From left are Sentinel Executive Publisher Danny J. Bakewell, Sr., Intern Francois Jeannot and Sentinel COO Pamela Bakewell. (E. Mesiyah McGinnis/L.A. Sentinel)

I moved to California from Brooklyn, New York with my family during the COVID-19 pandemic. I am a rising sophomore at Cal State University Northridge, where I am majoring in History, which is a subject I have always loved for as long as I can remember.  For a month this summer, I interned at the Los Angeles Sentinel Newspaper, one of the oldest and largest Black-owned publications in the U.S.

As a history major, I sought an internship with a company that would not only meet my major requirements but also give me a general idea of the media field as a future career choice once I obtain my degree.

Intern, Francois Jeannot documents the Taste of Soul city meeting. (E. Mesiyah McGinnis)

The Brotherhood Crusade, founded by Walter Bremond and currently led by CEO Charisse Bremond-Weaver, is a long-standing community organization that provides at-risk youth with training and job opportunities. They provided me with an opportunity to intern with the Los Angeles Sentinel. The Sentinel is an African American-owned and operated newspaper and media company that has placed an emphasis on issues concerning the Black community and its readers for 90 years.

After learning of their mission, I was excited and intrigued to learn about their archive through the treasure of articles about Black life in America. Not only is the Sentinel rich in Black history, but it is also currently owned by civil rights leader and Brother Crusade Board Chairman Danny J. Bakewell, Sr., while Danny J. Bakewell, Jr. serves as the executive editor and chief of staff of the newspaper. 

Before this internship, I was not experienced in the areas of work etiquette, office protocol, and other useful tools needed in the workforce. But thanks to the Brotherhood Crusade’s Life Skills Workshop, I was able to gain the skills necessary for any work environment. For example, we were given mock job interviews, which helped me prepare and feel confident about the real interview process.

Sentinel Intern Francois Jeannot learned to file Taste of Soul festival images in digital archive folders. (E. Mesiyah McGinnis/L.A. Sentinel)

My experience at the Sentinel has been nothing but phenomenal. I have improved my customer service and communication skills by answering phone inquiries at the receptionist’s desk. Although I was nervous starting and made a couple of mistakes, my coworkers guided me and shared pointers, making me confident when in charge of calls.

I also learned research and computer skills assisting Sentinel Chief Administrative Officer Brandi Bakewell, who also leads the staff meetings. I also worked in the Sentinel Archives department with archivist, E. Mesiyah McGinnis.  I learned how to label and sort media from the Taste of Soul Family Festival, create content for the various social media platforms, and explore the Black history archives. 

Based on my experience, I will add media archivist to my list of potential career interests. I look forward to working with the Sentinel again for the upcoming Taste of Soul event and assisting in their archive department.

Sentinel Intern Francois Jeannot (blue shirt) participates in an LA Sentinel staff meeting. (E. Mesiyah McGinnis/L.A. Sentinel)

The Brotherhood Crusade and Sentinel staff are incredibly supportive and want the best opportunities for my peers and me. The Life Skills Program is not only free for the youth enrolled in the Brotherhood Crusade, but they also pay us for taking the life skills classes, as well as our internships.

As I come to the end of my internship, I am grateful for having my first experience with the Los Angeles Sentinel and Brotherhood Crusade. I cannot wait to use the skills I learned for my educational endeavors and future career.

I was placed in a safe space to learn, grow, make mistakes, earn valuable knowledge, and meet great people along the way.