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Intern Diaries: The Radio World is a Busy World!

It never once crossed my mind that I’d end up interning for the company who owns one of the radio stations I’ve been listening to since I was five. I’ve been working at the Richmond location of one of the largest communication companies in the world for a week and a half now, and it’s been such a great experience already. I usually do better working in a fast-paced environment, so this is a perfect setup for me. There are SIX very different stations that all broadcast from the same building, and it seems like there is always something going on. 

Now, I know what some of you may be thinking. “Working at a radio station? Do you just sit there and watch people play music?” As it turns out, there’s a lot more to radio than meets the ear (hah.) I was hired as a digital content intern, so most of my time is spent away from the studios where all of the broadcasting goes down. I’ve spent the past eight days doing a lot of website work, graphics, research and social media. And, as an added bonus, my cubicle is near the sales staff, so I’ve been given a glimpse at how advertising and marketing works too. Plus, having your own cubicle is really, really cool.

 Since all of these different things go on under one roof, it can get pretty intimidating when you’re working in the broadcast industry, and you may not know exactly where and how to start. I wanted to be a part of the Intern Diaries to share what I will learn this summer- not just in terms of work etiquette, but how the broadcast world works in today’s ever-evolving technology age. So far it’s been an eye opening and (for the sake of another radio pun) ear opening experience.

I gave myself the first few days to establish my workflow and familiarize myself with the company.  Here are some of the valuable lessons I’ve learned since I started that have made it easier to navigate my internship!

No question is a stupid question.

The first time I was given a task with Photoshop, I was really excited. This was my time to shine! I didn’t waste those middle school years designing my own Myspace pictures for nothing!

But, it had been a little while since I had used Photoshop. In fact, I hadn’t had used Photoshop since winter break. Three minutes in, and I was desperately trying to remember how to transform and resize a picture.

An internal argument ensued. “This is the easiest thing to do in Photoshop! How can you not remember? You will surely look like a n00b who has no idea what’s going on.” I tell you, I tried everything under the sun. Stroked random keyboard shortcuts in hopes of figuring it out. Conducted multiple awkwardly-worded Google searches to stumble upon the answer. Finally, after realizing I was wasting a massive amount of time, a light went on in my head. I knew what I had to do. Reluctantly, I walked into my supervisor’s office and asked her point blank. Guess what? She was more than willing to help, and even better, didn’t act like I was a n00b at all. Crisis averted! (It’s CTRL-T, by the way.)

But seriously, I learned something very important that day: Talk to people if you don’t know what you’re doing! Don’t worry about looking “inexperienced” or “needy.” The whole point of an internship is to learn things and broaden your skill set. If you forget how to do something simple or need a little guidance when you’re working on your first project, don’t hesitate to ask for help. Your supervisor will want to help you, and trust me; they’ll be able to help you way better than any search engine can.

Take a break. Seriously. I’m serious!

Three days in, and I was finally settling into a work routine. Things were going well… until I totally forgot to eat my lunch and only drank about a third of my water.

Around 4:30, I got one of the worst migraines I’ve had in a long time. As soon as I felt it come on, I knew that I had only myself to blame. You are given breaks for a reason! If you’re like me and think you can get through a day without giving yourself an hour to just relax, think again. Lunch break isn’t just about eating delicious food- it’s about giving you time to reset.

Breaks are wonderful because most jobs allow you a chance to get out of the office. Make friends with a fellow co-worker or intern and make it a weekly ritual to grab lunch together. If you’re in a city, go for a stroll and let off some steam. You will feel so much better than just staying in the building and finishing your lunch within 10 minutes.

If you can’t seem to pull yourself away from your work, like I sometimes find myself doing, then make sure you pack a big lunch with a lot of snacks. If you’re on the go at your job, still carry snacks and water with you everywhere. I’ve learned the hard way that trying to go all day without a little bite to eat every few hours is not the way to go.

And, of course: water. All day. Every day. You can never drink enough water!

Shadowing ROCKS!

Hands-on internships are great, and it feels great to be able to have some responsibility in the real world. With that being said, I’ve found that I have actually learned a lot by just sitting back and watching others work. The third day of my internship, my supervisor graciously suggested that I go shadow a reporter for one of the news stations.  I’m so glad I got to have that experience, and I ended up going out with the reporter and another intern to a really important press conference in the city.   I got to spend a few hours out of the office and got exposure to other aspects of my workplace.   On the first day of your internship, make sure you let your supervisor know that you’d love to shadow other employees and learn more about how things operate around the building!  

It’s crazy how much I’ve learned in such a short amount of time. I’ve created web pages, done a lot of graphic work, and have even edited a few short videos for social media.  Working at a radio station is a great way to employ your communication skills while also indulging in your creative, fun side.  I look forward to the remaining month and a half and can’t wait to share more lessons I’ve learned!

Video editing, website work, and more: interactive online media is a huge part of the radio industry.

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Laura Baugh

Virginia Tech

Laura Baugh is a senior at Virginia Tech where she is double majoring in Communications and Film. When not busy with school, Laura enjoys editing film and video, being the general manager at VTTV, spending time with her amazing sisters in Gamma Phi Beta, playing her guitar, and reading Her Campus! She is also obsessed with her school's athletics. Go Hokies!
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