Tiffany "TJ" Shimabukuro is the Program Planning Senior Manager for ABC Family in Burbank. She is part of a small team that schedules all programming (movies, series and specials) for the ABC Family network. TJ says, "It's a job I love waking up to go to every day."
Born and raised in Honolulu, Hawaii, TJ left the island to attend college on the mainland with the intent of playing softball at Eastern Oregon University. The summer before going away to college, she injured her throwing arm and had arthroscopic surgery to correct it. Unfortunately, her arm was never the same and she subsequently decided to hang up her cleats. But since she still needed to go to school, she went to Eastern Oregon for one year. It was just too rural for this girl from Hawaii. "I decided at that point to transfer to Portland State because I had visited Portland a lot on the weekends while at EOU, and the urban lifestyle was much more compatible with my personality," she says.
TJ says she would not be where she is today without PSU and the opportunity to do internships for credit which she says "prepared me with the 'real world' experience of an office/work environment."
"My time at Portland State was truly special. Once I discovered an interest in Communications (she was previously only studying biology), I was so much happier. The Communications program allowed me to obtain school credit for very integral internship programs that molded my career to this day. I was fortunate enough to spend a quarter in New York City, attending internships.
The first internship I did was a production internship for a very short-lived daily talk show called New York Central. I worked there part-time for one month before the show was cancelled. It was an interesting job that allowed me to experience television production first hand. I logged tapes, bought props for segments, and got to attend all sorts of dynamic interviews all over the city including one with Norah Jones before the Grammy success and with Tina Fey when she was head writer of SNL."
Upon returning to Portland, with growing resume in hand, TJ applied for an internship with the Portland Trail Blazers. This would be a dream come true as the Blazers were her favorite basketball team and she loved sports. TJ interned with the Sponsorship Sales and Service department for the entire 2002-2003 NBA season.
Her internship with the Blazers ended in June 2003. That same week TJ graduated with her B.S. degrees in Biology and Communication Studies. Two days after graduating, she packed up all of her things and headed south to Los Angeles. "It was while I was in New York that I decided I would move to LA upon graduation. After talking to everyone I worked with at my internships, they all encouraged me to move to LA to get into TV or film. Luckily, I had friends in LA which helped. When I would visit them, I'd go to Disneyland a lot. A part of me had always wanted to work for Disney too."
Two months after graduating from PSU, TJ got her first real full-time job. She was hired as the programming assistant at Fox Sports Net, the national cable sports network that oversaw the scheduling responsibilities of 20+ regional sports networks. Within two years, she was promoted to Manager of Scheduling. A few years down the road, her hiring manager at the time, who happened to be a New Yorker, told TJ he decided to hire her because of the New York internships she did.
After four years, an opportunity arose at Disney that seemed perfect for her. It was a scheduling job with their up and coming cable network, ABC Family. "Disney was on my list of dream companies to work for so I had to pursue it," she says. "I was lucky enough again to get the job but coincidentally enough, one of the interviewers was also a Portland State alum! Even though we attended the school at the same time, we didn't know each other, but we still bond over the connection to this day."