Internships with ESPN motivate students to strive for more

As part of her internship, Maddie Brightman made a visit to the ESPYs Red Carpet. Credit: Photo SubmittedAll Rights Reserved.

(Editor’s Note: This is the 10th in a series of stories about College of Communications students completing summer internships.)

Despite being on opposite sides of the country, two Penn State students are each interning with the “worldwide leader in sports” this summer.

ESPN, which produced more than 51,000 hours of live programming in 2015, is hosting College of Communications students Nicole Barros and Maddie Brightman this summer as production interns. Barros is interning at the ESPN headquarters in Bristol, Connecticut, while Brightman is working at the Los Angeles studios. The two even crossed paths in late July at the company’s “Intern Symposium” in Bristol, which was an all-day event for 78 interns from Bristol, New York and Los Angeles.

“It’s funny because I’ll see stuff with her name on it sometimes, like video she is editing. So, even though you are 3,000 miles apart, there is some overlap,” said Brightman.

Even though the two rising seniors are working with different shows, they are doing similar things on a day-to-day basis. When they first arrive at work most days they have a show meeting, which consists of producers, production assistants, editors, technical directors and anchors. Then, the two cut a lot of video for voiceovers. During shows, they are either cutting video or running the teleprompter.

Brightman, who works the 1 a.m. “SportsCenter,” which comes on at 10 p.m. Pacific time, usually gets in the office around 3:30 p.m. She has had the opportunity to cut “SportCenter Top 10 Plays” twice, as well as other video and sound for the show.

Barros’ schedule changes more frequently as she rotates every two weeks between different ESPN2 shows, including “First Take,” “Mike and Mike,” “His and Hers” and sometimes helping out with “SportsCenter.” So, some shows are in the morning and some come later in the day.

Despite the differences in shows and locations, the two have each been able to make connections and have crossed paths with some pretty recognizable faces in the industry. For Barros, the names include Stephen A. Smith, Skip Bayless, Field Yates and Jalen Rose. For Brightman, the anchors from L.A. are Neil Everett and Stan Verrett, with Kenny Mayne sometimes filling in. Barros even had the opportunity to go to Jets and Steelers training camps with “First Take,” and Brightman got to attend the ESPYs Red Carpet.

“With 5,000 employees across over a dozen buildings, it’s never a dull moment,” said Barros. “Seeing all that goes in behind the scenes of the shows has been one of the coolest aspects for me. But, even though there’s so many people working on the rundowns, I’ve still been able to pitch ideas that they’ve actually used.”

When they aren’t working on the weekends, the two have also found ways to stay busy. Barros, who rooms in a suite at a local college with eight other girls, said they travel to Boston or New York City on the weekends a lot. Brightman is close to her family and gets to see them on the weekends, as well as hang out with her fellow interns or explore LA. Another perk of her job is free passes to Disneyland for the summer.

While each of them say Penn State has prepared them well, there were also many learning experiences at ESPN. For example, the editing software that ESPN uses to cut video is unique to the company.

While the two have the privilege of seeing some of their work flash across the screen at ESPN on a regular basis, moving forward both Barros and Brightman have big goals. They also have another year of school to build on their skills.

“It just makes me really thankful for the opportunities I’ve had at Penn State. The program has exceeded my expectations,” said Brightman, who was already the first female to call a football game for ComRadio. She has also traveled to Cuba to cover a historic Penn State baseball trip to the country and covered the Super Bowl through the John Curley Center for Sports Journalism.

“It makes me excited and gives me a little bit of drive to say, ‘What can I do next?’ With my senior year ahead of me, I want to take everything I’ve learned at ESPN to help take ComRadio and Centre County Report to the next level. Having all these opportunities just pushes me to want to do something even cooler after graduation.”

Barros is still deciding between pursing a career on-air or in production after graduation, but this internship has helped assure her that she is destined for the sports industry.

“All you do is talk about sports all day with everyone that works there,” said Barros. “Everyone is just as passionate about sports as I am, so that’s something I really like.”

Nicole Barros regularly works with shows such as "First Take" during her internship. Credit: Photo SubmittedAll Rights Reserved.

Last Updated June 02, 2021