By REGINA GONZALEZ
On an unusually humid Monday in early August, I stepped over the “watch the gap” sign onto the Long Island Railroad train en route to Penn Station from my hometown of Island Park, New York. I had always been grateful for the location I grew up in; living five minutes away from the beach and a 45 minute train ride away from the concrete jungle that is New York City.
The area on Long Island I live in is suburban; it’s on the water— the perfect little beach town when you think of a summer in New York. However, senior communication major Chris Grisby and I were able to get a taste of the “city life” from the summer internships we landed in New York.
While I was lucky to grow up a train ride away from perhaps the greatest city in the world, Grisby was born and raised thinking “everything was bigger in Texas,” living outside of Dallas in Rowell. Grisby quickly learned the difference between the two cities after living in Manhattan this summer for an internship with NBC News.
After a summer of texting back and forth, we were finally meeting up in the city to chat about our experiences with our internships. As I hopped off the train and walked towards Grisby in the heart of Herald Square, I immediately noticed that I wasn’t looking at just a Texas born college student anymore; I was looking at a NY commuting resident with his backpack on and his metro card in hand.
Being sick of New York Pizza and halal food trucks, he decided to show me a little Texas in the big city. We ventured on the subway through midtown and sat down at Brother Jimmy’s BBQ for all you can eat wings and rib tips, and with sticky fingers, laughed and reflected on both of our incredible experiences.
For both Chris and myself, being a journalist is not just something that was decided overnight. In fact, I learned that Grisby had been an aspiring journalist and didn’t even know it when he was “anchoring” his own show at just eight years old.
“Being a journalist just kind of fell into my lap. When I got my first camera, a friend of mine and I created a kid’s version of ESPN and posted it to youtube,” Grisby said. “Then, in high school, I joined my school’s TV station and instantly reconnected to those times, realizing that I liked talking to other people and exploring, so journalism was the way to go.”
Now an aspiring broadcaster, Grisby decided to become a part of something called the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ); a nationwide organization where African American journalists can learn from and mentor each other and ultimately create more diverse news environments.
It’s almost a nationwide business frat but for black journalists to network between peers students and journalist mentors that are already in the field,” Grisby said. “Al Roker, Tamron Hall are some major names apart of it, and through this organizationI was able to apply for a fellowship with NBC, and through that fellowship I was able to land an internship with them.”
Coming to New York to work for NBC this summer was more than just packing a suitcase for Grisby as he also had to find an apartment to live in with the money that NBC gave him for rent and housing expenses. His best option was a three-bedroom apartment in Staten Island shared with two other college students pursuing internships in Manhattan. Then came the journey that is commuting, and after listening to him tell me that he woke up at 4:30 am to walk to the ferry, take a half-hour ferry ride to then get on the subway and be at the studio for the TODAY Show by 6 a.m., I couldn’t even believe he had the energy to sit in front of me.
However, the hands on experience and knowledge he was able to gain seemed well worth it. A smile grew across his face while he explained his duties on a typical day at the studio.
“I worked at the breaking news desk and basically my role is to gather information on any news that’s going on in the domestic US and filter out that news,” Grisby said. “We have to decide what’s going to hit the national headlines then start making phone calls or talking to police and searching through or asking questions on social media.”
Grisby also got to travel to get info, too. For example, when news that Yankees designated hitter Alex Rodriguez was going to retire leaked to the public, Grisby immediately hopped on a train to Yankee Stadium to get feedback and thoughts from fans.
Aside from the benefits of being in a newsroom surrounded by so many big names such as Matt Lauer and Al Roker, gathering information on national news wasn’t the only hands on experience Grisby was able to do. For a week in August, Grisby took the week off of living large in Manhattan to head to Washington D.C. for the NABJ National Conference. There, he was part of something called the “student project.” For the week, he covered the conference with a daily newscast, daily newspaper, and on the digital platform and transformed one of the conference rooms of the hotel into a working and active newsroom.
“It gave me an awesome experience on getting a hands on feel of being in the newsroom,” Grisby said. While there, Grisby was able to interview The Birth of a Nation writer, director, and leading actor Nate Parker about his experiences in creating the movie and how he wants it to impact his audience.“The interview was intended to be for NABJ NAHJ student projects group but due to the content gathered from Parker, NBC picked it up and published my interview which was incredible,” Grisby said.
As a journalism student myself, I sat there so intrigued and mesmerized at his stories the entire time. For someone so young to be able to have a published interview posted by NBC and get that kind of experience while networking and gaining so much knowledge was the perfect example of how a student should utilize their opportunities when landing such a great internship.
“When I landed this, I was so excited because New York is where it’s at. FOX, NBC and any major news organization were the highest positions you could get, and all I can say to anyone lucky enough to have such a great opportunity at their hands is make use of your time,” Grisby said. “If you don’t put all your heart into your work, it’s going be like any internship whether you’re in New York or Alaska. But if you socialize and learn and network, big names will notice and they’re going to give you their email or business card and pick up on traits. Everyone can get an internship but it’s how you go above and beyond to show you want to get better from it.”
When it came to talking about my summer, I didn’t even know where to begin. Working full time for a minor league baseball team definitely was a different environment than working in a newsroom like Chris, but the knowledge I gained from my experience is definitely incomparable to anything I have ever done.With a father that has worked in the NFL and being born and raised a Yankees fan, sports have always been something very close to my heart, and pursuing a career as a broadcaster or sports journalist has been a goal of mine since high school. Coming to UT gave me a great head start in hopes to making that happen.
