USC Upstate Student Tackles Internship at WRET-TV

June 21, 2017 at 10:04 am

Communications major Raven Furber has embarked on a summer-long adventure that will have her climbing ladders, wielding a soldering iron and generally learning how to keep a TV station on the air.

Furber, a junior at the University of South Carolina Upstate, has entered into a first-of-its kind technical internship with WRET-TV, ETV’s regional station in the Upstate. Interns are not unique at WRET, according to William Richardson, regional studio manager, ETV Upstate. The station is located on the USC Upstate campus and has for years seen a steady stream of student interns come through its control room. Several of them have gone on to careers in television, Richardson said. These interns frequently work with veteran WRET staffers to write and produce segments that will be used on the air.

Not Furber. Rather, she will work almost exclusively with Gary Stevens, engineering manager, ETV regional stations, in a purely technical, behind-the-scenes capacity.

Seeds for the arrangement were planted when Furber heard Stevens speak to one of her classes.

“I mentioned that broadcast technicians are rare, and that there are openings for that job,” Stevens recounted. “Raven was very interested in seeing the technical side of television, so she asked me about a technical internship.”

Stevens was able to win approval for the novel internship, so Furber will receive credit hours from USC Upstate after putting in 135-140 hours this summer. During that time, Stevens said, the intern’s plate will be full.

“Being on the technical side, she’s going to receive a basic understanding of operating, maintaining and managing the equipment, the systems involved in television,” Stevens explained. “She’s going to learn some basic (electrical skills) – I’m going to show her how to use a volt meter, how to make coaxial cables, show her proper soldering and de-soldering techniques. She’s going to learn how to operate the audio board, the video switcher, how to set up the camera; three-point lighting. She’s going to get quite an introduction to this. We’re going to be busy. She’ll be climbing ladders, she’ll be running cable through ceilings.”

It won’t be all technical work, however; Stevens said the internship will also give Furber a better understanding of the “soft skills” that are necessary for a modern work environment.

“She’s being treated like an ETV employee – a member of this agency,” he said. “She’s going to have her own office, she’s going to have her own set of tools. She’s got her own email and computer. She’s going to have an ID card. That’s real-world experience right off the bat.”

Even though her curiosity was piqued after meeting Stevens, Furber said she’s not the type one might think of to fill a technical internship.

“I just thought it sounded interesting, and I like to learn new things – I thought it would be cool,” Furber said. “I’m probably the least-technical person, but I admire people who are technically inclined. I think it’s really awesome to be able to know how something works, and I’ve always aspired to be someone like that.”

And although the internship doesn’t carry with it any promise of future employment at WRET, Furber could have an “in” there – after a 40-year career, Stevens will retire Oct. 9.

“There’s no stipulation that she’s going to replace me in any way, shape or form,” Stevens said. “She is being provided with an official internship from ETV; now, what she does with that internship later is up to her.”