From being part of a start-up to working for HBO Max, Dyllon Young ‘11 can be found living and working in New York City as a project manager—a career he didn’t realize existed back in his days at Holy Trinity. Looking back, he reflected on how his high school experiences prepared him for college and beyond.
What were you like as a high school student?
I was really involved. I was the president of the National Honor Society, vice president of Student Government, president of the Black and Latino Student Union, and involved in Gospel Choir and theater productions, notably, the musical Jesus Christ Superstar. I also took AP classes: AP Anatomy with Ms. Lohenry and AP Calculus courses with Father Greg.
What differentiated your educational experience in high school?
As a LINK Unlimited scholar and Holy Trinity student, I was being pushed to be the best student possible. The HT teachers continue to influence who I am as a person today and that translates through my college journey and career. Ms. Lohenry, in particular, was always there, ensuring that both educational and personal growth were equally weighted, which was so formative for me becoming a hard-working person that’s also good and kind. She has an uncanny ability to tailor every conversation to each student so that it resonates the best with them. That custom way of approaching teaching is irreplaceable. Also, Ms. Lohenry went above and beyond to be involved in student organizations, creating a community where I could find friends who share my interests. You don’t find that every day.
After attending Hamilton College, you landed in the Big Apple. Tell us about that journey.
Being a person who is open to new opportunities, saying yes, and connecting with people allowed me to be open to these ideas and end up where I am now.
I ultimately graduated from Hamilton in 2015 with a concentration in Asian studies—I focused specifically on the Chinese political economy. While in college, I was actively reaching out to Hamilton College alumni that were largely based in New York City about summer internships, because I knew I ultimately wanted to end up living here. Through those connections, I had the opportunity of joining the founding team of a tech startup called Smidgen, a second language acquisition mobile application for people who travel but can’t speak the local language. I was able to continue working for them remotely during the school year, then took on a full-time role immediately post-college.
Then, a recruiter reached out on LinkedIn saying that they were looking for a product manager to join Nickelodeon to work on the Nick app, their flagship mobile application for kids. Coming from a startup, I didn’t know what product management was, but going through this job description I felt a lot of these were responsibilities were things that I was doing or able to do. I took the interview at Nickelodeon on a Monday, came back in on a Thursday, and as I was leaving the office, they extended the offer. For me, Nickelodeon is an iconic brand. I grew up watching so much of the content on Nickelodeon, I was definitely a Nick kid, and so working at Nickelodeon was and still is a childhood dream.
I think of my time at Nickelodeon in three phases. The first phase was working on the Nick app, trying to figure out the best ways to innovate new, interactive experiences for children to engage in the app.
The second phase, which was truly so fun, was a short time spent on what is called the Nickelodeon Fan Box. This is the innovation lab inside of Nickelodeon whose mission is to focus on where kids are playing next. At the time, augmented reality, the voice assistant platforms like Alexa and Google Assistant were coming online, so we were thinking of all these ways to just get Nickelodeon characters live on these platforms. I was on the team that launched Nickelodeon’s first voice-based application called the Sponge Bob Challenge, which is a memory-based application and is still available on the Alexa and Google Assistant platforms. Then, I worked on the Do Not Touch Button augmented reality app, which was really, really cool.
The last phase was working on the relaunch Noggin, a subscription service for preschoolers. That brought me to Warsaw, Poland for five months, working with some of our engineers there.
After Noggin launched, HBO Max reached out, looking for a product manager. I was very content at Nickelodeon, but I took the conversation because you never know what’s going to happen. Ultimately, I found out that this role was for HBO Max, one of the newest streaming services that will come out later this year. This is a really exciting opportunity—to be working on a product in the “streaming wars,” entering the media landscape at a time where everyone is so incredibly interested. Consumers are so eager and hungry for this kind of product and content.
How did Holy Trinity prepare you for your success?
I’ve always been drawn to connecting with people and leadership roles. Being a product manager, one of the core competencies is leadership in the sense that you can influence the organization with knowledge, with data, with relationship building, and by intimately knowing the users that are using your product.
Looking back, that’s what Ms. Lohenry did for me as a student. She treated us as valued users, making sure she knew us and delivering content to us in ways we could embrace. She taught me core competencies and skills; I didn’t recognize until later in life how influential they are to me as a person and my character, morals, and values.