It’s 2021. In a world where technology allows students to build job-ready skills and begin their careers long before graduating, Howard University student athlete Richie Jones embarked on a remote externship with Facebook via Paragon One. All while attending online school and running his digital marketing business full time.
By Richie Jones
I was born and raised in Long Island, NY. My hardworking parents, one from Jamaica and the other from Puerto Rico, not only taught me the value of hard work, but also the importance of maintaining a strong work ethic, and unrelenting determination.
I’m lucky to have discovered a career path I’m passionate about early on. I love everything about social media, marketing and branding. I already have my own business - RDG Enterprises - that I began during my high school sophomore year. I build client brands through graphic design, videography and photography, and I’m self-taught. As I began to immerse myself in my work and explore different digital tools, I became pretty skilled at designing logos, capturing photos, and producing video content.
My schedule is pretty hectic. I’m a freshman at Howard University - my day is continuous and I have classes to attend and assignments to complete. I’m also a student-athlete on the men’s golf team at college, which means I wake up to work out at 5 in the morning.
Between being an entrepreneur, athlete and student, it seemed like I had enough on my plate, but then I went and applied to do a remote externship with Facebook through Paragon One on the side.
Here’s why, despite my crazy schedule, it was a great decision for me - and why it could be for you too:
While I still struggle to balance school, golf, and my business, I feel that my time management skills have greatly improved throughout the externship. I like that I was given the option to fit the externship into a schedule that would best suit my needs. With this flexibility, I was able to attend my classes in the morning, practice golf during the afternoons, complete my homework during the evenings, and finish off by working on the Facebook externship.
As I began to advertise my work through RDG Enterprises, I realized the deep love I had for entrepreneurship. Being able to build my own brand and advertise my work was one of the greatest feelings I have ever experienced. During the process of researching and teaching myself to create designs, talking to a variety of clients to ensure I could deliver what they wanted, and marketing my artwork to generate revenue, I was able to build on valuable business skills along the way. But I realized that I needed more experience in marketing, advertising and media within the corporate world, to learn how to effectively operate my own company in future.
My biggest goal is to become the CEO of my own media company. Throughout the Facebook externship, I learned new skills that will help me achieve this goal. I was able to learn many new things about trend analysis and how these trends greatly impact the tactics used by brands in order to capture the Gen Z audience. Being able to create recommendations was very fun. It was even cooler to be able to present to Facebook themselves and get live feedback.
Developing a strong initiative to do something fully is probably one of the greatest lessons my parents, and golf, have taught me. When I want to learn something, I make sure to teach myself how to do it to the best of my ability. But I also recognize the value of placing yourself in an environment where your learning is supported by training and mentorship. What I liked about the externship was that the whole project was organized like a virtual classroom. The best part is that we’re given the chance to be creative and add our own touch to the final presentation.
Connecting with members of the Paragon One and Facebook teams was truly valuable to me. I received great feedback and heard what they had to say about my research, analysis and presentation. This externship had also helped me develop my confidence as I had to learn how to present in front of a large company. Although it was in an online setting, it was still pretty nerve-racking!
I am proud to say that this externship has definitely pushed me out of my comfort zone which greatly impacted the amount of confidence I now have presenting. Many thanks to the Paragon One and Facebook team for allowing me the opportunity to participate in this online externship!