Internships can open doors to eager students

Educators In the News

Maybe you remember this line from Robert De Niro in The Intern, “I just know there’s a hole in my life and I need to fill it…soon.” There may be a hole in a college students resume and they need to fill it…with an internship at your television or radio station. Likewise, there may be a hole in your workforce, and you need to fill it…soon. The professors on the WBA Education Committee assure us that today’s juniors and seniors in the communications curriculum are ready regarding technology, content creation, and marketing to fill various roles within our local stations.  

Right now, there are approximately 40 internships posted on the WBA website. Many have been filled or expired, but it’s a snapshot of numerous opportunities that stations have provided. One of the postings suggests that jobs could be filled by interns “learning and earning.” It’s a real win-win-win when budget minded broadcasters can pay an intern a reasonable hourly rate, realize greater productivity, and provide hands on experience for the student.

By definition, an internship is “the position of a student or trainee who works in an organization, sometimes without pay, in order to gain work experience or satisfy requirements for a qualification.” That said, our Gen Z friends bring a lot to the table that may justify a paycheck alongside invaluable exposure to the real world of broadcasting. Of course, the student achieves two more credits toward graduation while the station fulfills EEO credits.

Just a few of the common attributes of college students:

  1. Technical expertise: Hands-on experience with broadcast equipment and software
  2. Creative thinking: Uninhibited ideation without fear or fatigue
  3. Digital media skills: Expanding our interactive footprint
  4. Relatability: Ability to connect with young listeners and viewers
  5. Flexibility: Willing to assist wherever needed without a rigid job description

At our WBA Summer Conference, retired television manager and born leader, Chuck Roth, shared his roots with me. He graduated from UW-Stevens Point determined to go into management. He landed a sales internship, worked in advertising sales, and general management in the television industry. Chuck went on to be an industry leader, serve as the VP of a television group, WBA Board Chair, and Hall of Fame inductee.

Early in my career, an unpaid internship segued into a full-time paid position upon graduation. Doors opened in sales management, training roles, and general management. I told my staff, “I pursued a leadership position because I don’t take direction well.” Some of us like to play a role in others’ success.

According to NACE’s Internship Study, 70 percent of employers make a full-time job offer to interns; 80 percent of students accept; 56 percent of the interns land the full-time job.

Additionally, more than 34 percent of graduates report that internships “significantly” shifted their career direction. Our radio and television stations are an influential gateway to a fulfilling career in the broadcast industry!

When we open our doors to eager students, offer a meaningful experience, and we welcome the students as peers, we have harnessed a dynamic flow of talent.

There’s an adage, “Hire for talent, train for skill.” None of the above removes the need to train interns and seasoned pros alike.

Pierce Reese-Grimm, a business management and economics major at Ripon College completed an internship for credit with pay at Hometown Broadcasting in Ripon. Now he’s working as a part-time events coordinator while undergoing weekly training alongside an account executive; a win-win-win.

Meanwhile, the WBA advocates for mentorship opportunities among the young professionals, Mentoring Inspiring Women In Radio, plus Wisconsin Youth Apprenticeship.

It’s great to see broadcasters building a bench with the brightest stars of tomorrow!

As Robert De Niro said, “You’re never wrong to do the right thing.”

Mike O’Brien, Consultant/Trainer/Member Education Committee
O’Brien Betterment, LLC (former radio General Manager); mike@mikeobrienbetterment-com