How I Turned My YouTube Channel Into The Ultimate Media Internship

To me, YouTube’s infamous red logo didn’t just represent watching videos; it helped me press play on my dreams and my career. 

I think we can all agree there’s a lot to be learned from YouTube. Whether it’s a DIY project, a music video or math help, the possibilities for learning are endless. While lots of learning comes from watching videos, just as much learning and experience can come from making them strategically. 

When I was searching for internships during the summer of 2019, I filled out loads of applications, redid my resume countless times and wrote cover letters like a mad woman, yet all I heard back were the sounds of crickets humming with rejection. We know we need and want them, but finding the right internship can be rough.

There are endless amounts of competition, some businesses want you to work for free, and you’re never quite experienced enough to essentially get experience. We’ve all been there, and I’d had enough of not being enough. 

I started my YouTube channel when I got accepted into the Disney College Program for the spring term of 2019. I knew that vlogging throughout the program was a popular thing to do, and I figured it was the perfect time to explore my fascination with the platform.

What began as innocent curiosity became a passion for videography and graphic design and a thrill for analytics and strategy. I took my little YouTube channel and transformed it into my own valuable summer internship. 

It all started with a video — I mean, that’s what people come for, right? When filming, I had to be mindful of lighting conditions and operating camera settings for the best, most crisp image. I didn’t like to be limited by indoor lighting and time of day, so I decided to purchase studio lights and learned how to create balanced lighting. Even further, production time and technique varied with the kind of video I was creating.

For example, if I was making a chatty, sit-down video, the composition of the shot is fairly simple, and filming is pretty quick. If I was making a “night routine” video or a vlog that I felt required more visual storytelling, getting the shot required a lot more creativity and planning. This is where I had the opportunity to learn basic scene composition concepts like the rule of thirds, centered composition and symmetry, foreground interest and depth, leading lines and frame-within-a-frame.

Editing was the next project on the Adrianna YouTube Internship Program. I had these videos, now how was I supposed to put them together? My next step was to learn about a cloud — an expensive cloud – called Adobe Creative Cloud.

I learned how to use Premiere Pro to edit my videos, Lightroom to edit thumbnails and Illustrator to make cute graphics and typography to overlay the footage. I wanted to create content that I would enjoy watching, and I knew that by learning the functions of Adobe Creative Cloud, I could have all the freedom in the world to create whatever my heart desired.

Even after listening to myself speak for hours and watching the same clips over and over during editing, the job still wasn’t done. YouTube is flooded with content fighting for the chance to be clicked on by the overwhelmed scroller.

I needed to create a thumbnail that had the perfect balance of design and copy that communicates the right message without being too much. Depending on the day, I would create my thumbnails using Canva, Photoshop or InDesign, and I made each one consistent with my personal brand and intriguing to the potential viewer.

At first I was content with just the creative process on YouTube. Making videos was and still is one of my favorite ways to let the creative juices flow. However, once I started posting regularly and compared my video performances to that of others, I couldn’t help but wonder what more I could do with YouTube’s features. I quickly realized that YouTube isn’t just for the creative — it’s for the strategic.

YouTube analytics give creators the data to track their video performance, audience, reach, optimum posting times and engagement. From testing out different strategies and applying the analytics gathered from my videos, I learned how to increase exposure, maximize my videos’ SEO, increase discovery and traffic to my channel, aid lead generation and how to target specific audiences. 

Just as with any other social media platform, the power is in the copywriting for YouTube. The way I word video titles and descriptions play a huge part in how videos perform.

I also research my target audience through similar creators to find attention-grabbing strategies. Testing different strategies with my analytics, audience and content became a little game for me, and regardless of the outcome, I always learned of something I could improve on. 

From June to September alone, my YouTube channel has gained 2,000 more subscribers, 169,000 views and 1.1 million minutes in watch time. My little corner of the Internet is still growing, and there’s plenty left to learn. In just a few short months, I learned more about creativity and strategy than I ever believed was possible without a traditional internship, and after a while, I even started to get paid for placing ads in my videos. 

The takeaway from my experience? Even when it seems like no one wants to give you a chance, you have to take the road less traveled and create an opportunity to help make your dreams come true.