Alumni Spotlight: Iris Raiken

MUSIC/TELEVISION – This spotlight series features T. Howard Foundation (THF) alumni working Music or Television.

Iris Raiken (THF ‘17)


Please describe your role.

I am a Project Coordinator for the Marketing Operations Department at HBO. In this role, I manage the development, production and distribution of promotional videos and assets for HBO Programming across media platforms. My day to day work includes overseeing deadlines, providing operational support between internal teams (like Creative Services and Digital/Social Media), and keeping campaign management databases updated with accurate information. I have overseen promotional video deliveries for various HBO programs, including Curb Your Enthusiasm, Silicon Valley, Real Time with Bill Maher and the upcoming series, We Are Who We Are.

What do you enjoy most about your company?

There are many things I enjoy about working at HBO. One thing I enjoy the most is the team I work with. We’re a group of project managers, coordinators, video editors and more who work on different videos each day. They are all supportive and hardworking in their roles, and they always brighten my days at work. With this job, I am also able to collaborate with other teams in the HBO Marketing department, including the Creative Services team, the Program Marketing team, the Scheduling team and more. I enjoy getting to work with and know different members of the whole HBO family.

I also love the work I’m doing at this company. I get to view and work on different videos like trailers, promos, video clips, and gifs. It’s great to know I’m a small part in ensuring HBO’s programs are marketed to the world. I’m also a big television fan, so I love that I am working for a great television network.

 In what way did this type of work interest you and how did you get started?

I have always been interested in working for the media industry since I was in elementary school. I was first interested in video production and editing; I was given the opportunity to explore these interests by filming and editing videos at home and at school. However, I felt overtime that my skills and interests were better suited in a producer or management-type role. At first, I assumed this meant I could take one career route as a producer. But while interning for truTV, I was introduced to a new career field that I never knew existed: Project Management for Video and Marketing Operations. After coordinating video promo deliveries of truTV programming, I can now see myself working in this type of job for many more years. A job opportunity then appeared with HBO, where I could improve my project management skills, and I was lucky enough to get that position.

How has your affiliation with the T. Howard Foundation influenced your career?

My affiliation with the T. Howard Foundation influenced my career in many ways. First, it allowed me to connect with other working professionals from the T. Howard Foundation and various media companies. Meeting and networking with these professionals gave me the chance to grow my network and learn about other people’s experiences.

My affiliation with the T. Howard Foundation also gave me the chance to practice and improve my working skills in a professional setting. Before the T. Howard Foundation, I gained most of my video and working skills through on-campus jobs and video projects at school. However, with my previous internship with truTV, I learned what it was actually like to work for a television network. I saw firsthand how meetings ran, as well as what my typical tasks throughout this job would be. It opened my eyes to a new world that was awaiting me post-graduation, and I was no longer scared to enter the working world.

What personal attributes have been essential to your career success?

There are many personal attributes that have been essential to my career success. First of all, I believe it’s important to be collaborative and supportive in this type of work. In my eyes, it’s important to be a team player and to be open to helping your peers. I also think it’s important to be flexible and eager to learn new things. Work, especially in the media industry, is always changing with the television and media landscape.

Another attribute is to be okay with making mistakes and learning from them. It’s easy to feel unconfident or stressed if you mess up at your job somehow (especially when you’re still learning and training for the job). Many times, I got so frustrated at myself when this happened to me; I would then be thinking about that one mistake all day, and it would ruin my attitude and work ethic. Overall, I feel people shouldn’t be so hard on themselves at work.

If you were entering this career today, how would you prepare to facilitate entry?

One way I would prepare for my first day is by doing research on the company and media industry; more specifically, I’d search for any news articles about any of the television networks. I would also learn more about the programming of the television network (in this case HBO) and watch episodes of the past and current series from the network.

Do you have any of the following at work? a mentor, mentee, sponsor, work BF or work spouse? If so, which one(s)? What are the advantages of having these relationships?

I have a few mentors and work partners currently at HBO. I also had a work spouse at my previous job with truTV, Dai Delija, who is also known as a fellow T. Howard alumna. Overall, it’s important to have a support system or person at work – through the daily highs and lows. Whether they help you with work tasks or have personal catch-up conversations with you, they help you feel valued at work. It’s great to have peers you trust and can be open with in and out of the office setting.

How do you re-charge at work?

I like to recharge at work by taking small breaks throughout my day. This can vary from taking a lunch or meal break, taking a walk outside, checking social media platforms on my phone, or just stepping away from my work desk for a few minutes. It’s definitely possible to feel work burnout if you don’t give yourself the proper breaks and self-care you need.