With a father that has worked in the NFL and being born and raised a Yankees fan, sports have always been something very close to my heart, and pursuing a career as a broadcaster or sports journalist has been a goal of mine since high school. Coming to UT gave me a great head start in hopes of making that happen, and is the whole reason I was able to call MCU Park, home of the Brooklyn Cyclones my home away from home this summer.
In November of 2015, the sports management department at UT decided to gather up as many students majoring or minoring in the field and take a trip to Nashville for the 2015 Baseball Winter Meetings. Basically, the Winter Meetings host a job fair in a giant convention center, where so much is going on. Besides Major League teams trading players, major networks like ESPN, YES Network, MLB Network, etc., were there covering the event, and there is also a job fair for those seeking to work for teams all across the nation.
So, when I took a flight to Nashville with 150 resumes in my briefcase, dressed everyday in pant suits and networking as much as I could, never did I expect to land such an amazing opportunity right back home in New York.
When I first started the position in June, it was all about the prep work for the upcoming season. Right away, I realized that I wasn’t just a fan sitting in the stands anymore, now I was thrown into the world of baseball as a business and every little detail of how a team runs behind the scenes.
The first order of business in the media department was putting together the 2016 media guide. My boss and director of communications for the Cyclones, Billy Harner, had compiled most of it, and as soon as I picked it up I realized you must have the patience of a saint to work in baseball, because the media guide was broken into six sections of stats and information about the team’s history, current records, roster, etc., all in size 9 font. Myself and the two other media relations interns had to read through all 100 pages of it to edit, compile stats and then compile the roster.
Since we are a short-season A team, when the 2016 MLB Draft came around, almost all of the Mets’ picks were going to be playing for us if they signed along with the other players brought up from the rookie ball team that had already been playing in the organization. When we covered the draft, as each new guy was picked we would do research on them to compile stats, career highs, personal information and write a quick player bio for the section of the guide.
After that was done and the guide was sent to be printed, it was about them coming to the park and media day. I had never realized the time and effort it takes to publicize the team and have them on all media aspects of the Cyclones. When the players first arrived on media day, I was running around like a mad woman. I was responsible for getting their info, taking them to get their headshots and team photos and having them fill out fun fact sheets for the website. I took that information and updated a roster to their website and before you know it, the season was a few days away.
Throughout the season had an array of different things to do in my position and was happy with the way my boss let me use my own creativity in my work. Usually during games, I would sit in the press box and write the game recap that was then posted to the website about 20 minutes after it ended. I was also sometimes taking my own photos of the game on my canon, whether it was of the players or of fans in the stands on our promotional nights, and posting them to the Brooklyn Cyclones social media accounts. It was funny how our boss really trusted the fact that his interns were young and educated about snapchat and twitter, and would let us take the reigns on posting cool snap stories or artsy shots (yes, you bet I had the players get on snapchat and use the puppy dog filter). Social media was significant in the sense that we wanted to take fans “behind the scenes” of games to give them a relatable feel to this young players, so we would post from the dugout or the players doing social events so fans could always keep up with the Cyclones.
When it came to reporting, I was given a lot of free range too. Every other week or so I was interviewing players and coaches for feature stories and player profiles that were content in each edition of the game day programs handed out to fans. Broadcasting wise, my boss and the video producers let me film live interviews with top draft picks for their YouTube segment “Cyclones Insider.” Some episodes would be for fans to get to know some of the guys and I would ask them fun questions about their favorite hobbies and what they do on off days. Some even showed me their hidden talents, like when first rounder Justin Dunn tried teaching me how to juggle. As the season went on, I started to veer away from those kind of interviews and started to talk more to the guys about their playing this season and even got to interview one the Cyclones shortstop before he went off to play in the New York Penn League All-Star Game.
I will forever be thankful for the immense amount of knowledge and exposure I gained from working with the Cyclones. Everyday during this internship I learned something new. I was blessed to bein an environment where so many big names were working or passing through. From Jose Reyes playing with us for three days on rehab assignment to Joe Torre and Donnie Wahlburg dropping by for guest appearances on games dedicated to their charities, and shows to former Met Edgardo Alfonzo being the bench coach for the team, it was an honor to be able to talk to them or snap photos while working there.
Reflecting on Chris’ advice, I second that utilizing your resources and exposure when landing an internship is crucial in being able to take the next step of your journey.I was lucky to be surrounded by different media outlets all the time and took advantage of getting tips and insight from the representatives and reporters, even the camera guys.
Another huge piece of advice I learned hands on was making the staff your family. The front office employees at the Cyclones are some of the hardest working peopleI have ever met and are the reason that team has the reputation and popularity that they do. I’m so happy that a majority of the other interns and my coworkers became friends for life. When you meet people that have your back and offer contacts and support to help you continue your journey in what you want to do, never lose touch with them. The players themselves also reminded me more of why I love what I do, because every single one of them has a reason for being in the Mets organization and puts in 110% effort every single day in hopes of making the major league roster, their passion and love for the game is inspiring.
Chris and I had a great conversation. It was great to catch up and learn about the different environments working with journalism can consist of and how two UT students were able to make the most of our opportunities so far in Tampa and qualify for even bigger ones in New York. With great resume builders and knowledge gained, I am curious and excited to see where we end up next.
Regina Gonzalez can be reached at Regina.Gonzalez@theminaretonline.com