Standing out in today’s job market is more difficult than ever before. Most entry level jobs even require a few years of experience. Yet, you need a job to get experience, so it seems like a cycle of unemployment you can’t avoid. The best way to buff up your resume while still in school is through a professional internship. As a rising Junior at the University of Florida, I knew I needed to find a way to stand out while proving my competency outside of the classroom.
I knew I wanted to work in the communications field, but a social media class left me questioning if I truly wanted to go into news like I had always planned. Wanting to return home, I explored internships in Naperville, IL. That’s when I found Naperville Community Television. The station offered part-time internships in all the different departments that comprise a station. NCTV17 had programming, news, sports and marketing internships.
This wide range immediately peaked my interest. It was clear that NCTV17 wanted students to have the chance to gain experience in whatever their field was. They even have high school internships, something largely unseen.
I will be honest and say I didn’t have much on my resume at the time. I was just starting to look at the marketing side of communications. Without an ‘impressive’ resume, I was nervous to apply — submitting an application is scary when rejection is a very real possibility. But, I needed experience. So I took my chances and submitted myself for the Marketing Internship.
Because I was still attending school in Florida, I had my interview via Skype. The interview was relatively standard. I explained why I was interested in NCTV17 and how my coursework would align with the station’s mission. Without experience to fall back on I researched the station extensively. I came into the interview with ideas on how to help the station grow its viewership. After about two weeks I heard back, and I was chosen as one of the 2014 summer Marketing Interns. I was so excited to get a taste of the marketing field while still being exposed to the news industry.
Throughout my internship at NCTV17 I helped write newsletters, press releases, social posts and general market research reports. All work I had never done before. My writing went on to be shared via email list serv with the local community. I also was able to be published in the Chicago Tribute’s Trib Local, which publishes content for the Chicago suburbs.
Three days a week I would dress in business casual attire and go into the station to gain valuable work experience. I didn’t realize it at the time, but my time at NCTV17 was truly preparing me for the real world. I grew as a writer and learned how to support observations with research. I learned how a television station operated and was able to support the filming of segments.
Most importantly, and something you don’t see often with internships, the station adapted to my needs. As I began to express more of an interest in social media, rather than news, my work load began to shift. I focused on researching the trends of the major social networks and how NCTV17 could reach more people in the community.
In addition to my work writing for the station, I would document the other interns work to share on social platforms. I was even in charge of writing and planning the Fall 2014 campaign “Where Are The Interns Now.” This campaign profiled every student, including those in high school. I showcased what they were doing in the months following the successful completion of their NCTV17 internship. Being the head of my own campaign as a content creator inspired me to continue to pursue an emphasis in social media marketing when I returned to school.
As I look back at my time with NCTV17, it’s clear that it completely shaped my career path. I joined the station at a time when I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do. Through hands on training I learned how to write clear and succinct content that would grab the audience’s attention. In every interview I’ve had since, I’ve been able to explain, in detail, how NCTV17 helped shape me into the communicator I am today. When I got back to school after my internship, it was clear that I wanted a career in digital marketing.
When I graduated from the University of Florida with my Bachelor of Science in Telecommunication, I wasn’t sure what the next step was. NCTV17 helped me navigate this time. Two years later I reached out to the station and continued to develop my skills as an analyst. I pulled data from their social profiles and created succinct reports. By pointing out their successes, I was able to give the station valuable insights into how to more effectively push out their content.
My internship was long over, but NCTV17 still found a way I could practice creating digital reports. It’s not often that you find an organization that will work with their needs as well as students. Even now as I complete my first year of graduate school, NCTV17 stepped up and allowed my group to work with them for a class project.
The best part is that NCTV17 is a non-profit, so all work that interns do is actually used by the station. You never go on a coffee run, you do valuable work to help the station grow within the Naperville community. Every skill I wanted developed was included in my day to day responsibilities with no questions asked. The station has treated me like another family member… and they just can’t seem to shake me!
As I’m now back at the University of Florida for my Master of Arts in Mass Communication, I’m constantly applying my professional experience to my coursework. No matter where the future takes me, I know I’ll always have a home at Naperville Community Television.