Alumni Spotlight: Jordan Morning

TELECOMMUNICATIONS – This spotlight series features T. Howard Foundation (THF) alumni working in Telecommunications.

Jordan Morning (THF ’16)
Director of Communications & Media, Indiana University – Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences

What do you enjoy most about your company?
I’ve loved Indiana University since before I even started attending in 2012. Back then I couldn’t tell you what I loved about IU outside of being a fan of the men’s basketball team. After spending 4 years here as a student, and almost 5 as an employee though, the list of things I enjoy about this place are endless. IU really cares about the well-being of its employees, as evidenced by the generous paid time off and health insurance packages. Employees can ride the transit and campus buses for free, and the recreational centers are available at a discounted rate.

The best aspect of working here in my opinion though is the people. I’ve worked in 3 different departments so far, and the common thread throughout each space is the supportive nature that all my co-workers have displayed. I have yet to meet someone at IU who is not willing to help me figure out and attain my goals. There’s no shortage of genuinely nice people here!

In what way did this type of work interest you and how did you get started?
The work I do now involves managing the print and digital communications for the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences. My current responsibilities range from graphic design to video production to website management and more. I am the sole communications professional within the department, so I have to be creative when coming up with solutions. This often forces me to draw upon skillsets I’ve learned from undergrad to internships and freelance work.

I’ve always been drawn to a healthy sense of autonomy in work environments, so the independent nature of this job along with its need for versatility really stood out to me. My first true love in this industry was video production, but I quickly realized that in order to be marketable, I needed to expand my skillset. Getting my foot in the door to work at IU as a multimedia specialist was difficult. It required me to be willing to learn a lot on the job, but it was incredibly rewarding and affirming to see how much I could continue to develop as a professional.

So, although I didn’t initially care much about graphic design, CRM, or web management, I found that challenging myself with freelance work and on-the-job training in each of these areas helped me land my current job.

Has your career path been linear or non-linear?
I entered the professional workplace in the summer of 2016, and that first year was the toughest. I had just ended my 10-week internship through T. Howard at ESPN, and I was certain that a full-time job offer from them was imminent. As I waited for the call that would never come, I found myself working jobs I never imagined I would. I spent some time driving students’ laundry to the laundromat, working in the electronics department of Walmart, and even doing temp work for a local pharmaceutical company.

Throughout that year, I felt discouraged. Not only was I not working for ESPN, but I was barely making minimum wage. The only work I was doing that felt fulfilling was the occasional freelance gig I would get to shoot and edit promotional or informational videos. When I consider this time, I don’t view myself as being on a linear path. However, after I landed my first position at IU, things started to feel pretty linear. I’ve gone from being a part-time employee, to a full-time designer, to a communications director within the span of the last 5 years. It’s not the way I would have drawn up my career path to this point, but I don’t regret any of it.

How has your affiliation with the T. Howard Foundation influenced your career?
In 2016 the T. Howard Foundation opened a door that I never thought was possible. I was about to graduate with a dual degree in telecommunications and theatre, and I had no clue what my career path was going to look like. I was grateful for the training from my undergraduate classes, but I still felt disconnected from the real-world media industry. As a man of color whose parents have no connection to this industry, I felt like I had to figure things out myself. Fortunately, I had a friend who told me about the T. Howard Foundation and encouraged me to apply.

When I got my internship with ESPN through the help of the foundation, I found myself stunned by the fact that this organization seemingly existed for people just like me. I was greatly encouraged by the kindness and help from everyone at orientation that summer, and I made some memorable connections with fascinating people.

The T. Howard Foundation does incredible work, and they made me feel seen at a time when I didn’t know what to do next. I still think about the foundation often, and I do my best to tell others about it whenever I get the chance. Their mission of creating a more equitable professional media landscape is one that I still support as I strive to continually represent the excellence that comes from diversity.

What personal attributes have been essential to your career success?
I try to regularly reflect upon what my best attributes are, but I usually find myself focusing on my worst ones.  In a way, this natural tendency to focus on my weaknesses has been my most beneficial attribute. I know that I’m not perfect, and I know that I never will be. Nevertheless, I strive to inch closer to perfection with humility and perseverance every day.

Humility is key in my pursuit of excellence. If I ever catch myself feeling high and mighty, or if my happiness is based in comparison to those who are less fortunate, I have to take a step back and humble myself. Could I be even higher up the professional ladder if I didn’t check my pride? Maybe. But to me, pride is the enemy of success. True success looks to make the people around oneself better. It listens, and uplifts. This all might sound cliché, but my integrity is paramount in this way, and it is maintained through my personal faith in God.

Are you extroverted or introverted? How does this show up in your professional life and how has this trait benefited you professionally?
I am naturally more introverted, which might seem like it flies in the face of being a good communicator, but I’ve found it to be helpful in my professional life. I mostly work alone, so I have plenty of time to think and reflect on what I’m doing. Even though I prefer to do most things by myself, I’ve recognized how I need to actively work against this nature of mine sometimes. I’ve come to realize that although I can feel productive after a full day of working alone, I really need interactions with others to maintain some sense of purpose.

I fully believe that both introverts and extroverts can excel in the media industry. To me, it doesn’t matter which end of the spectrum one falls on. It’s more about balancing time for both self-reflection and connecting with others. I’m biased, but I prefer being an introvert because it makes me more immune to workplace drama and conflicts. I don’t need to have a best friend at my job, and that helps me feel like I can work with all kinds of people!

Jordan’s Piece of Advice: Always be open to learning new things, and take time to be thankful for all your blessings!