Falling in love with radio: why interning outside of your comfort zone is a good thing

Over the summer, I interned at Radio One Dallas, broadcaster of 97.9 The Beat and Boom! 94.5. I had no previous experience working in radio, nor did I listen to hip hop or rap, the genres of both stations. As a print and digital journalism major who focused in news writing, I was pretty intimidated to even apply. Even worse, I had only just finished my freshman year, an age at which most internships would have skipped right over my application without a second glance.

Nonetheless, I applied, and a month later was walking into an interview I felt I was woefully unprepared for.

Luckily for me, my boyfriend was a fan of the genres and had given me a little crash course. On top of that, I'd been listening to the stations on and off for the weeks leading up to the interview, so I had something to talk about (I had really enjoyed a segment they'd run on Boom! called Lost Legends, a tribute to artists who had since passed away). I still felt out of place however, having to say no to every question the recruiter asked about my experience.

No, I'd never voiced a commercial. I had very limited experience with audio editing. I'd never even taken a class in radio. I walked out feeling pretty sure I was never going to hear back from them.

I was eating at Crooked Crust, a popular pizza place in Denton with my dad who had driven up from my hometown near Houston to visit me after the first day of summer classes, when my phone went off. "It's an unknown number," I told him. "It might be an interview or something."

Having already pushed the position out of my mind completely, you can imagine my surprise when I answered to "Hello, is this Jynn? This is Radio One Dallas calling to make sure you're still interested in the summer internship position. If you are, you've got the job."

The next eight weeks of my life would be filled with uncertainty. I accepted the offer, moved around some classes, and set to work. They would have me work in a different department every week, and the last week would be for me to design a project on what I'd learned during my time there.

They were a great group of people, and by the end of my internship most of them were more like friends than colleagues. That's not to say the experience was in any way easy.

The first time my supervisor left me alone in the studio to write and voice a PSA after giving me a quick run down of the sound board and the program used for recording, I remember thinking to myself, "When are they going to realize they've hired the wrong girl. I have no idea what I'm doing."

That feeling was made worse when, after listening to what I'd come up with an hour or two later, she told me "It's okay if your style is a little more... NPR, but we're an entertainment station, so try to jazz it up a little."

I remember feeling frustrated on my way home, and trying desperately to mimic her voice while I listened to the station in my car. Sure enough, when I went in the next day, she was impressed. "I knew we'd get you out of your shell!" She said with a smile.

As I made new connections and soaked up as much information as I could from all of the talented people at the station, I could feel myself doing just that. Each day I walked in with a little more bounce in my step, and each day my voice grew stronger.

Finally, for my final project, I wrote and voiced a commercial advertising my internship. The whole station showed up to my presentation, and despite shaking like a leaf, I got a standing ovation. They loved it, and I walked out of the doors on that last day with a new set of skills that I never would have gained without taking that chance.

Not only did I learn new abilities to help build my resume, but I discovered that I had passions for things I would have never faced sticking to newspaper. I loved posting for the on air personalities while they did their bits, and I enjoyed going out on promotional "Van hits" with the promotions team so much I almost applied for a part time job at the station when my internship was over.

So whether you think you're qualified or not, don't be afraid to open new doors for yourself and take those risks. You might just find something you love.

Have you had a similar experience you'd like to share? Let us know on Facebook or send an email to jynnschubert@justjynn.com

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