This three-part first-person series highlights internships completed by Walla Walla University students during summer 2017. (Part two of three.)
by Kyler Alvord, WWU senior majoring in communications
"A few months in New York City will teach a person a lot, but the most important thing I learned from my summer internship with CBS This Morning is that I’m capable―of keeping up with Ivy League students, of acquiring an entirely new skillset, and of working as many hours as it takes to get a task done.
"My journey to the CBS Broadcast Center started in the summer of 2016 when I began an internship application essay with the word 'YOLO.' I had spent a month perfecting my resume, creating an online portfolio and collecting reference letters, and when it came time to fill out my CBS News application, I knew I needed to stand out … so I took a risk.
"I applied for internship positions at dozens of companies that summer—both prestigious and underwhelming—and when response letters came back, only one company advanced me to the next round of hiring: CBS News. I studied up on the company, interviewed via Skype, and before I knew it, I had been offered a spot in the intern class of 2017.
"Fifty-one young adults comprised my class―some students, some recent graduates―and we were each assigned to a department or program within CBS News. Before arriving, I was matched with CBS This Morning (CTM), the network’s morning news program.
"After my first day on the job, I wrestled with the realization that print journalism and broadcast journalism have very little in common. I naively expected to spend my time writing and copy editing—the skills I’ve practiced the most—and it wasn’t until I sat down at a desk and learned what CTM expected of me that I started to comprehend just how differently TV news operates. What does 'flipping a video' mean? What’s the difference between a producer and a director? What is a SOT, and how does it relate to a VO? The questions kept coming, and I felt guilty for filling a spot in the internship program when I could barely decipher day-one terminology.
"Eventually, I started understanding broadcast and handling tasks on my own. For a bulk of the summer, I worked from 3 a.m. to noon. For the first few hours of each morning, I sat with the broadcast associates in CTM’s newsroom helping producers gather materials for their stories. Around 6:30 a.m., I’d head next door to Studio 57 for the guest relations portion of my job: greeting the guests and making sure they were powdered, miked, and sitting in the green room before their scheduled hit times. Once the show ended and the guests were in their return cars, I would go back to the CTM newsroom to continue responding to producers’ requests.
"The interns were told on orientation day to use our time and resources wisely, so I met as many people and shadowed as many areas of the department as possible. I scheduled meetings with anchors, executives, producers, writers and everyone in between; I attended the morning pitch meetings; I script ran for a couple of days, sitting in the studio during the show and delivering scripts to the anchors during commercial breaks; I shadowed an associate producer one day, where we ran between the newsroom, graphics department and control room throughout the morning to make sure the live segment was planned and executed properly; and I received some helpful pointers from the social media team.
"The intern coordinator worked hard to make our summer as useful as possible, too. Every Thursday, a different CBS News powerhouse spoke to my intern class and answered questions about the industry. We dialogued with people like David Rhodes, the youngest network news president in American history, and Susan Zirinsky, a broadcast legend and inspiration for the 1987 film 'Broadcast News.'
"But words can only go so far. To give each intern a well-rounded and hands-on experience, the intern coordinator also randomly grouped us with other interns and gave us a week off work to create a news package. My group spent the week in Philadelphia interviewing and gathering footage, and when we returned, we met several times late at night to write the script. At the end of the summer, our story was critiqued by a panel of CBS News executives and anchors and screened alongside all the other groups’ projects.
"This internship allowed me to join a top-tier network at an especially heated time for news media. CBS This Morning taught me that journalists play an important role in connecting the world, and while I’m still deciding what my next move is, I know I’m chasing the right career. If I could offer one piece of advice to anyone seeking an internship, it would be to plan ahead and take some risks. If you only live once, why waste time?"
About the Author
Kyler Alvord studies communications at Walla Walla University with an emphasis in journalism and public relations. He was a CBS News intern at the CBS Broadcast Center in Manhattan, where he was assigned to CBS This Morning and worked out of the newsroom and backstage of Studio 57. Currently, he is a resident dean at Sittner and Meske halls and a writer for University Relations at WWU.
Posted Sept. 22, 2017