My work day would begin at 3am. I would pull myself out of bed at two-thirty in order to make it to the television station by 2:55am. I was always cutting it close. 3am is early and a girl cannot function without that first cup of coffee; not at that hour at least.
I would write my copy, log tapes, sit on the desk and answer phones. Then wait. Wait in anticipation for that first assignment. The one that helped us coin the term “Daybreak” for our early morning show. That may not be original. But, it works.
What is this fantastic job? Television Field Anchor shadow. How much does it pay? Not one red cent. My position was an internship at an ABC affiliate in Dallas, TX (WFAA) and it was the best job I never got paid for.
Just the rush of presenting that first story of the morning made it all worth wild. Running out of the door with copy (the news report) in hand. Making sure the reporter was prepped and ready for that first segment.
I had been on all sides of the camera (anchor, operator) and was enthusiastic with any duty given to me. Just being out in the field was a thrill.
The other alternative would be to sit in the studio and write or run copy (take the day’s stories to the news anchors). Or direct visitor’s, contributing anchors or celebrities from the green room (yes. It was really green) to the studio floor.
My academic pursuits have always been in line with communications (radio and television). Those jobs are incredibly coveted. But are remarkably fun.
An intern’s position really is just that of the office lackey. But since no one really wanted to intern on the day break segment I was able to go into the field with the reporter. The best days would have me in the field all day.
My day started at 3AM because I needed to get things ready for the first segment. The field reporter really didn’t have to be on set until 6AM. But, if it was breaking news, she would get paged and had to respond to the station immediately. Once we were in the field on location for a 4 AM apartment fire.
As an intern, and due to liability, my duties were limited. But I was allowed to run cables and monitor the satellite truck. On really slow days I would be able to handle the camera and organize our locations shoot.
Not all of the stories we covered were life changing, major events. Some were human interest related and funny.
Gene Autry’s hometown is Tioga, Texas. I know this because we did an early morning tribute to him; with yodeling accompaniment. Imagine listening to the smooth sounds of a Gene Autry impersonator from 6AM to 11AM.
The shoot was very intriguing. But I got caught up in this little town with a corner store, thrift shop and spa; all within walking distance of each other.
Being an intern out in the field also meant covering the State Fair opening, reporting on a local hospice and interviewing people for the annual car show at the Dallas Convention center.
Nope, this internship did not pay a thing. But what I gained in experience, honing my networking skills, learning self presentation and perseverance was priceless.
Internships are not always non-paid. Many corporations have paid intern positions. Especially those that require travel or relocation.
An internship is also a way for you to prove to the organization you are ready, willing and able to accept a position with that company and represent them in a way that will make you worthy of your salary.
Unfortunately, the station had a hiring freeze the term after my internship. That is the truth in advertising. All of those coveted positions came to a screeching halt.
My suggestion, if your career pursuits are geared toward broadcasting, would be:
– Start volunteering during your junior year. This will allow you to network and gain knowledge for the position you prefer.
– If you can volunteer then you may be able to skip the entire intern process. Only thing is, you may not get credit for your volunteer work. You’ll have to run that by your academic counselor.
– If you have an organization in mind you would like to work for check their internet site for intern requirements. If none are listed, contact the administrator for the department you’re interested in and get the name of the person who heads that department. Smail or email them with your desire to intern. Some internship’s have opened up in areas where they didn’t exist before because someone just asked.
– Know what your long term goal will be. If you want to be associate producer working with the field reporter will be of no help to you. Let the hiring official know your career goals during your interview.
Yep, my most favorite and exciting job did not pay me one red cent. But, when working on movie sets or doing voice over in the studio directors do not have to give me much direction because of my hurried and sometimes outrageous experience as a Field Reporters shadow for the morning news.