At least once a week I speak to a young lady who aspires to be in the TV business. Sometimes it’s a high school student, others an entire college class. No matter who it is, I give the same advice. Get an internship. Volunteer to be a runner. Do whatever you can to get experience. Because in my business its likely not an impressive college degree that will get you your first job, but who you’ve worked for or with.
One of my first TV jobs was as a runner for Good Morning America. The morning show visited Old Tucson Studios when I was in college. One of my journalism teachers recruited people to work as runners, i.e. free labor. My job was to coil cable for a camera that was on a truck. I quickly released cable when the truck sped ahead chasing after it and figure eighted it when it slowed down. I didn’t get paid a dime, but didn’t care. The chance to meet Charles Gibson and Joan Lunden was valuable enough. Each day I went home covered in dirt from head to toe. I worked my butt off!
I was reminded of my many internships at the 2012 Olypmpics where a few hundred interns were lucky enough to work in London as runners. I’d bet a lot of money that I can tell the ones who might one day be my boss apart from the ones who will aspire to be in the business for all the wrong reasons and give up because it’s too hard.
The ones that will make it take initiative. Ask questions. Do things they haven’t been asked to do. They Figure out a persons needs because even the littlest thing can make an impact.
For years, my runner at Notre Dame has picked us up to drive to our meetings with Brian Kelly with Starbucks in the car. No one ever asked or told him. He figured out who liked lattes, and who took their coffee black or with ½ and ½. Guess what….I’m looking for a new runner, because he now has a real job with NBC.