Monique Ocampo is a graduate of the University of St. Thomas with a B.A. in Communications. She teaches Sunday School at her local church and spends her time doing volunteer work.
One September afternoon, I walked into the studio and saw a camera set up. Several people from the office were lined up behind a chair talking to a camera.
“What’s going on here?” I asked.
“We’re shooting the commentary and asking everyone to participate,” they said.
When it was my turn to get in the chair, I was asked to give my opinion about the referees strike and their bad calls during recent games. Unfortunately, I had no knowledge of football, even after living in Texas for six years, and I felt like a deer in the headlights as the bright studio lights shined on me.
Sounds like a scene out of a reality show, right?
Later on that day, I took a look at the finished product. Lo and behold, I was in the video for all of five seconds.
“I’m an intern,” I said, looking at the camera with a confused look. “I am not getting paid to do this!” Then the video cut to the next news studio employee.
No, I was not being filmed for a reality show. It was just another typical day at my news studio internship. But in some ways, it felt like being on a reality show. Every day, I was given an assignment by my supervisor. I was expected to do my best work because I was constantly evaluated. There were times that I didn’t get along with my fellow interns, a “shocking twist,” and some crying, but overall, it was a really great experience.
If you want to do well in your internship without becoming “infamous” like some reality show contestants, here are some tips for you:
My internship took place during an election year. When Election Day came, I was asked to get food for everyone. I planned ahead by deciding on getting my food from the closest convenience store. However, I had to carpool with another intern who used an unreliable GPS in the hopes of finding a certain grocery store and ended up getting us lost. By the time we got back, my supervisor was really mad at my fellow intern for taking so long while I got straight back to work.
Find opportunities to stand out.
Show up everyday looking like the best version of yourself and be on the lookout for the best possible opportunity to leave a good impression. One way I stood out was with my sense of humor. During meetings, I would sometimes contribute a catchy headline for news stories. When I was asked to do a sound bite for the replacement referee news piece, I threw in a joke about me looking for the studio’s usual color commentator. At the performance evaluation, I presented a video commentating on political ads. Everyone in the room laughed at the jokes I used and my supervisor praised me for being a positive presence in the workplace.
Keep to your commitments.
Take your assignments seriously because you are constantly being evaluated. One “shocking twist” that happened during my internship was when I went to the station hoping to carpool with my fellow interns to pass out fliers at a football game, only to find out that none of them showed up. Since the sports team already left the news studio and the game was too far for me to get to, my supervisor gave me credit for showing up. Everyone else, however, got in major trouble for not showing up, to the point that the supervisor seriously considered failing them. Thankfully, like any good reality show, they all got one “last chance” to prove that they were taking the internship seriously.
Be willing to be there for the long haul.
Some internships require long hours and even if you’re balancing an internship with classes, you will be expected to give 100%. That “last chance” that my supervisor offered to the other interns was to go out to another football game that took place in the Texas backwoods. It was a very long drive out to the middle of nowhere. When we got there, we were the only ones who got bitten by mosquitoes. We stayed long enough to get the scores at half time and high-tailed it home as fast as we could, laughing all the way.
Treat the internship as if it were your full-time job.
Being in an internship involves a lot more than just completing an outfit in a day or two or doing some kind of physical challenge to win immunity. It involves being flexible and being able to multi-task. I worked three different departments of the news station in three months. At the assignment desk, I kept track of the news, wrote press releases for local events that the news station would cover as well as news profiles that the assignment editor gave to me. When I worked in the web department, I tagged videos and uploaded them to the site. In the production department, I looked over everyone else’s news stories and edited the videos when I was asked to do so.
As strange as it sounds, an internship can be a lot like a reality show. There are performance evaluations and the most hardworking get rewarded. There will be times when you don’t get along with everyone and times that you might cry, but it’s all part of the ride. In the end, internships aren’t about winning the job, but about getting as much experience as possible.