From Rugrat to Intern

This is the next in a series of posts by recipients of the Career Services Summer Funding grant.  We’ve asked funding recipients to reflect on their summer experiences and talk about the industries in which they’ve been spending the summer.  

This blog is by Taylor Blackston, CAS ’15

College is a place for growth. From changing majors to stumbling upon extra-curricular activities, my time at Penn has been full of self-discovery. The university and Career Services specifically, have connected me with many resources that have assisted me during the transition period between adolescence and adulthood. This summer, my internship experience has been an extension of my college career, furthering my understanding of what life will be like after graduation.

Earlier this year, Career Services sent out information regarding the IRTS Multicultural Career Workshop in New York City. As a junior majoring in Communication, I immediately filled out an application for the chance to learn more about the media and entertainment industry. The first day of the workshop, we listened to different types of media professionals on various panels. On the second day, IRTS hosted a career fair with recruiters from companies such as HBO, Scripps Networks, Starcom MediaVest Group and Viacom. Although I was quite nervous, I’m glad I walked up to the Viacom table when I did, because the connection I made with the recruiter led to my summer internship.

Viacom is the parent company of many popular cable networks such as MTV, VH1, BET and Comedy Central. This summer, I was a Viacom intern with the children’s network, Nickelodeon. I was so excited to work for the channel that aired the most memorable programs from my childhood. Not only did the décor on each floor include products and posters of my most beloved cartoon characters, but also one of the exciting benefits of my internship was access to watch any episode of my favorite Nick shows. More important than the perks though, was the insight I gained into how to run a cable television network. At Nickelodeon, I worked under the Media Planning team. The main job of this team is to promote the shows currently airing on the network. They program promotions strategically in order to bring viewers to the shows. Campaigns are important in producing good ratings, an integral part in the livelihood of a television network because ratings are important when selling advertising time.

My responsibilities were not only administrative in nature, as I given several meaningful projects to work on throughout the summer. One project I worked on was competitive tracking, which meant I watched a lot of television for a few days. I watched competing networks and examined how differently the networks promoted their content. This was important because many networks are seeking viewership from the same audience and we want a better understanding of what strategies may take a child away from watching Nick. I was most excited about creating my own personal project. I wanted to produce something useful for my department. I decided to create a handbook with information for future interns. The handbook includes a glossary of industry terms, an explanation of department documents and how to utilize them, and even advice for success from the Media Planning staff members. As the internship program is only 10 weeks long, I hope this guide is helpful in expediting the learning curve and get interns comfortable and involved early on in the program.

My summer at Nickelodeon was extremely valuable for many reasons. The one thing I appreciate most about my experience was how willing people were to help me explore the company. For instance, although I learned a lot from the Media Planning team, I felt early on that I would be more interested in pursuing a fulltime career in a creative department. In knowing that, my supervisor helped me to set up informational interviews with five different departments so I could get an understanding of positions that align better with my personal goals. Many staff members shared similar stories of getting their foot in the door at Viacom, but with patience and research, they ultimately found something better suited for themselves and received the encouragement to pursue their interests.

Although the summer is ending and I still wonder about the next step, I can say that my internship experience at Nickelodeon has made me feel more prepared for life after graduation. However, no matter how much older I get, hopefully I will carry the fun and youthful spirit of the Nickelodeon brand with me every step of the way.

Author: Student Perspective

Views and opinions from current Penn students.