Editor’s note: This has been cross-posted from the White House’s blog.
Earlier this spring President Obama issued a challenge to businesses, nonprofits and government: Work together to provide pathways to employment for low-income and disconnected youth. The resulting Youth Jobs+ initiative brought together these groups to create pathways to employment for young Americans. One of those employers – Discovery Communications – is once again top of mind for many as the global media company celebrates the close of its 26th “Shark Week.” But for the hundreds of interns hired by Discovery as part of the White House Youth Jobs+ initiative, the debut of Shark Week is a bittersweet moment as it also means the conclusion of their internship experience.
Discovery Communications hires more than 200 junior and senior undergraduates and graduate students in the spring and summer for 10-12 week paid internships. With offices in Silver Spring, New York City, Miami, Los Angeles, Chicago, Atlanta, Nashville and Detroit, interns have the opportunity to get on the job experience in a number of exciting media industry occupations.
This year, Discovery utilized an innovative video interview system and key partnerships with foundations like the Emma Bowen Foundation, The Posse Foundation, T. Howard Foundation and The Louis Carr Foundation to expand the geographical and demographic reach of their candidate pool, and had almost 14,000 applicants. In 2013, 72 percent of the participating interns are female and 30 percent of interns are ethnically diverse.
We asked a few of the interns working with Discovery Communications’ U.S. Hispanic networks/Latin America operation out of Miami to reflect on what the experience meant, and how they plan to use what they learned moving forward.
Robertocarlos Marroquin, a student from Miami Dade College had this to say:
Summer 2013 has been the summer I have been dreaming for years, when random facets of my life seemed to finally come together and call to mind who I am meant to be.
On April 26th I got a missed call and a voice mail … I still have it saved. The voice simply said: “I am calling from Discovery can you give me a call whenever you have a chance.”
Interning for the Media Technology Production & Operations Division gave me the opportunity to unleash my creativity and opened my eyes to new career possibilities. I was able to learn about quality control methods, the importance of keeping good metadata so that each segment stayed organized, and even how to insert and validate closed captioning so that what we aired could be enjoyed by everyone.
When I thought it was a little odd to learn “old-school” editing techniques using a VTR (Video Tape Recorder), Armando — one of the mentors I met at Discovery – simply told me with a smile: “You never know where life might take you but is good to be prepared just in case they don’t have computers where you land.”
But the experience that I had, and the mentors that I met, did much more than prepare me with the skills I need. It made me a better person and prepared me as a future professional. The whole experience gave me the confidence to become a “do-er” and have a clear idea of where I want to take my life.
For Quincy O’Bryan, another intern in the Miami office and student at Miami Dade College, the experience led to the some life lessons and some amazing memories.
When my professor encouraged me to look into a Discovery Channel Internship, I had no idea that the experience would be something that would change my life. Every day I learned something new, from understanding the workflow of an editor using cutting-edge equipment, to seeing how the administrative tasks in the Post Production Department all come together.
I discovered how to work with others in a professional, fast-paced environment. I took notes continuously because I was gaining an immense amount of information and I’m sure I’ll refer to these notes when I start my career.
Working on promotional spots with experts for some of my favorite shows and seeing the end product air live gave me a real sense of accomplishment. I had the chance to work side by side with extremely talented editors and audio mixers as if I were getting private lessons. I helped choose music and sound effects for the special six-part series, Norteamerica (North America) and even helped create different effects the Shark Week satellite feeds in Mexico, Venezuela, Argentina and Brazil.
June 23rd is a date I will never forget because I assisted with a rare, live broadcast as Nik Wallenda’s death-defying trek across the grand canyon gave me the opportunity to photograph the Miami Discovery Channel team in action.
I got more out of this internship than I could have ever anticipated. Through this opportunity, I am closer to identifying a specific career. No matter what professional position I pursue, I am looking forward to bringing fresh ideas and original content to the television industry.
As a participant in the White House Youth Jobs+ initiative, Discovery is not only training young people for the in-demand careers of the media industry. They are also helping to shape the lives of young people across the country and helping to shape the future of its workforce at the same time.
Eric Seleznow is acting assistant secretary of labor for employment and training.