There is a difference between learning in the classroom and gaining experience in the workplace.
Most schools offer opportunities to not only learn practical skills, but to apply them right on campus at a TV or Radio station, Newspaper or Theater.
Taking the initiative to be involved in more than just going to class isn’t a requirement, it’s there for you to take advantage of.
Some do. Some don’t.
For Metro State University senior Hassan Shah, learning by doing has helped him land a high profile internship at Entertainment Tonight and work at Radio Disney, all while still in college.
“I can’t stress enough how much I learned from my internships and my campus newscast,” explains the Multimedia Journalism major. “I realize now without them I would not be prepared for entertainment jobs with classroom knowledge alone.
“You can learn the fundamentals by reading a textbook and listening to a professor, but in broadcasting, or really in preparation for any entertainment jobs, you learn more through hands-on experience, because you are taking concepts you learn in class and applying it to the real world.”
How did Shah land such a high profile internship at Entertainment Tonight? Read on to discover that answer and more.
Getting an internship with Entertainment Tonight sounds like a dream opportunity – let’s start at the beginning, this role had to be competitive, how did you get it?
Shah: Yes, this role was very competitive, but did not realize that until I arrived on my first day.
It started from a basic search for summer internships out in Los Angeles. I knew that I wanted to get experience working in the entertainment industry so I devoted much of my time looking into several internship opportunities out there.
I worked to polish my demo reel that featured all of my news reporting work from the FOX internship and my school’s TV newscast. I worked every day to polish my resume and cover letter and had a professor evaluate my materials and give me feedback. I made it a priority to show my passion and work ethic in all of my materials.
After applying to internships at various networks, I ended up getting a call from Entertainment Tonight!
My interview took place on the phone and it was mentioned that the Executive Producer enjoyed my demo reel and materials. They asked why I wanted to intern and also asked me basic interview questions, which I believe I answered calmly and confidently.
After the phone conversation, it was about two weeks until they offered me the internship for summer 2013.
Once I was there, I realized how competitive it was to get in. They recruited about ten interns and most of them were students studying at L.A. universities, I was one of the few from another state.
Out of all the internships out there what was it about this opportunity that stood out to you?
Shah: The title of the show and the location stood out to me. I wanted to get out to L.A. and work in the business since I was very young, and I know there are endless opportunities for what I want to do.
The fact that this show has a big name and reputation also stood out. I wanted my next internship experience to be a chance for me to network with some of the biggest people in the industry and learn how to report and produce entertainment news from the experts.
I thought, “What better way to learn what entertainment jobs are really like than to go to the entertainment capital of the word myself?”
Once you got settled in, what did you find out were the key expectations for your role?
Shah: I discovered, I was mostly there to observe and not engage too much with hands-on duties. My main role was to help wherever it was needed.
In short, I had the role of the transcriber and tape filer. I transcribed for a week straight. After getting to know the atmosphere and the culture of the station, I realized, my internship experience was completely in my hands.
I was only going to get out what I was going to put in.
I then took the initiative to introduce myself to every crew member and producer when it was appropriate, and offered to help with any project. I also talked to many people and did some research on different departments and mapped out which ones I wanted to shadow.
I kept myself busy and made sure I had no down time, I soon started to take on roles as a production assistant and helped with field shoots, update content on the ETONLINE website, and constructing interview questions for the producers.
What have been your main accomplishments on this internship and any other internships you have completed?
Shah: I believe the three main accomplishment at my Entertainment Tonight internship were:
- I networked with many great and talent people in the industry
- I learned so much from every department I shadowed and obtained immense knowledge
- ET allowed me to record a demo reel, one of my story ideas made it on the show and a lot of my interview questions were asked by talent during interviews.
You are currently pursuing a multimedia journalism degree at Metro State University. You’ve been very involved in what Metro State has to offer in both television production and radio – do you feel that Metro State has helped teach you things that prepared you for these high profile internships?
Shah: I got the foundation of my experience from Metro State.
I was fully involved with my campus newscast called, ‘The Met Report.’ It is a weekly student-run newscast that features stories happening all over Denver and beyond. The experience has helped me get the best hands-on knowledge and taught me how to be my own producer, writer, editor, reporter and on-camera host.
I’ve learned to research and pitch different story ideas and produce it weekly. I also engaged in radio work with ‘KMET Radio’ in the same office and produced and hosted my own entertainment-based radio show called, “The Weekly Lunch Box.” I voiced my own spots and made my own commercials for my show through creative imaging.
After about a year, I was promoted to an Entertainment Producer and Cross Promotions Director. I was then able to engage in strategic planning for entertainment content across all entities in Student Media (TV, radio, newspaper and magazine), coordinate news and entertainment content weekly on ‘The Met Report’ and recruit and train student videographers, bloggers and hosts.
Student Media really helped me be the best broadcast journalist and made me aware of certain obstacles common in the industry.
While in school you have also worked for Radio Disney – can you explain your role with them and how you were able to get this opportunity?
Shah: I was helping to coordinate auditions for my campus TV newscast and after one girl auditioned, she mentioned she worked for Radio Disney. That immediately caught my attention and I talked to her after her interview. She then informed me on the application process and I interviewed for the Talent role and got the job.
My job is to act as the on-site personality for Radio Disney in Denver (AM 1690). I host events in various Colorado locations and entertain kids, teens and their families at live, high energy performances through prize giveaways, dancing, activities and games.
My job is to take knowledge of Radio Disney, Disney Channel, XD and Disney Junior and promote it compellingly to a live audience. I also collaborate and represent Radio Disney clients and incorporate on-mic sponsor mentions and promotional announcements.
Describe one of your best days working for Radio Disney – what were you tasked with doing and how did the day unfold?
Shah: I really enjoyed working at one of the events where Leo Howard made a guest appearance at the ‘Punkin Chunkin’ event in Aurora, Colorado. Leo stars as “Jack” in Disney XD’s Kickin’ It.
I was asked to host the event as normal, talk about the latest songs on Radio Disney’s Top 30 Countdown, coordinate and host various contests and games, and when Leo was on-site, I interviewed him in front a big audience.
I asked him various questions about his early life and his time on Disney XD, I also had some fun with him and had him show me and everyone his BEST karate moves!
Now that you have completed an internship at Entertainment Tonight, worked for Radio Disney and immersed yourself in student media at Metro State – do you feel like these experiences have helped you in your pursuit of entertainment jobs?
Shah: I have always known what I have wanted to do; my experiences in all of these media organizations have just made me a better broadcast journalist and helped me realize all the things I CAN do
I came into college determined to only be the face on the camera, while my goal is still to be an entertainment reporter and host, I also discovered I like to write and produce.
I have a goal, but I am not afraid of step into different roles. My work experience during college has made me realize I really want to work in entertainment. This is still the beginning of my long and very hard journey, and while my goal is to make it on-air, I am determined to take ANY opportunity that comes my way, and will not be picky on the job I get.