Monday, March 25, 2013

Advice from an Intern Hiring Manager on How to Have a Successful Internship

Why is an internship so important?  It gives you much-needed experience in the career field you want to enter.  Or perhaps it's an eye-opener to help you realize that the field in which you thought you wanted to spend the rest of your life working isn't right for you.  It also gives you hands-on experience that can help you land that first job and begin that job a step ahead of those who lollygag during their internship. 

CBS11 Sports Producer Chris Bullock

Now, let's find out what the individuals approving, hiring and reviewing interns look for in a quality candidate.  Meet CBS11/TXA21 sports producer Chris Bullock.  We began working together at WFAA-TV in the early 2000's.  He has been hiring interns since the 90's when he worked at KXAS-TV.  He knows all about parlaying an internship into a long-term career. 

Here's a hint: it's not all about the glory of interviewing superstar athletes.  The interns that win do the work and ultimately get rewarded. 

What do you look for in an intern?

Someone that is outgoing … and the desire to learn about this business  … it’s hard to tell in an interview  … because they all say they are ready to do everything I talk to them about … but very few really do ..

What characteristics separate bad interns from good interns?
Good interns take the bull by the horns … they come in and are ready to work …. In their down time they practice editing  … work on learning Inews (a software program for TV news) … do things without having to be told .. ask questions .. but ask them at the right times  … do standups and turn packages for practice and hopefully if they get good enough turn packages that they can use for resume tapes …

Bad interns are just the opposite! .. they sit around and never do things without being told … most will get the job done if you tell them .. but they never use the down time (which there is a lot of) to get better at editing .. learn Inews  … they sit around on the computer .. watch TV  .. and in the end get nothing out of the internship ..

Can you tell when an intern begins his/her internship how she or he will do?
Yes … I can tell in the first two weeks at the most … you can teach kids the business .. but you can’t teach them the desire to learn … or the go get em attitude that they MUST have to succeed not only in the internship .. but this business  …. 
Is there a story of an interning succeeding that you would like to share?
Or Moyal … his senior year Spring Break … asked me if he was expected to work?  .. and if it was a busy week … He cancelled plans to go to the beach with his girlfriend  … and worked everyday that week when we had Rangers Spring Training pre game shows  … that showed me a lot!  … and he parlayed that into me recommending him for a job a few months later at channel 8  .. which he has been the weekend producer there now for almost two years …

Is there a story of an interning failing to meet expectations you would like to share?
Too many to share … unfortunately more than half of the interns that we have don’t get much out of the internship …

Has the frequency with which an interns impress you increased, decreased or remained the same?

I would have to say if anything as a whole they are less impressive  … maybe one out of 10 actually get packages (stories) together for a resume tape … and one out of 25 take advantage of doing any studio time  ..

What, in your opinion, is a successful internship?

Someone that leaves the internship with full knowledge of how a sports department runs … from editing, producing, anchoring, etc … and has a resume reel put together with packages, standups, and a taped sportscast on the CBS/TXA desk .. that they can send to TV stations in their job search ..

Anything else you would like to share?
I have been hiring interns since 1999 at channel 5 .. and I tell everyone of them when I interview them … “you will get out of this internship .. what you put into it” 

True words.  While all of these are pretty TV news specific, this advice applies to any industry.  

If you have any questions about internships or this series, please email me at


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