The January thoughts of Harvey Creasey III and Humberto Zarco are not weather related. Instead, their focus is on a 14-hour plane ride to a country where neither speaks the language, followed by a four-hour bus trip to a mountainous region.
They will be working behind the scenes during February's Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea.
The seniors, both multimedia journalism majors in the Virginia Tech College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences, landed competitive NBCUniversal International PyeongChang 2018 internships. These opportunities will allow them to work in South Korea, where they will apply their knowledge gleaned from coursework and previous internships.
Creasey, from Richmond, Virginia, will be a runner for the "Today" show, airing live from PyeongChang. His duties will include being part of the crew that organizes the show’s portable set each day, helping guests prepare for their appearances, and running errands for the production team.
Zarco, from Woodbridge, Virginia, is interning at the International Broadcast Center as a footage logger. He will monitor live Olympic events, identifying key moments and shots for the production of highlights and features.
The students applied online for the internships. NBC asked Creasey to do a video interview in which he answered a series of automated questions. After waiting several months for a response to his application, he decided to use his connections with the station. He had interned at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio and, at the time, he was a summer intern at MSNBC in New York City. He followed up with the NBC Sports human resources department and a manager passed his email on to the "Today" show.
“The producers at the 'Today' show weren’t sure they would have a spot for me because they wanted to make sure they had enough Korean-speaking interns first,” he said. “But when I returned to school in the fall, I got a phone call. The 'Today' show was able to offer me the position.”
For Zarco, gaining an NBC internship took three tries. For the upcoming Olympics, his application advanced him to a video interview, and this time he had a competitive edge. In 2015, he was a public-address announcer for the international ice hockey competition at the World and Police Fire Games — which he described as the Olympics for firefighters and police officers — in Fairfax, Virginia. He also interned two summers in production and one in public relations at the Discovery Channel in Silver Spring, Maryland.
“During my last day there this summer, we were having an intern sendoff when I received a call from Connecticut,” Zarco said. “I knew NBC Sports was in Connecticut, but who calls at seven in the evening?”
It was indeed NBC offering him the opportunity to intern at the 2018 Winter Olympics.
Creasey and Zarco have both expressed a sense of gratitude to their professors for preparing them for success as interns.
“During my second semester at the Discovery Channel, my supervisors said I differentiated myself from others because of my attention to detail,” Zarco said. “And I remember thinking about my media writing course with Dale Jenkins and the high standards he placed on his students, which honed my abilities.”
Creasey echoed Zarco’s sentiments, adding that Department of Communication faculty members such as Jenkins, an advanced instructor; Bill Roth, a professor of practice; and instructor Jared Woolly have all provided him with the foundations needed to work in the television industry.
“Their courses stress that there is a better way to tell a certain story, whether it’s through pictures, video, audio, or just text alone,” he said. “The format is as important as the content.”
Zarco’s internship at the Discovery Channel underscored the importance of going beyond facts and statistics in sports journalism.
“My internship made me realize the beautiful thing about sports isn’t the final score,” he said. “It’s the stories and people behind the events, such as those in South Korea, that really matter.”
Creasey learned something else from his internship at the Summer Olympics.
“What I realized in Rio is the country that exists during the Olympics is a fleeting place,” he said. “It will never be like it is again because of the half million travelers who come to watch, the media presence, and, in some cases, the built-in safety precautions. I was one of the lucky people who knew that place in that time.”
He looks forward to a similar experience in PyeongChang.
Written by Leslie King