With Drive and Ambition, NSC Alumnus Turns Internship Into Career


Before he got his big break in the television industry, Stephen Walker, ’12, was working at a Kissimmee airport and attending classes at the Nicholson School of Communication as a radio-television major. He wanted to gain some hands-on experience in his field before he graduated, so he took an internship at Golf Channel, located in Orlando. It was an opportunity that shaped not only his future, but the future of his fellow R-TV students.

At the time Walker came aboard, Golf Channel was just developing its internship program. Walker was one of the first R-TV students in that program, and ended up being praised as the best intern Golf Channel ever had.

“Stephen’s greatest attribute was his willingness to learn,” said Wes Jackson, Golf Channel’s director of studio operations, in an email. “He was professional from day [one], treated this opportunity with great respect, and has become a true riser within our company.”

Walker said that he seized the opportunity to find out how a network really operates – and that opportunity paid off. Walker now serves as an associate producer for the network’s reality competition shows, including “Big Break.” He’s involved in every aspect of production, from casting logistics to creating the actual competitions.

“What I love about television is the things you get to do and the exciting things we make,” Walker said. “Every day I have creative input on what gets put on a national network.”

With a little hard work and a willing attitude, Walker was able to turn an internship into a dream job. His former R-TV instructor, Stephanie Rice, credits him with paving the way for the other R-TV students who have been hired at Golf Channel. Currently, 13 NSC graduates, all from the class of 2012, are employed at Golf Channel. Many of them, including payroll coordinator Tori Denhard, started out as interns.

“If you get brought in [as an intern], they do want to keep you,” Denhard said.

Denhard kicked off her Golf Channel career as a studio intern, working behind the camera. She was earning her degree through the generalist track and wanted to explore the business side of television, so she wasn’t excited about learning the mechanics of production. But like Walker, Denhard seized the opportunity in front of her.

“When I started, I didn’t want to operate a camera. I didn’t want to be on air, but it’s always helpful being open to that,” she said. “As long as you are receptive, it will open so many doors.”

What also opened doors for Denhard was her honesty. From the beginning, she made it clear that she wanted to be a part of Golf Channel long after her internship ended.

“I was always clear in stating my intentions. Like, ‘I’m here and I want to stay here. I want a job,’” she said. “You want people to think about how difficult it will be once you’re gone.”

Denhard and Walker were also prepared because of their time spent at NSC. Walker said that one of the things he enjoyed most about being a student was the experience gained and the relationships built with professors due to the smaller classes sizes. He also enjoyed volunteering at Knightly News, which is where he met many of his good friends including Michael Holleran, another Golf Channel intern-turned-employee for whom Walker paved the way.

“Stephen is one of the hardest working and most driven people I’ve ever met,” Holleran said in an email. “He has relentless passion and is a great friend and colleague. He helped open the door for me both on campus and at GC and I’m forever indebted.”

Golf Channel is currently looking for interns for some of its departments, including marketing, programming and for GolfChannel.com. To find out more about these opportunities, visit the NBC Universal website.

To view the original article from the Nicholson School of Communication, click here.

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