The Scoop on Our Fellowship Program

Christina Hinton and Anna Ly

Christina Hinton and Anna Ly, 2012-13 Cooney Center Fellows

Interested in applying for a fellowship at the Joan Ganz Cooney Center? Former fellows Christina Hinton and Anna Ly have the scoop. Here they answer some frequently asked questions about the program and provide a tour of our office space at Sesame Workshop! And see a special message by our Executive Director Michael Levine below.

We are accepting 2016-2017 fellowship applications now through April 4, 2016.

What is special about the Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop?

Christina: When television was a new technology, Joan Ganz Cooney came up with the revolutionary idea to use television to support children’s learning – and Sesame Street was bornSesame Street has since made a tremendous impact on the lives of children, and is now bringing critical lessons in literacy and numeracy, emotional wellbeing, health and wellness, and respect and understanding to children in over 150 countries. The Joan Ganz Cooney Center is a research and innovation lab that follows in the footsteps of this endeavor to use current new technologies, such as social networking forums and video games, to support children’s learning in innovative ways.

Why did you choose to apply to the fellowship?

Anna: While in graduate school, I knew I wanted to go back into the technology and digital media space as well as work with children. The Joan Ganz Cooney Center is the perfect merger of the two, given that its entire focus is advancing children’s learning through digital media. Furthermore it was born from Sesame Workshop, which is where educational television and media really started. The fellowship is also flexible in the way that I could pursue different areas of interest.  I can join projects that I am excited about and carve out skillsets that I want to develop since the Cooney Center has multiple initiatives (Games and Learning, Literacy by 10, and Learning Together) and various projects including the Games and Learning Publishing Council.

Christina: I am inspired by the mission of the Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop, as well as the organization’s striking capacity for innovation. The Cooney Center is working on cutting-edge digital technologies that directly support children’s learning. For example, in response to President Obama’s “Educate to Innovate” campaign to improve education in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), the Cooney Center is working with some of the world’s leading video game designers and academics to develop an innovative video game that teaches children mathematics.

Name something that you love about working here as a fellow.

Anna: The Cooney Center is full of extremely smart and very connected people that I learn from every single day. Since we are an innovation and research lab, we are always working with other groups outside of the Cooney Center and discovering what is at the leading edge of education and technology. A day doesn’t go by when I hear about an exciting partnership, project or conversation. Also, since our team is small, you also get to know whom you’re working with pretty well.

Christina: The colleagues! They are all incredibly bright and creative. I am learning so much from each of the colleagues that I work with, ranging from leadership principles, to analytic frameworks, to design processes for innovation. All of my colleagues here are also very caring people who are dedicated to supporting children’s learning. I am so grateful to work with such a special group of people.

What skills and strengths are you learning and building upon that will help you in the future?

Anna: Since I work on both research and industry initiatives, I am building upon multiple sets of skills. Within research, I am learning beyond my graduate education about children’s and families’ media use, educational technology, research methods, and child education. From my industry initiatives, I have been able to work on partnership development and communications design as well as better understand how a media group and innovation lab (which is much smaller than all of the other Fortune 100 companies I’ve worked at before) runs!

Can you say something about what it’s like working with the JGCC team as mentors?

Anna: As mentioned earlier, the team is full of extremely knowledgeable and connected individuals. It is a privilege to work alongside teammates like Michael and Lori, who are well known in the children’s educational technology realm. I can openly talk to them about my career path and get suggestions on how to further my knowledge. Our team is very open about sharing information whether its articles, books, contacts, meetings, etc. This practice is extremely important to me, and it makes me feel included.

Why do you think someone who is considering applying to the fellowship should apply?

Anna: If you’re considering applying, just apply! The interview process itself was uplifting since it allowed me to talk to the team and better understand what groups like the Cooney Center and Sesame Workshop are looking for in employees.

Do you have any advice for people who are applying? Key things to know when you’re applying to be a fellow/when you are a fellow?

Anna: First and foremost, know what we’re working on! Our research is free to download, and a lot of our current initiatives are posted up on the blog or under the initiatives tab on the website. Reach out to people who have worked at the Cooney Center before (like me!) and ask questions. Let us know how your background would fit within our work, how would it supplement / support / fill in the gaps!