Two NIU broadcast students spent this past summer preparing for their future careers by interning with professionals at ABC 7 Chicago (WLS-TV).
One student, senior Jorge Rodas, spent 11 weeks shadowing reporter Evelyn Holmes and even got a chance to record an anchor reel as though he were doing a live broadcast. Although it never aired, the reel will make a significant contribution to his portfolio and was also a dream come true for Rodas.
“It was nice to gain the experience of working at the number one station in the nation’s third largest market,” Rodas said.
“Before I started, I thought I would be spending all of my time sitting at the copy desk editing stories, but I actually was out on the street on the front line,” he added. “I was out talking to families of violence victims or trying to talk to the mayor, and then we would go back to the truck. [Evelyn] would write up her story, and then she would get on-air. I got to watch the whole process, five days a week.”
Rodas was one of two NIU students who were placed in internships by the Illinois Broadcasters Association (IBA) through its Multicultural Internship Program. The second student, Lauren Scott, was placed at WTVO-TV in Rockford. According to the IBA, selection for the program is highly competitive as they narrow 35 to 40 qualified candidates down to just eight finalists.
“This year, NIU students made up a quarter of the students who were placed through this program, which speaks highly of their talent given that IBA searches at all of the state universities for students to fill these positions,” said Cathy Doederlein, NIU coordinator of internships for the humanities.
“After an application and selection process, they will place you in a station that best fits you,” Rodas added. Students through this program also receive a grant as part of their participation.
Taurean Small also landed an internship at WLS-TV this past summer, but not through the IBA. Instead, he found his internship though his mentor, senior reporter Charles Thomas. Small spent the duration of his internship working with Thomas.
“Considering I was assigned to a senior reporter, the stories we covered were all his own. So while I wasn’t able to venture out in other aspects of reporting like interns assigned to general assignment reporters, I was able to cover politics and politics only,” Small said. “I provided research behind Charles’s stories. I pulled people for interviews and shadowed the day-to-day operations of the newsroom.”
Small said he believes the internship will help him eventually land a job.
“It realistically put my opportunities and limitations in perspective. I was able to identify the advantages and disadvantages of working in a major market, making my job search after graduation a clearer one.”
For all three NIU interns, the experiences helped to build connections and create opportunities for the future. Though Small cannot elaborate on the details of his opportunities just yet, he said that the experience has opened many doors for him. Likewise, Rodas said that there is the possibility to be hired as a desk assistant at WLS-TV after his graduation in May.
by Constance Ervins