Step Back to Reality

Sometimes I see a movie trailer and I get really excited for a movie.  My expectations are set so unrealistically high that no matter how good the movie is, it falls short and I walk away wondering why I went to see it in the first place.  That’s kind of how today was.

Three months ago, I was blessed with the opportunity to intern at WTHR Channel 13 in Indianapolis. It was the first and only station I heard back from after applying, and I was exponentially excited that I landed an amazing internship for the summer.  I could barely drive home I was so excited for what was to come, and I anticipated all the opportunities I would have to learn this summer.

After May term and NAIA track nationals ended, I spent a week at home with my family.  It’s the first full week we’ve been together as the 5 of us since Christmas.  It’s tough because now that my sister, brother, and I are grown up, we’re all going separate ways, and having time together as a whole family is rare and more special than ever.  That last week at home was wonderful and relaxing, but also started to make me regret taking an internship so far from home.  I have no summer vacation, and the people who love and care about me most are 270 miles (or 5 hours) away.

So … now that you are anticipating what my day held, I’ll start the saga that was my first day as an intern.  I had a hard time sleeping (because I was anxious) and had absolutely no trouble waking up at the early hour of 6:45.  I got ready, packed my lunch, had some breakfast, and was out the door by 7:48. I started my easy commute downtown … did NOT get lost or get in an accident, so I’d call this morning a success. The whole way my mind was at war with itself.  The practical/logical/planning side knew that according to my calendar I was supposed to be driving to WTHR, and starting my internship, and everything was normal and going smoothly.  The emotional/irrational side (that always complicates things) decided none of this made sense, I had no idea why I wanted to work in news anymore, I felt totally unprepared and unqualified, and I didn’t know why I had to even do an internship … I only just wanted to be a mom (not really, but at 8:00am … my mind was in no state to be making important life decisions).

I made it plenty early. I got to the station about 10-15 minutes before I was supposed to, and since my stomach was turning and my hands were shaking …. I took a moment and prayed for strength, confidence, boldness, and peace. That took up all my early time, and I walked inside, head held high ready and confident to start my first day. I sat in on the morning meeting, but since it was my first day, I didn’t get paired up with a reporter, photog, or producer because I still had to take care of some orders of business.

Learning the ENPS program they use for scripts in the newsroom

I spent about an hour and a half this morning watching a tutorial video on how the script writing program works.  It’s called ENPS and includes all the rundowns, scripts, wire stories, etc. that everyone in the newsroom uses when putting together the show. It was a lengthy, VERY inclusive tutorial … and while I tried to take notes, I really have a hard time learning anything without being able to push buttons and do it myself. So after a while, my attention span waned, but I know the basics, and it’s a fairly simple program to use, so if I ever get a chance to I think I’ll pick it up pretty quickly.

By the time I was done with that, it was time for the noon newscast.  This was the one part of the day where I felt useful! I sat in the control room and watched, observing all the different facets.  That’s not really new to me, I’ve had the opportunity to observe a control room on a few other occasions, but it’s always good to get the feel for how different stations work.  So anyway, I’m sitting in the seat that’s always vacant in front of the printer (I don’t really know who is supposed to sit there, but apparently no one ever does … so I decided it’s going to be my chair).  This chair is in the middle row along with the graphics person.  The producer, director, and technical director sit a row ahead, and the audio tech sits in the row behind.  Halfway through the show, the producer makes some script changes, and needs to print out new scripts and get hard copies out to the anchor in the studio. So she looks at me (I’m sitting right in front of where she is now standing) and asks, “Do you mind running these scripts out?” In my head I’m thinking, “Thank goodness! I can do something and this is definitely a job I can handle!” So of course I say sure, and after getting directions to the studio (it’s my first day, give me a break) I efficiently delivered the scripts during the commercial break.

The next 5 hours were not quite as interesting. You may be thinking … walking a piece of paper from one room to another isn’t all that exciting. You’d be right. So for me to say the next 5 hours were less interesting … that says a lot.

The rest of the day involved some meetings, getting my security ID, and studying the names and pictures of the people who work in the newsroom. Fascinating stuff. I spent a couple hours feeling lost and helpless, unsure of where to go or who to ask for help.  By the time all my “first day” stuff was taken care of, tasks had been assigned and everyone was crazy busy working on stuff. I didn’t want to bother anyone at that point because it seemed too late.

So I ended the day feeling overwhelmed, confused, lost, and unsure. Pretty much exactly how I started it.  For the past 3 months, family, friends, colleagues, and professors have been telling me what a great experience I’m going to have. They would tell me, “you’re going to have so much fun.” “You’ll learn a lot.” “I’m so excited for you, you’ll have to tell me all about it.” They’ve been more excited that I have been lately. The expectation that I had for so many months, wasn’t met. Somehow I thought my first day would be magical, and everything would fall into place easily. There was nothing magical about today.  I couldn’t find the bathroom. I had no where to sit half the time. I didn’t know anyone’s name. I didn’t have a clue where I was supposed to be when.

It’s just the first day. It’ll get better … right?


3 thoughts on “Step Back to Reality

  1. Chelsey says:

    That is EXACTLY how my first day at WTHR was. I promise, the first is the WORST. I think our country’s interrogation tactics would be much more effective if terror suspects were forced to watch those ENPS videos all day.

    By the end of my summer, I’d written multiple VOs and VOSOTs for producers, helped booth a show, accompanied every reporter and photog on an assignment, and created my own resume tape of packages I wrote and edited myself. I promise, it will get more interesting!

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