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Olympic interns gain experience working at NBC

John Cameron | Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Growing up cheering for the United States women’s national soccer team, senior Stephanie Aguilera had a dream come true when she contributed to to NBC’s coverage of the gold medal game at the 2012 Summer Olympics.

“I was fortunate enough to attend the women’s soccer championship and saw the U.S. women win gold,” Aguilera said. “Watching Hope Solo and Alex Morgan dominate the game was the highlight of my summer.”

Aguilera was one of a several Notre Dame students who interned with NBC during its coverage of the 2012 London Summer Olympics. Aguilera was stationed in London with NBC Telemundo, which provided Spanish-language broadcasting of the games.

“My position was ‘runner,’ which meant my [daily work] varied,” she said. “I arrived before the production crews to set up the office before the games and I helped interview athletes in the [Olympic] Village and assisted the broadcast manager.”

Also a runner stationed in London, senior Christopher Palmquist was assigned to the daytime production segment. Palmquist’s duties often involved providing hospitality and assistance to athletes, commentators and personalities before and after their time on camera.

Through his role, Palmquist encountered a number of prominent Olympians, including gymnast Gabby Douglas, diver David Boudia, speed skater Apolo Ohno and tennis player Serena Williams. He said the most rewarding interaction, however, came through a conversation with a gold medalist from a less high-profile sport.

“The greatest person I met was Kayla Harrison, who won the first gold medal in judo for the United States,” he said. “She shared her story of overcoming a coach that sexually abused her when she was a teenager. Her story was phenomenal, and nobody, I think, deserved the gold medal more than she.”

Senior Marta Stepien’s experience differed from the runners’. Stepien interned as a production assistant with the NBC Soccer Channel and was stationed at the NBC headquarters in New York City.

“My job was to log the games as they were coming from London and either send them to the live feed everyone at home was seeing, or to assist in editing the games and formatting them into playlists to be aired later in the day,” Stepien said.

Though she did not experience the Games in person, Stepien said building connections with coworkers was a highlight of her experience.

“The best part of the job was spending time with my coworkers, producers and talent who would come into the studio to do the play-by-play and announcing,” she said. “The days and the hours were extremely long, but with the personalities we had in the office, every day was more fun than the last.”

Stepien said working in a broadcast environment was something she might normally not have experienced as a student pursuing a degree in business.

“As a marketing major, I had very little knowledge of the intricate detail that comes with production and editing,” she said. “Though I may not be using those skills explicitly in the near future, simply being in the working world was very insightful.”

As a student majoring in Film, Television and Theatre (FTT), Palmquist said he was immediately drawn to the opportunity when he learned about the NBC intern program.

“I hope to have a career in sports journalism after graduation,” Palmquist said. “When I realized I could no longer play sports [competitively], I decided to pursue a job talking about them. Hopefully this internship will help with that.”

Although Aguilera doesn’t have explicit plans to pursue a media-related career, she said the opportunity perfectly complemented her interests.

“I found out about the internship through my friends,” she said. “They directed me to the Career Center website because it was perfect for my interests in television and sports. I was interested as an FTT major and because I’ve always wanted to go to the Olympics. I knew it would be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

The interns underwent an extensive application process, said LoriAnn Edinborough, program director for the Global Internship Initiative at the Career Center.

“The process began very early,” Edinborough said. “The internships were posted on the GoIrish! system in March of 2011, with interviews being conducted in April of 2011 and decisions being made that July of 2011, so more than a year ahead. It was quite competitive. 70 students applied and 17 were ultimately selected to participate.”

Edinborough said the competitive selection process was fitting for such a special opportunity.

“Working for NBC is certainly a very prestigious name for a resumé, and then to couple that with the Olympics is even more so,” she said. “For those who want to pursue a career in the media industry, being able to spend this time entrenched in the work … gave them a unique insight into being able to learn and develop skills that you just can’t experience in a classroom.”


Contact John Cameron at [email protected]