My intern advice: if you don’t ask questions, you never learn

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EL PASO, Texas — As a senior majoring in multimedia journalism at UTEP I knew I had to obtain some work experience in my field to get my foot in the door after I graduate. This semester I was able to land an internship with KVIA ABC 7 to learn how to become a producer.

Being a news junkie I thought I had this in the bag. This was not the case. Although I eventually got the hang of it, I first had to learn how to overcome obstacles.

It was not the type of internship where you are asked to fetch coffee for the boss and run crazy errands for people. I sat in my designated desk as experienced reporters and producers told me what to do.

After my nerves settled I began to feel more comfortable in my work environment. I knew my strongest skill was writing so I did the best I could to write stories to be on air.

Writing apparently was a lot harder than I thought in a news broadcast station. Although my stories were solid, producers told me I had to work on my leads, which is the opening statement in a news story. If it isn’t interesting, then people won’t pay attention.

After a while I got better and I was happy when my first story, about the fifth anniversary of hurricane Katrina and its impact as one of the worst natural disasters to ever hit our country, made it on the air. I couldn’t believe that I wrote something the anchors were reading on live television. I felt proud of that story and my confidence grew.

The next task I set for myself was to learn how the control room works.  Although I am a writer at heart, I know that to succeed you have to be a master of all trades. I learned that are no video operators working the cameras in the studio. A control room audio technician maneuvers the cameras with a computer.

I learned the audio technician also runs the soundboard. At first it looks confusing because there are so many buttons.  But everything is labeled. Once you know which mic belongs to whom, everything pretty much falls into place.

I also got to work on graphics with the graphic designers. The graphics have templates and my job was to basically fill all the holes and make them look vibrant. I also managed the teleprompter, which was pretty nerve-racking. At I was afraid I was going to mess up on air and the anchors would be lost. I thought I would become the first intern ever fired.

Luckily, things never went wrong. I practiced many times on pre-recorded shows so it was simple actually doing it live. I learned that things aren’t always what they seem; it may look hard but with time and practice it gets easy.

Not only did I do all these assignments, but I also got to edit videos, go to meetings, and follow reporters on assignments. Going on the scenes with reporters is a great learning experience.

Reporters don’t just show up in front of the camera and say their lines. They have to prepare interviews, write down their stories, and edit their own video even though they have a cameraman with them. They have tight deadlines and that is stressful at times.

One time I went on an assignment to the Lower Valley where a boy had died in a heated car. It was a sensitive story but we stayed on the scene from about 3 p.m. until nearly 10 p.m. in 90-degree temperatures, cramped inside a small news van.

On this assignment I helped write the story and I dubbed a woman speaking Spanish. It was hard but the feeling afterwards was great.

In the newsroom I always made my presence known. I let them know that I was there to help in any way I can. They have asked me to help produce, pick SOTS (sound on tape) for clips, log people’s quotes and much more. They knew that they could count on me.

I have been lucky to be there on important days like when President Barrack Obama visited Ft. Bliss. It was a hectic and extraordinarily busy day. Everyone, including me, had something to do. I was there for the El Paso County election night waiting for the results and video to come in so I could log everything politicians said for footage the anchors and reporters could use.

During my intern experience I learned that if you don’t ask questions you never learn. There were times I thought I was annoying because I would ask everyone how things worked.

But people like when you ask questions because they see you are eager to learn. After working as an intern for several months, I now feel experienced. I have gained knowledge, friendships, and confidence in my abilities.

I feel more prepared for what’s to come in the future. My advice to future interns would be not to give up. There are times you will feel discouraged but if you have a passion for what you do things will come easy. You just have to keep trying. In the end, it is worth it.

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  1. I think people don’t realize how important it is to ask questions during their internships or are afraid to look bad. In fact, not asking questions and making mistakes looks much worse. You never know what you will be able to experience if you are open to it.

  2. I am tying to land an internship here as well and this has been VERY helpful! Thank you for sharing your experience.

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