CBS Sports, extraordinary minds are creating new career paths in media management for the autism community

The industry is increasing its range of media professionals, and students are realizing their potential

As the sports production industry faces a shrinking workforce, many broadcasters are exploring new ways to recruit the next generation of talent while also diversifying their ranks. Meanwhile, Exceptional Minds, a California nonprofit that prepares young adults on the autism spectrum for creative careers in the entertainment industry, is trying to create employment opportunities for its graduates outside of Hollywood.

Those two paths have converged at CBS Sports, where two extraordinary minds are graduating – Adam Schuring and Michael Cicerelli — work and thrive in the media management department VP, Post Production and Media Operations, Ed Coleman.

“I have a son who is on the spectrum,” says Coleman. “He is very creative and very interested in animation, so I just searched the internet for online courses in this area for children from the spectrum. I came across extraordinary minds. As I started looking at their organization and the nature of their work, I realized very quickly that this applies to a lot of the work we do at CBS Sports and hopefully could offer some great opportunities for these young people.”

Exceptional Minds offers its students realistic training.

Exceptional Minds provides critical technical and ready-to-work training tailored to help its students reach their full artistic and professional potential, create a new pipeline of talented media professionals, and foster inclusive hiring practices. Exceptional Minds and its partners are building a future where neurodiverse perspectives are critical to advancing a stronger and inclusive society.

After discovering Exceptional Minds, Coleman contacted the organization’s Career Development and Placement Department and soon received a list of graduates and their majors and majors. He selected a group of candidates interested in editing, archival, and digital media workflows and, after conducting a handful of interviews, narrowed the group down to Schüring and Cicerelli.

Once on board, Coleman assigned each to a MAM-focused senior to help them get started and oversee their development.

“We took more of a tailored approach — almost a mentoring model, where we matched each of them with one of our senior staff,” says Coleman. “We found we didn’t have to slow the pace down much because these two guys jumped right in and went at it pretty quickly. Aside from giving both of them a great experience, it was great to see people on my own team step up and show leadership, show empathy and really embrace 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 media asset management team – scheduling recordings, restoring content from archives, assisting with edits, and handling other day-to-day operations. Cicerelli works with CBS Sports’ Digital Archives team, digitizing tapes for the MAM and archive systems and helping to support MAM and Live workflows on a day-to-day basis.

“The people who come through Exceptional Minds — or anyone on the autism spectrum, for that matter — may have some communication difficulties,” says Coleman, “but they also have valuable skills and a dedicated work ethic — just like everyone else when they do.” have the right attitude. I would recommend any sports organization to give people who are on the spectrum a chance and provide the resources they need to be properly integrated into your team. I think you’ll find these young men and women thriving and not only improving their game, but the existing staff’s game as well.”

Exceptional Minds wants to place more students in the sports media industry.

Coleman credits CBS Sports Chairman Sean McManus, President David Bersonand EVP, Operations and Engineering, Patty Power for providing the resources and freedom to partner with Exceptional Minds.

“I certainly would [make another hire through Exceptional Minds]’ says Coleman. “I would recommend other departments within the sport to look into this as well. I’m focused on post production and asset management, but many of the students who go through the program are very focused on graphics and animation work, so there’s a lot of potential there. Other students are just looking for a way to show what they can do in production management and stuff like that, but just need the opportunity.”

Exceptional Minds continually works to find mentorships, internships and jobs for its students that are often overlooked in recruitment. Sports media companies can work with the Exceptional Minds recruitment team to find candidates; Employees can mentor or volunteer for tasks like conducting mock interviews or speaking with students about what types of roles the company offers.

Exceptional Minds works with its students on career maturity so they are ready to work as part of a team and adapt to different work environments. The organization also offers employer training to its partners to prepare a team for success in a neurodiverse society.

A new class at the Exceptional Minds training facility in California

“Our culture and industry are geared towards DEI [Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion] for very good reason: different perspectives lead to better business overall, and autism is a perfect example of that,” he says Morgan Chess, Director of Marketing, Extraordinary Minds. “One in 44 people in the US is diagnosed with autism, so having employees on the spectrum allows media companies to reach larger audiences in an effective way.”

Exceptional Minds celebrates its 10th anniversary this year and what started with niche training has expanded to include most creative services. From editing social content to video ads to video game environments, these students travel across industries with mature skills and are ready to start their careers. Cicerelli and Schuering were the first Exceptional Minds graduates to earn positions in sports media and open doors to others on the spectrum.

“They’re a great example for our current students of how to use their skills outside of animation and post-production,” says Chess. “Our students and graduates are skilled in the digital arts that apply to many industries, but our students bring qualities that drive teams of all types. Their perspectives and work ethic, combined with their education, create employees who are first class.”

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