In a world heavily saturated with media of all formats, many college students aspire to be contributors in one way or another. For third-year student Emily Horn, she was able to turn this aspiration into a reality as an intern for NBC29 this past summer. Recently, I had the privilege to sit down with Emily, discussing her experiences working at the heart of CVille’s news broadcasting scene, and getting a behind-the-scenes pass to the inner workings of one of the most influential players in the local news industry.
In our chat, Horn was able to give me words of wisdom for other hopeful journalists and college students on the hunt for an internship, as well as personal anecdotes detailing her time spent at the epicenter of the bustling newsroom of NBC29. Join us as we drive in deeper into Emily’s time spent as a journalist a few months ago.
Horn is a third-year student, originally from Charleston, SC, and is pursuing a degree in Media Studies and Politics. Along with her academic interests in Media Studies. When asked about how her academic experiences at UVA helped her in her internship, Horn reflected on her work done in the media studies and politics department. “A lot of classes that I have taken in both politics and media studies revolve around the history of journalism in the United States.” She cited a particular research class in the politics department about John F. Kennedy that aligned well with a media studies course she took in tandem about media in the Kennedy era. “A lot of the work that I do in those classes translates well into my internship because it involves being very analytical, doing research, and seeking out answers. While the work I did in my internship wasn’t seeking out answers through documents, it was seeking out answers through people and looking for stories.” Cumulatively, these courses helped Horn to realize her passion for seeking out answers through politics and history, which she was able to apply to her work done at NBC29.
Outside of the classroom, Horn is a senior writer on The Cavalier Daily and has done work at the Center for Politics. Although her journalistic inclination can be accredited to The Cavalier Daily, I was curious as to how her work in the Center for Politics might have complimented her work in her internship. In Horn’s reply she said: “My research at the center of politics involves looking into nitty gritty details, writing things down, and analyzing documents. Even though it is an entirely different sector from what I was doing at NBC29, it gave me the analytical skills needed to look for stories and information.”
Although Horn seemed to have a plethora of skills that rendered well in her internship work, she made a point to let me know of some areas in which she had to embrace her love for learning and develop new skills to accommodate the demands of the internship. Despite seeming to be more prepared than not to handle what the job entailed, Horn admitted, “The pace of work is not something I could have predicted until I was there,” posing an obstacle for her to overcome. This pace in addition to having to take on the full on role of a reporter, she noted, was not something she could have fully understood and tackled until she was thrown into the waters of being a real journalist at NBC29. With the help and advice from her more experienced co-workers and a boss that treated her equally and fairly, Horn was able to figure it out as she went stated that learning quickly was “a valuable skill to learn,” and was able to eventually “stand on [her] own two feet and take advantage of the experience.”
Regarding what the process of getting this internship was like, Horn gave details about her experience and provided advice to others who may be looking for an internship similar to hers. The process she detailed was actually more simple than I expected; “I just ended up going out of my way and applying. After applying, I did an interview, and a little after that I heard back!” Before submitting her actual application through an online portal system, Horn made sure to go out of her way to demonstrate her interest in the opportunity. “I did email the director of NBC29 just to tell him I was interested.” In addition, Horn also utilized the UVA alumni network to shoot an email to a former UVA student working at the station to put her name into the running for this position. When asked about any advice she had for students, she answered quickly. “Don’t be afraid to apply. I didn’t have any broadcasting experience before this internship, and by just putting yourself out there and saying you are willing to take on these skills and learn something new, it will help the process.”
Horn then proceeded to let me vicariously experience a day as a reporter as she filled me in on what a typical day on the job looked like for her. “My typical day looked like me coming into work at nine. I liked to get in a bit early to catch up on emails, get my story pitches in line, etc.” After getting a running start bright and early, Horn detailed what the rest of her morning would look like. “We would then have a morning meeting to discuss our story ideas. We then would have to ultimately schedule when we would interview people, write the script around ten or eleven, get it approved, and then record stand-ups and get b-roll.” Around 1pm she would come back to the newsroom and put everything together for her segment that night. In doing this, Horn had to get accustomed to utilizing the unfamiliar software that NBC29 used- yet another skill she learned as a reporter. “After all that, I would wait for [my story] to be approved, and then my segment would air around 5, 6, or 7.”
Even though the day already seemed to be filled to the brim with the work needed to get a story up on its feet, it didn’t stop once Horn returned home around 5pm. “When I got home, I would typically think about which stories I wanted to pitch in the future.” This was all in an effort to plan her stories out as early as possible, but that goal required her to put in additional hours at home and being “constantly aware of what was happening in Charlottesville” via internet searches and local connections she has developed over the years.
Horn was upfront about not being sure if broadcast journalism was the path for her in spite of her experience at NBC29. “I really do love journalism, and it is definitely something I will do in my free time while I’m here at the university,” Horn remarked. “However, after graduation, I want to take two gap years and eventually go to law school.” Continuing, she said, “I have always known that law school would be part of my path,” sharing that she has grown up around the law with her dad working as an attorney. Even though she doesn’t see this being the right career path for her at the moment, Horn relayed how her internship experience was still useful to pursuing a different path. “After my internship, the parts that I loved about the job translate well into a career in law,” she stated detailing how empowering others and communicating were passions that she found the two professions catered to well.
To wrap up our time together, I asked Emily to give me any tips for young women who might consider pursuing a similar occupation, or even just taking their first steps on their career path. “Go try things! Explore, and put yourself out there,” Horn responded enthusiastically. In her experience trying broadcast journalism she was able to apply skills she had developed elsewhere as well as learn new skills she hopes to apply in her future career as well.
In short, we hope that Emily Horn’s experiences in the NBC29 newsroom inspire students who hope for a future in journalism to take the leap of faith and try new things, just as Emily did. In going out of our comfort zones and trying something new, we can learn and even find a new passion along the way. There is no one right path to success, so go ahead; take the risk, and there will likely be reward.