the communications, marketing and advertising industry to increase diversity among all levels.”
Wilson explains that the entryway to a profession in communications is oftentimes internships and fellowships, but companies tend to frequent the same schools for recruiting, leaving HBCU students without the visibility needed to land roles at major media companies. “We wanted to widen the net a little bit,” Wilson says.
Currently there are more than a dozen HBCUs involved with recruiting for the fellowship program and it is open to all HBCU college juniors and seniors, or those who are one to three years post-graduate. “We want to provide opportunities for HBCU students and grads to have direct access to Fortune 500 companies and leading companies in the communications, marketing and advertising space,” Wilson adds.
In addition to the access, students of the year-long program are provided with the resources and skills to be successful. That includes mentorship and training from respected veterans in the media and communications industry as well as monthly meetings with other members of the group. Wilson notes that it’s a great way for attendees to start building their professional network, while getting face time with key decision makers.
The deadline to apply to the ColorComm’s 5th Annual NextGen HBCU Fellows Program, is January 27. Wilson says ColorComm is looking to include applicants who give back to their community through service and can articulate their goals. “Where do you see yourself a few years from now? What are you doing right now to get the training and resources that you need to better understand the career that you want to get into? Are you involved in clubs or organizations at your current college or institution? Are you being proactive, speaking up at conferences, virtual or in-person?” The answers to these questions are what Wilson says decision makers will be looking for when admitting the next 50/60 people to take part in the 2022 HBCU Fellows cohort.
“They don’t have to have all the answers figured out,” Wilson says, “but we want to see an application that shows that they’re headed in that direction.”