Alum Interview: Ja’han Jones

Horizon Honors alum Ja’han Jones, recently accepted to NBC’s page program, discusses the new phase of his life, how he got there, and the impact HH has had

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courtesy of Ja'han Jones

Horizon Honors alum Ja’han Jones gives the thumbs up to moving to NYC and working for one of the most elite media organizations in the world.

HS: Give us some details about your history at Horizon – how long were you here, what were your extra-curriculars, etc.

JJ:  I began attending Horizon Community Learning Center in 2000 and graduated from Horizon Honors High School in 2010. While attending Horizon Honors, I played saxophone in Horizon’s symphonic band, served as the social chair in student council, and played for Horizon’s Varsity basketball team.

HS:  What is the program?

JJ:  The program into which I’ve been accepted is known as the NBC East Coast Page Program. (Description courtesy of NBC):  “Since its inception in 1933, the NBCUniversal Page Program has launched the careers of generations of leaders. In addition to providing unprecedented access to the media industry, this yearlong program acts as the primary pipeline for entry-level positions within the organization. For 80 years, Pages have conducted public tours of the historic NBC Studios in New York. Pages further liaise with the public while assisting with tapings of Saturday Night Live, The Tonight Show and other NBCUniversal programming.”

HS:  What did the application process involve?

JJ:  The application process draws roughly 16,000 applicants and carries a 2% acceptance rate. I applied for the program at the end of May 2014. After sending my application, I’d wait roughly one month until I heard from NBC again–this time, congratulating me on advancing to the next round of the process, a video interview. I completed the video interview and waited another month before hearing from NBC again–this time, congratulating me on advancing to the final panel interview at Rockefeller Center in New York City. The panel interview consisted of three parts (a group interview, a one-on-one interview, and a 2-minute presentation). I waited yet another month before receiving a call from NBC Universal, finally, offering me the position.

HS:  When, where, and for how long will you go?

JJ:  The program operates using a rolling admission, so I don’t have an exact start date yet. I’ve requested a start date somewhere within the first week of January, however. I will be working in New York City, at Rockefeller Center, for at least one year. Reportedly, 75% of NBC Pages are offered a permanent job with NBC upon completion of the program.

HS:  What will you do there?

JJ:  The duties of an NBC Page are abundant. Perhaps, the most well-known responsibility is that of guest relations. This means I will be taking visitors on tours of NBC Studios and tending to audience members at SNL, Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, the Today Show, and other NBC productions. Additionally, I will be given four 3-month assignments with these and/or other productions during my time as a page. The assignments will allow me a more hands-on experience with the shows and grant me closer contact with talent, producers, and others with the ability to hire me as a permanent employee.

HS:  How does this connect to what you want to do in life?

JJ:  I want to tell stories. I write to live, and for some time, I’ve had aspirations of working as a television anchor or news contributor. NBC is the first network to ever broadcast news on television, and joining an organization with such a lineage is an honor for me.

HS:  What do you want to get out of this experience?

JJ:  I want a platform. I want to learn. I want to become familiar with the ways of the industry. I’m not entirely sure I fully understand, at this moment, the opportunities awaiting me, so it’s hard for me to know–with certainty–what I want. At this point, I’m still in a euphoric stage.

HS: How did Horizon Honors spark your interest in this path?

JJ:  The first person who comes to mind is Mrs. Shaheen. As I recount my experience at Horizon, she was there through its entirety. And I remember the reading groups, and spelling groups, and frank discussions, and the critiques and praise she gifted to me. I’m thankful for that. And also, in my [senior] year, my Honors English course with Mrs. Britt granted me a space in which I could sharpen my mind. I was urged, then, to delve deeper than ever before into text, and my ability to analyze is what it is today because we read Asimov, and we read Bradbury, and we read Wilde, and others of their ilk. For that experience, I’m thankful for my teacher as well as my classmates. There was an unspoken air of competition in that class, and in hindsight, I think we were all better people because of it.