Here's the scenario...you've just started your internship and you get on the elevator.
There's already one other passenger...an older gentleman carrying a file folder. He smiles and says hello to you. You briefly acknowledge him. He asks how things are going. You answer with one word "Fine" and go back to texting your friend about what you're doing that day at the station. The elevator stops and you get off, not saying anything more to your former riding companion.
Later, you're invited to a station-wide meeting led by the General Manager...and low-and-behold...there he is. The man from the elevator is the GM!
Talk about a missed opportunity. You had a chance to talk to the General Manager! In fact he had even opened the door for you to do so. Yikes!
This is why it is so important to figure out who is who at your internship.
You're the new kid on the block and have been dropped off into the middle of the organized chaos that is a radio or television station. Everyone there knows their job and is busy going about it. And it's really hard to tell what someone does by just looking at them. That's why you need to do your research.
There are lots of ways to find out who's who at your internship. One of the easiest ways is to go to the company's website and look at the staff pictures and bios. Not only will you get a chance to start connecting faces with names and jobs, but what's in those bios might really surprise you. Most of us in this industry do a lot of freelance work or have an interesting history of stations on our resumes. You might find something that you can use to strike up a conversation with someone that you really want to meet.
Another way to get to meet people is - when you see they are not actively engaged in doing something - simply go up and introduce yourself. It takes a little courage, but it's worth it. SImply say something like, "Hi, I'm so-and-so and I just started interning here. I just making the rounds and trying to meet everyone here. If it's ok, I'd like to sit in with you at some point and learn more about what you do." You'll be surprised by the positive reaction you get from most people.
Finally, don't miss an opportunity. Let's go back to the elevator scenario. When the older gentleman with the file folder asked you how things were going, instead of just "Fine", you could have said something like, "Fine, thanks for asking. I'm so-and-so and I just started interning here. I haven't had a chance to meet you yet." Who knows where the conversation could have gone from there, but one thing is sure. You would have made an impression of being someone who is confident, courteous and curious and all of those are qualities that we look for not only in interns but also in employees.
Remember, you never get a second chance to make a good first impression and there's no guarantee that opportunities will present themselves for a second time. Stay on your toes, stay involved and good things will happen for you!
Next month: Selecting the Right Internship vs. Bragging Rights.
Tammy Trujillo is both an entertainer and an educator. She began in the entertainment field as a child and since graduating from Cal State Fullerton, has continuously worked in the Los Angeles market as a News Anchor, Reporter, Sportscaster and Commercial Voice-Over Artist. Combining her real-world experience with a hands-on approach to learning, Tammy has also taught broadcasting for the past 25 years at many of Southern California's most prestigious private schools and colleges. She is currently the lead Professor of Broadcasting at Mt. San Antonio College, as well as Director of its two award-winning campus radio stations. Throughout her career, she has received numerous honors for her work both on the air and behind-the-scenes, including several Golden Mike Awards from the Radio Television News Association. Tammy is a member of SAG-AFTRA, a former Board member of the Associated Press Television Radio Association, a Hall of Fame member at Long Beach City College, and a member of Pacific Pioneer Broadcasters.