An internship taught me to believe in myself

  • May 1, 2017

By Shamecha Lywood

What can I say? Working at VICE has been a great experience! And although it didn’t end the way I wanted it to, with a job offer, working there served a greater purpose:

It made me believe in myself.

When I got an email from Professor Selvin about the opening last fall, I jumped at the opportunity because why not? Who wouldn’t want to intern at VICE?! I didn’t think I would be good enough, especially as the position was related to science and technology, two subjects I know little about. But I applied anyway, hoping I would prove myself wrong and broaden my horizons–and I did more than that.

When VICE called me to give me the news, they said they gave the internship to someone else, but they liked me so much that they were creating another position just for me. Since then, it’s been a fantastic learning experience.

I had applied to work with one podcast, and I ended up working on every VICE podcast and with the digital production team. I did research for VICE Magazine’s podcast and helped with some scriptwriting as well. I learned about topics from bitcoin scandals to hacking and identity theft. I created a competitive analysis that compared companies that create short-form food videos and analyzed how popular the videos were and what made them so popular. I also created a competitive analysis of videos that use VO and text-on-screen, how they use VO and what made these videos successful and popular. I helped write scripts for Motherboard’s new podcast, “Science Solved It,” researched the topics and contacted sources for all eight episodes, transcribed interviews and edited audio clips. I helped set up the equipment for and sat in on weekly recordings of “Biscuits and Cookies,” VICE sports podcasts about hockey and basketball. I also rough-edited these shows, as well as “Thump,” “Waypoint,” “Platanos” (a podcast about basketball), and “VICE Magazine Podcast.” I transcribed videos for Facebook subtitles for “VICE Sports Explains” and all the videos for VICE’s Weed Week. I also got to paper-edit a few Broadly videos for VICE’s Snapchat.

Being able to do all these things and getting good feedback from the digital production team taught me that I could create content for a prominent media company such as VICE. And it confirmed for me that my work ethic is up to par. As I’m graduating at the end of this semester, I’m now much more confident that I’ll find a job I like in journalism.

For future students interested in interning at VICE, I suggest that you don’t get too comfortable. The environment at VICE isn’t the typical work environment. What I love most is that it’s an unconventional work space. All the staffers wear whatever they want. There are no “private” desks, so you won’t see cubicles with nameplates. Everyone works side by side at desks that look like the lunch tables in elementary school, but with comfy computer chairs. There are snacks everywhere, on every floor. There’s a bar in the lobby, and every hour is happy hour.

Don’t let this environment make you think that this isn’t a professional space. Instead, use it as an opportunity to get to know people. Talk to your deskmates, ask what they’re working on and whether you can help. I would recognize a lot of people from the videos I’d transcribed and go up to them and talk about the things that I liked from their pieces. My supervisors were constantly introducing me to people working for different platforms.

Always ask if you can help with something because there’s always something to help with.

And last but not least, ask where the water cooler is. I was an intern from February to May, and I didn’t find out where the water was until the last week of April because the water machine looks like an alien gun from “Men in Black.”