By Rachael Eyler
If you had told me a few years ago that at age 20 I would intern at BBC, the company that has been my dream job since 15, I would have agreed with every person who said that it was impossible. Well, here I am, 20 years old, interning for BBC Reel, BBC’s features team, defying what many have told me about what I could or couldn’t do.
As excited as I am to say I intern at the BBC, I went into the internship expecting that I wouldn’t be contributing much, based on my previous internship experiences. I thought that I would just be doing research, assisting my editors in small tasks, possibly pitching stories. But you can never assume anything. From my first day, I was thrown into work—and not just basic research but helping produce real content. The BBC treats interns like any other staff and holds us to the same standards. Throughout the internship, I was editing packages, creating social cuts for BBC’s social media, looping story previews for the homepage and designing title cards to accompany videos that were embedded into an article. I don’t have the words to explain how gratifying it is to see my video on the BBC homepage. I began to realize how the small things are necessary to the bigger story. These 10-second loops are the first thing the viewer sees, and they are what makes people want to click on the story.
The more exciting part of interning at the BBC is actually what’s to come in the next few months. Part of my internship was to participate in pitch meetings. I pitched about 30 story ideas, for series such as “Psychology You,” “Future of Sustainability,” “Modern Love,” “World of Wonder” and more. Pitching is hard, and you will be told no—a lot. Many of my ideas were flat-out rejected, but about ten of them were approved. Out of those ten, five are set to be published in the coming months, and the others have been commissioned for BBC’s freelancers to produce in other countries. My stories will not just be featured on the homepage but also under the different series’ playlists. My last story will be featured not on Reel but with BBC’s Worklife section, specifically as part of the Generation Project series, which focuses on rising trends of millennials, Generation X and Generation Z.
My advice to future interns is threefold. First, start practicing the art of networking, and I don’t just mean on LinkedIn. While some of you may not think it, the SOJ is a great resource! If you don’t attend the SOJ events like the “My Life As” series, you should, and for reasons other than gaining extra credit. You should attend workshops, internship fairs, get to know the professors– even the ones you don’t have. This is actually how I was able to get this internship, as well as previous ones. I networked with Washington Post columnist Margaret Sullivan at her “My Life As,” and she gave me the contact of her longtime friend who happens to be the homepage editor of BBC. Secondly, take chances, and don’t be afraid to put yourself out there. So many people told me I could never get to the BBC, that it was unrealistic, that working there is only for “the best journalists.” Never be scared of defying gravity and don’t listen to anyone –family, friends, peers or professors—who tell you that your dreams are too ambitious. I promise they’re not. Remember, dreams become goals when you wake up from sleeping. My dream was to work for the BBC. That turned into the goal of getting there by the time I was 28. Here I am at 20, accomplishing that goal eight years earlier. Last, and most important, once you do land an internship, whether it’s your dream internship or just one of prominence, stay humble. Even those who achieve their goals still have plenty more after. I don’t know what’s next for me, but I do know that this summer opened my eyes to journalism other than politics, which is where I’d always thought I’d end up. And while I still want to move to London and work for the BBC, I think I have a little more clarity of what I aspire my career to be: a multimedia journalist producing long-form video narratives or even documentaries on international issues and conflict.