NDSU student lands coveted internship writing and producing news for ABC
The next time you watch “World News,” ABC network’s flagship broadcast, listen closely. The polished words spoken by anchor Diane Sawyer may have come from a 21-year old NDSU student named Andrew Young.
Writing the script for Sawyer is one of the high-level responsibilities entrusted to Young as a one of two summer interns working for Sawyer’s news desk.
“It’s weird,” Young said of having what he writes broadcast to the world. “ABC really trusts interns to learn by doing.”
Young, a senior double majoring in management communication and broadcast journalism, also will schedule, conduct and transcribe interviews; gather research; and write segments during his internship this summer in New York.
His journey to the coveted internship started the spring of 2009 when ABC sought a local person to cover the Red River’s record-breaking flood. Young was hired. After five days of a job well done, a producer handed him a business card and encouraged him to apply for an internship.
The summer of 2010, Young became one of 60 interns selected out of 15,000 applicants to work for ABC News NOW, “World News” and “Good Morning America.”
He remembers the first day he arrived in New York. He stepped off the plane with just the four bags his mom helped him pack beside him and hundreds of skyscrapers in front of him. He thought, “I’m here, now where do I go next?”
His apartment was a block away from Times Square and he estimates it probably had more residents on the first floor than are located in his entire hometown of Napoleon, N.D. It was occupied by interns who worked throughout the city; many for other networks like FOX, CBS, MTV and NBC. At night, they frequently talked about their experiences. Young was surprised by how different his was. “I was able to dive in so much more. Other interns seem to have the stigmatized coffee-getting internships.”
At work, Young’s dedicated work ethic quickly surfaced. He showed up a half-hour early and happily accepted any task thrown his way. Everyday was something different. One day he would transcribe an interview verbatim and the next he would shoot a segment on a cruise ship.
The most glamorous duty was escorting celebrities in and out of the ABC building. Michael Cera, Martina Mcbride, Craig Morgan and Steve Carell are a few of the big names he walked with en route to the greenroom.
He says they all seem like regular people after a while. That happens when Regis and Kelly is taped down the hall and Diane Sawyer is in the lunch line at the cafeteria.
However, one person made him truly star-struck – the legendary Dolly Parton. “She just has this image. Seeing her, almost didn’t feel real … She was awesome, a very genuine real lady.”
Young spent an extra 45 minutes visiting with her in the greenroom since she arrived early. They chatted the time away and at the end she gave Young a hug. “I smelled like her perfume all day,” he said.
The internship was fast-paced and demanding. Producers are blunt and expectations are high. But that’s how Young prefers it. “They can come across as intimidating but I don’t think I would have learned as much if it wasn’t like that.”
Whatever they handed him, Young was ready. He credits NDSU for preparing him by providing hands-on opportunities in the classroom and out. “All the classes at NDSU – intro to media writing, principles of broadcasting and TV studio production – taught me in such a hands-on way. It really enabled me to effectively do my job for ABC right away, I was able to jump in even more then expected,” he said.
His involvement with the campus TV station, Bison Information Network, also provided practical skills. He helped launch the station in 2009 and now serves as its general manager.
Rich Lodewyk, broadcast program director in NDSU’s communication department who has worked with Young at the campus station, isn’t surprised by Young’s success. “What sets Andrew apart is his raw talent. When someone in the broadcasting business sees his work, they can tell he has a firm grasp on how to put video projects together in a professional manner.”
In April, ABC hired Young as a Midwest freelance producer. He produced all the 2011 Fargo Flood content for “World News” and “Good Morning America.”
Young encourages other students to chase their dream jobs. “People in the Midwest often think that because they graduated from a town of 800 that they are not able to get an internship, but they really are. My biggest advice is go for it. Look for your dream job and apply there.”
That’s what he plans to do. After he graduates in May 2012 he hopes to get a full-time job at ABC.
Maybe someday an intern will write the script for him.