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The time Kevin Negandhi stole our lunch

Hi friends,


We often get questions about how to make the most of your internship experience. Affectionately dubbed “the happiest interns in Bristol” by ESPN anchor Steve Levy during the summer of 2015, we tried to do just that, as our 10-week ESPN internship resulted in the opportunity to travel with College GameDay, a full-time job offer, and a lifelong friendship. We want to help you accomplish the same! Check out our step-by-step guide.


MAXIMIZE YOUR TIME

For starters, we spent as much time as possible on campus. Although we had different schedules (Sam worked 9 am-5 pm with espnW, while I was scheduled for 4 pm-1 am most days), we were both on campus for at least 12 hours a day, often coming in early or staying late. Now we’re all about work-life balance at empowHERed, but we both understood that we had a limited amount of time to make a great impression. In fact, one of the reasons we were initially drawn to each other is that we both came into the experience with the desire to take advantage of every moment and we truly loved what we were doing to set ourselves up for our future careers. That extra time allowed us to shadow other departments, schedule informational interviews, or even just grab a meal with other interns (networking with peers is so underrated!).


That said, while 12-hour days may work for a 10-week internship, it’s not sustainable long term and will lead to burnout, something we found out a little later in our careers (more on that in an upcoming blog post).


GET INVOLVED

Second, we looked for ways to get involved beyond our day-to-day roles and responsibilities. For us, that meant participating in a volunteer day in New York, getting to know people in one another’s departments, and, most importantly, entering an intern pitch competition. A voluntary activity, the creative competition challenged individuals or teams to pitch a new business, content, or programming idea to a panel of full-time employees who served as judges. We immediately teamed up with our intern bestie/production wizard, Ken Mashinchi, aka “Kenny Boy Slim”, and began developing a behind-the-scenes show designed to highlight the personalities of some of the network’s top anchors.

Together, we found a small studio buried in the basement of Building 4, began playing around with the camera, and before long Intern Interruption was born. Soon, we were spending every free moment pitching content ideas, planning out episodes, and filming teasers for social media. Our long days stretched even longer, as we worked around three busy schedules.


The only problem? We needed to book guests.


USE YOUR INTERN STATUS TO YOUR ADVANTAGE

In developing our show, we’d thrown out lofty ideas about landing our “dream” guests, but in order to make those dreams a reality we had to make the ask. So we looked up the email addresses of some of our favorite anchors and wrote a quick note. In it, we explained who we were, how we were competing in an intern pitch competition, and the idea that we were hoping to execute. In conclusion, we asked each anchor if he or she could spare 30 minutes of their time to record a brief episode with us. Then, after some nervous deliberation, we pressed send…and waited.


Much to our surprise, nearly every person that we reach out to responded with a resounding yes! Many expressed excitement about the idea and a willingness to help however they could. And that’s how we lined up an absolutely absurd schedule of guests. And that brings us to the title of our blog :)


We were so excited to film with our first guest, Kevin Negandhi. We planned to test his Philly sports knowledge while wagering Chick-Fil-A nuggets.

To prepare, we'd ordered a 30-piece of nuggets, thinking we'd need maybe five for the segment. Sam, Ken, and I planned to split the rest for lunch...that is until Kevin, after filming an incredible episode, thanked us for the time and walked off with the whole bag. Somehow, we didn't mind settling for lunch at the ESPN caf that day. After all, our intro emails had worked and we'd hosted the first of our amazing guests, which included:

  • Randy Scott, who challenged me to an “impression-off”, entertaining the crowd with his Gandolf

  • Sarina Morales, who inhaled helium with Sam just for a fun interview twist

  • Todd Grisham, who engaged in an impromptu dance battle with me

  • Field Yates, Max Bretos, and many more


Over the course of those 10 weeks, we spent hours taping with guests, recording and re-recording episode intros (apologies to Ken, who often had to sit through dozens of takes where we’d devolve into fits of laughter, unable to get through something as basic as saying our names because we were so tired), editing segments, planning social content, and putting together a final pitch presentation. While we ultimately didn’t win, our show caught the attention of a number of espnW executives and led to a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to travel with College GameDay during our senior year of college (more on all of the above in a future blog post!). We also took away some profound lessons that shaped our careers.


Lessons Learned

1) Take advantage of every opportunity during an internship. Look for activities, programs, and events outside of your day-to-day role that allow you to network with other departments and learn about different functional areas. Many times, you’ll find that the area in which you’re currently working isn’t where you see yourself long term. Internships are a perfect opportunity for trial and error and to learn about what you do and don’t want to do in the future.


2) People are always more willing to help interns/young professionals, so don’t be afraid to shoot your shot, send the email, make the connection, and see where it leads! In fact, we’ve created a free resource with email templates that you can use to reach out to people in the industry.


Before you go, don’t forget to download Intro Like a Pro to take advantage of our email templates and start setting up your own informational interviews.


Have a great day and remember, you’re awesome and you belong here!


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