The industry is increasing the supply of media professionals and students are reaching their potential
As the sports production industry faces a shrinking workforce, many broadcasters are exploring new avenues to hire the next generation of talent while diversifying their ranks. Meanwhile, Exceptional Minds, a nonprofit California organization that prepares young adults on the autistic spectrum for a creative career in the entertainment industry, seeks to create job opportunities for its alumni outside of Hollywood.
These two paths converged at CBS Sports, where they finished a pair of Exceptional Minds – Adam Shuring and Michael Chicheli – work and thrive in the media management department under Vice President, Postproduction and Media Operations, Ed Coleman.
“I have a son who’s on the spectrum,” Coleman said. “He’s very creative and really into animation, so I just searched the internet for online courses in this area for kids on the spectrum. I came across Exceptional Minds. When I started looking at their organization and the kind of work they do, I quickly realized that this could be a big part of the work we do at CBS Sports, and hopefully it will give these young people great opportunities.
Exceptional Minds provides critical technical training and personalized training to help its students reach their full artistic and professional potential, creating a new stream of talented media professionals and promoting inclusive hiring practices. Exceptional Minds and its partners are building a future in which neurodiversity perspectives are vital to the development of a more empowered and inclusive society.
After discovering Exceptional Minds, Coleman contacted the organization’s career development and recruitment department and soon received a list of graduates and their concentrations and majors. He selected a group of candidates who were interested in editing, archiving and digital media workflows, and after conducting several interviews, narrowed the group to Schuring and Cicerelli.
Once on board, Coleman assigned each senior MAM-focused employee to help them get started and monitor their progress.
“We took a more personalized approach – almost a mentoring model, where we paired each of them with one of our seniors,” Coleman said. “We found that we didn’t need to slow down much because we both jumped in and started pretty fast. In addition to giving both of them a great experience, it was great to see people on my team step up and show leadership, empathy, and really accept working with these two young people. It was amazing to see the organization come together and help these guys. “
Schuering now works with the CBS Sports Network’s media asset management team – planning recordings, restoring archive content, assisting editors and handling other day-to-day operations. Cicerelli works with CBS Sports’ digital archiving team, digitizing MAM tapes and archive systems and helping with daily MAM support and live workflows.
“People who come through exceptional minds – or someone on the autism spectrum, in that sense – may have some difficulty communicating,” says Coleman, “but they also have a valuable set of skills and a dedicated work ethic – just as anyone else can.” to have if they have the right thinking. I would recommend to any sports organization to give the people on the spectrum an opportunity and to provide the resources they need to be properly integrated with your team. I think you will find that these young men and women will thrive and strengthen not only their game, but the game of existing employees. “
Coleman loans CBS Sports Chairman Sean McManus, President David Bersonand EVP, Operations and Engineering, Patty Power for providing it with the resources and freedom to adapt to the partnership with Exceptional Minds.
“I would absolutely [make another hire through Exceptional Minds]”Says Coleman. “I would recommend other divisions in the sport to consider this. I am focused on post-production and asset management, but many of the students who go through the program are very focused on working with graphics and animation, so there is great potential. Other students are just looking for a chance to show what they can do in production management and things like that, but they just need the opportunity. ”
Exceptional Minds works continuously to find mentoring, internships and jobs for its students, which can often be overlooked when recruiting. Sports media companies can work with the Exceptional Minds recruitment team to find candidates; employees can be mentors or volunteers for such roles as conducting fake interviews or they can talk to students about what types of roles the company offers.
Exceptional Minds works with its students on career readiness so that they are prepared to work as part of a team and adapt to different working conditions. The organization also offers its partners training for employers to prepare a team for success in a diverse society.
“Our culture and industry are focused on DEI [Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion] for a very good reason: different perspectives improve business in general, and autism is a perfect example of that, ”he says. Morgan Chess, Head of Marketing, Exceptional Minds. “One in 44 people in the United States is diagnosed with autism, so having employees on the spectrum allows media companies to care for a larger audience in an effective way.
Exceptional Minds is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, and what began with niche training has expanded to most creative service skills. From editing social content and video ads to video game environments, these students are geared toward industries with advanced skills and ready to embark on a career. Cicerelli and Shuring were the first graduates of Exceptional Minds to gain positions in sports media and open doors for others on the spectrum.
“They are a great example for our current students of how to use their skills outside of animation and post-production,” says Shah. “Our students and alumni are experienced in the digital arts, which is being transferred to many industries, but our students have qualities that elevate teams of all kinds. Their views and work ethic, combined with their training, create first-class employees. ”