Our second spotlight for the month of February is Delaney Strunk, a graduate of Roswell High School (2013) and of Georgia State University (2017). She works for CNN as an Associate Producer on the Mobile Programming team at CNN. Delaney participated in the Turner Voices Youth Media Institute in 2012 and says that nothing prepared her more for future career interviews than that workshop. Read more…

Paint a brief picture of what you are doing now. 

I am an Associate Producer on the Mobile Programming team at CNN.

How did participating in 21CL transform you and lead you to where you are now?

The first time I ever stepped foot in the CNN Center in Atlanta was during my 21CL program. I can still remember the electricity I felt when looking at the newsroom for the first time. Spending the week talking with employees and learning about their work process helped reaffirm my decision to pursue a degree in journalism. I was on the fence about where I wanted to attend college, but staying in Atlanta for the week helped me realize there was no other place I wanted to be than downtown, so I went to Georgia State University.

And how did 21CL prepare you for your next steps? Going into college and taking on leadership roles, heading into a new era of professionalism, etc. What skills/tools/perspectives have helped you along the way?

Not only did 21CL help me with my fear of public speaking, but I learned quickly how to network effectively. It’s not about how many business cards you can get in one networking event, it’s about forming personal connections with new people. Going into college I focused on diving deeper into the projects I was already committed to, as opposed to racking up as many “resume friendly” projects as I possibly could.

Which programs did you participate in, and when? What skills did you gain or improve through those programs?

I participated in the Turner Voices Youth Media Institute in 2012. I still think about our elevator pitch training to this day. Nothing prepare me more for future career interviews than that workshop.

What was a memorable or ‘aha’ moment in 21CL? (Particular program, meeting a professional and diverse peers, speaking in public for the first time, etc.?)

This may be an incredibly niche experience, but I truly think about this moment almost once a week. During 21CL I had fire engine red hair (I’ve always been a bit eccentric) and I also took my nose piercing out for the week because of the dress code rules of the program. I remember making a side comment to one of the CNN Student News employees about feeling a little out of place professionally because my look was a little more out there. Well, the night of the dinner the employee made sure to introduce me to a coworker who had tattoos, multiple piercings and dyed hair. That small little gesture allowed me to see myself at the company. I no longer felt out of place. It made me feel like maybe one day I could actually become a CNN employee. I know that may seem small, but here I am now as a CNN employee!

Did 21CL assist you in developing a leadership style that makes you an effective leader? if so how? And have you recently learned something else about leadership? Please share!

More than anything, 21CL taught me that a leader is nothing without their team. I think in high school it was really easy to get caught up in trying to be the best, and while a leader should always strive to succeed, it shouldn’t be in a selfish way. When you focus on personally succeeding you forget about the people around you. I think the group project aspect of the week really helped solidify how working effectively together with others is a form of leadership.