Alumni Spotlight: Kayla Williams

– Alumni Spotlights highlight the success of THF interns with Hearst, a long standing supporter and the Foundation’s first Platinum Diversity Partner.

Kayla Williams (THF ’18)

Tell us about your host company, Hearst.

Title: Research Analyst at Hearst Ventures

Duties & Responsibilities: Explored and analyzed trends occurring across markets including voice technology, mobility, and more. Assisted the team with various investment diligence and deal sourcing tasks.

What did a typical day look like for you?

I would start my day by scouring through several media outlets including TechCrunch, Google News, Business Insider, and Forbes to stay up to date with business (entrepreneurial specifically) and venture news. It was always important to know the lead investors and trending founders/startups of the week. I could always present this information to my team and use it to enhance my research.

What was one of your best experiences interning with Hearst?

I have two! First and foremost, Hearst’s 2018 interns were given the opportunity to speak with the current CEO, Steven Swartz. Never in a million years did I think I would have the chance to do such.

The second, each week at Hearst Ventures, I would sit in nearly 3-5 pitch meetings with my team and learn about emerging startups across the country. Needless to say, it was inspiring to hear the stories of the founders and watch individuals achieve their dreams.

What did you like most about interning with Hearst?

I learned so much about the media industry. Examining it from the business, venture perspective provided me with insight that many may never come to know or only know after years of experience. I learned how funding, raising/raise amounts, the levels of raising and other financial statuses may/can affect the business itself, including the types of content, the positions, the longevity of the business and more.

Being that Hearst is most known for their digital and print outlets, it was definitely interesting to see the bigger picture of the company and be a part of a team that seeks out the next big thing in new media. Hearst was also very inclusive and diverse. I had the pleasure of working with a phenomenal woman of a boss along with other people of color. I never felt out of place nor inferior in the work place.

How did your role/department fit into Hearst’s overall business objective/mission?

Hearst, being a diversified media company, has and will continue to dominate the many forms of entertainment we interact with on a daily basis. As a corporate venture fund, Hearst Ventures aims to bridge the gap between new media/technology and large corporations by investing and mentoring companies that align with Hearst’s landscape.

In addition to that, these portfolio companies allow Hearst to extend their own operations and stay up to date with the wants, needs, and trends of the public/consumer. Investing in these companies gives the average person a chance to be a part of something great.

What were the most rewarding and challenging parts of your role?

The most rewarding/challenging task, I would say, was definitely the Voice Technology white paper I was asked to write upon the completion of summer internship. Although I do like to write, I knew this research paper would be presented to the higher ups and I wanted it to be perfect or as close as I could get to that. I will also mention as the weeks went by, it became a challenge to discover new startups.

I had to come up with alternative ways to search the same categories or sift through numerous portfolio lists until I found an or a few interesting companies. After getting a bit acclimated, I was able to start reaching out to founders myself and hosting my own meetings with the team. All went great and I am happy to have initiated those connections.

What particular skills or talents were most essential to be effective in your internship role?

In order to work at Hearst Ventures or any VC fund, one must be inquisitive. There are many forms of businesses/markets and it is up to the investor to find them and be knowledgeable of each. The person must also be social, extremely social, I cannot stress that enough. Investors meet with founders 24/7.

It is certainly a position where you never stop networking. Either you are networking with a founder, another investor, or someone who might know of a startup that fits within your landscape. Either way, it is important to put yourself out there and build those connections. You literally never know what deals may come of that!

How has your Hearst internship made an impact on your career?

This internship gave me EXACTLY what I wanted. It gave me a glimpse of a potential industry I could be a part of while utilizing my Computer Science degree. Prior to this internship, I had no idea what venture capital was or what they did. Now, after a few months, I want to start my own business and start my own venture fund in the future.

Working at Hearst for the past year expanded my own horizon specifically regarding media careers and allowed me to uncover talents/interests I did not even know existed within myself. Upon my arrival, I had no business nor finance experience – just a passion for media and research. Now, as I search for new opportunities, I am no longer hesitant to take on challenges and apply for certain positions. Why? Because I came to Hearst with little experience and left with more than I could have ever imagined.

What advice would you give to THF interns as they begin summer internships/ careers in media?

Set small goals for yourself and achieve them. A goal can be anything along the lines of reaching out to, emailing even briefly chatting, with a certain person (speaking to them in the break room), attending an event outside of work, or even working outside the office to enhance your performance throughout your stay. I believe often times, we as Gen-Z, forget the impact little things do have and how they continue to do so in the long run. Most of the time simply being social and friendly can open a door.

Cliché but, do not be afraid to network- with your peers, other interns, and other professionals. Push yourself. I will say networking is a job in and of itself but, you never know what may come of it. And networking does not have to be awkward! It can sometimes start with a joke, a compliment, or whatever comes to mind to keep that connection going. Even in cases where you may not plan on or feel like networking, try to come up with a script, a few questions to ask everyone, just to practice speaking to one another and professionals.

Lastly, be open. Had I not been open, I would not have had the opportunity to work at Hearst Ventures with such a great team. I understand some interns know exactly what they want to do. But please keep in mind how multifaceted the media industry is or can be. If you are not open, you may miss out on a great opportunity. It is great to use this time to at least figure out what you do like and what you do not like. We rarely get this time in the working world, so why not use it now?

Thanks again T. Howard Foundation and Hearst Ventures. It has been a pleasure!