Name: Leslie Ovalle '18
Where did you intern: I interned at the National Public Radio (NPR) headquarters in Washington, D.C., on their flagship news program, All Things Considered.
What did you do there?
I worked on the news magazine show, All Things Considered. It's a national daily show, so every day we started from scratch to produce a two-hour live radio show. This meant staying up-to-date on the world's current events and thinking critically about new ways to cover the news that moves the conversation forward and serves our audience. Every day, we started with a pitch meeting to hash out the news and how we will be covering it. I would come in with actionable ideas, pre-interview and book the guests, write the scripts and produce the final audio for the day's show. Occasionally, I would also go out to record live tape syncs with lawmakers or experts for the show.
How did you get your internship?
I already had some newsroom experience from other internships I had completed during my time at FIU as a student. I interned for the Sun-Sentinel, WLRN and freelanced for the Miami Herald. My internship experience at WLRN really prepared me to be able to compete with the other students who applied to intern at NPR.
What projects did you work on?
Besides working on daily news stories, I also helped pitch and research long-term projects with the hosts. I was involved in the program's All Tech Considered weekly segments. These are the stories that don't necessarily have to align with the daily news, but tell us something about how technology is influencing our society. We worked on various technology themes like artificial intelligence, ethics, social media, whistleblowers, 5G ceullular network technology and more.
What was the coolest thing that happened during your internship?
Tiny Desk Concerts were definitely one of the coolest things at NPR. My first one was with Sting and Shaggy. My last one was Lizzo! So, enough said!
What did you like most about your experience?
I liked seeing how my skills evolved during my time as an intern and afterwards. I would look back at my earlier work and see the mistakes I missed that I can now see very clearly. I also enjoyed working with people who have so much knowledge and experience. I took advantage of that by asking questions and being observant of how they work.
What did you learn about yourself?
I learned my strengths and weaknesses, which helped me realize which areas of my workflow I should be putting more effort into. I learned more about what I like and don't like, which gave me a better idea of what I want to do next and what I want to work towards in my career. I also learned the value of my work, to take pride in what I do and to not be shy to ask for what I deserve based on what I bring to the table.
How did you expand your professional network?
I worked alongside amazing people. I really stood on the shoulders of giants. I talked to my colleagues and supervisors, asking them for feedback and advice. I always kept in touch with them (even after my internship). I expressed my interest in staying and got to temp for six months as a production assistant until I found a full-time job.
How did it help you prove yourself in the "real world"?
Internships are great because you are technically in the "real world," but you don't have the responsibilities that come with it. It's a time for you to make mistakes and learn before you go into the "real, real world." My internship at NPR helped me build skills and knowledge that I can take with me to future job opportunities to let them know that I have real, valuable experience.
What advice do you have for those beginning the internship process?
Contact local journalists that you admire, ask to shadow them or invite them to coffee. They were in your shoes once, so you'd be surprised how willing they'll be to help. And if they decline your invitation, just try someone else! Get to know the journalists in your community and let them get to know you. Working for your college newspaper or the South Florida News Service at FIU will help you gain the real-world experience you need to score those bigger internships. Put in the work and be confident. Show the recruiters they would be missing out if they don't hire you.