Ciara Rolle-Harris on the Path to Success

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Published March 27, 2019
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The Montclarion
Ciara Rolle-Harris focused on crisis management during her time working with reality television shows at MTV. Photo courtesy of Ciara Rolle-Harris

What do HBO, MTV and The Wellmont Theater have in common? Ciara Rolle-Harris has interned there.

Junior public relations (PR) major Ciara Rolle-Harris has earned a reputation as a hardworking student and capable professional. In fall of 2018, Rolle-Harris was named a Forbes Under 30 Scholar. However, one of her proudest achievements is using her experiences to help others.

Genesis Obando, a junior journalism major and Montclarion staff writer, shared that Rolle-Harris has motivated her to reach her goals.

“I’ve known Ciara since freshman year of college, and I have to say she’s one of my biggest inspirations,” Obando said. “We always talk about what we’re doing, give each other advice and support one another. So, you could say we motivate and push each other.”

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Rolle-Harris interned for MTV in fall 2018, the same semester she was named a Forbes Under 30 Scholar. Photo courtesy of Ciara Rolle-Harris

Rolle-Harris explained that her journey began shortly after high school when she had a realization about her future goals.

“I woke up one day and something clicked in my head,” Rolle-Harris said. “I wanted to be successful to provide opportunities to other people.”

PR quickly emerged as the field that corresponded with Rolle-Harris’ skillset and desire to work with others.

“With PR you have the control to shape how a person or organization is introduced to the public,” Rolle-Harris said. “You’re the person that has a clear mind, that’s thinking under stress and helping others deal with crisis.”

Rolle-Harris began applying to internships in the second semester of her freshman year, sending resumes to industry leaders consistently despite rejection. She believes there’s a reason for every no and never lets them stop her from pursuing her goals.

She started at small PR agencies eventually applying in fall 2017 to the T. Howard Foundation, whose mission is to provide students of color the opportunity to succeed in the entertainment and media industry. After multiple rounds of interviews, she was accepted into the foundation, which provided her with a greater potential for success.

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HBO provided experiences that helped Rolle-Harris develop her PR skills. Photo courtesy of Ciara Rolle-Harris

She went on to intern at HBO in the summer of 2018, where she worked within the media relations division and contributed by building media lists, pitching to outlets, capturing tweets from prominent celebrities and coordinating premiere events.

During her internship at HBO, Rolle-Harris also had the opportunity to meet one of her role-models, Issa Rae.

“When ‘Awkward Black Girl’ first came out, I fell in love with her openness, and the fact that she was doing something different. It was a new character type for a black woman that I’ve never seen before,” Rolle-Harris said. “Then I saw her drive and how she’s always trying to provide opportunity for others, so she’s definitely a source of inspiration for me. She’s a trailblazer.”

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Rolle-Harris framed her “Insecure” poster after it was signed by Issa Rae, who addressed the message “to the best intern, Ciara.” Photo courtesy of Ciara Rolle-Harris

Rolle-Harris emphasized her belief in supporting others as a fundamental value.

“I think success is when you have peace of mind and you can provide wisdom or opportunity to someone else,” Rolle-Harris said.

Senior PR major Jamie Meade met Rolle-Harris at a Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) meeting where Meade was inquiring about potential internships. Rolle-Harris reached out and provided information on a position at her current workplace, Amy Delman Public Releations, LLC.

Meade took advantage of the opportunity and explained how grateful she was for the help she received from Rolle-Harris.

“I went ahead and applied for the internship and shortly after that, Ciara and I were interning together,” Meade said. “If it weren’t for Ciara, I wouldn’t have gotten that first internship, or the second and third after that.

Since her HBO internship, Rolle-Harris worked for MTV/VH1 in fall 2018 and is currently employed as a tour marketing and operations intern at The Wellmont Theater in Montclair. Alongside numerous projects and experiences, she’s worked with on “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver,” “Game of Thrones,” “Random Acts of Flyness,” “Insecure,” “Ex on the Beach,” “Love and Hip Hop” and “RuPaul’s Drag Race.”

For students starting their internship searches, Rolle-Harris recommends visiting career services and practicing mock interviews. She also suggests starting small your freshman year with local businesses, which will help to build your resume and build your network. She believes in developing relationships with your professors as a great way to demonstrate your passion toward your coursework and also to learn from their experiences in the professional world.

Learning how to “pitch yourself” to companies and share ways that you plan to contribute will set you apart from other candidates in Rolle-Harris’ experience.

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Rolle-Harris has worked alongside a team of interns during her time at Viacom, the conglomerate that runs MTV/VH1. Photo courtesy of Ciara Rolle-Harris

Most importantly, Rolle-Harris emphasized the importance of dedicating time and energy to secure your dream job.

“Whenever I have free time, I’m applying to something,” Rolle-Harris said. “I’m always looking for opportunities.”

When you do get the job, you have to continue the momentum and make an effort ask questions, stay later than scheduled, seek more responsibility and go the extra mile with each task you complete.

“As long as you’re consistent and work hard you’ll be able to break barriers,” Rolle-Harris said.

In the future, Rolle-Harris aspires to start her own PR agency as well as a non-profit to help young women navigate high school and college.

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