August 27, 2007

Behind-the-Scenes at Spike TV

Vanessa Araujo-Lopera ’08 writes about her summer internship experience

Vanessa Araujo-Lopera ’08 (Woodhaven, N.Y.) is an international economics and commerce major. This summer Araujo-Lopera served as an intern for ten weeks with Spike TV in New York City. The following is a first-person account of Araujo-Lopera’s experiences.

This summer I had the great opportunity of interning with Spike TV in their digital media department in New York City. We worked on their web site which serves as the support to the on-air channel Spike TV. The environment was one where I felt as if I was part of the team and not just another intern by attending group meetings and participating in their daily tasks. Taking part in a variety of projects gave me a sense of what they, Spike Digital, were all about as well as MTV Networks as a whole. (MTV Networks is a unit of Viacom Inc. which encompasses 135 channels, Spike TV being one of them.)

My ten weeks with them started with training and then lead to meeting the team which included a variety of talented people from flash designers to producers. This is where I had my first lesson: a web site is not just created by one person.

The process of producing a web site that is visited by millions on an everyday basis starts off with the marketing team. They brew up ideas of how they can extend the on-air shows to the web site. Once they establish this, they meet up with the digital group and see what’s possible. From there, duties are split up and once everyone works on the materials, from creating still frames or editing an interview to even producing a flash animation, they then load it onto the system. This is where I had the chance to do a thing or two.

I was taught how to convert the files into formats that the web site program could read and catalog them for future use. From there, the files were then placed into the program which allowed the material to be placed on the web site.

However, this was not my only task. At other times I was able to work with producers and see how they went about editing raw material. I also created stills for them that were used later. I had the opportunity to handle treatments, which are preliminary ideas for shows that people submit to Spike TV. Since the purpose was to explore all aspects of the office, I was also able to plan travel and create expense reports for them.

Even though my daily tasks taught me a lot, I would have to say that that was not one of the most important things that I learned. There were many other things that had a greater impact on me.

First, I witnessed first hand the merge of Spike Digital with IFILM which gave root to many changes. The web site was given a new face as well as a new connection in Los Angeles. The environment that I had become accustomed to in two weeks changed in a matter of a weekend. It was an eye-opener to see how quickly a company can change over night.

Second, I had one of the best supervisors that also served as my mentor. She not only taught me the ropes around the office and gave me her personal account of the professional world, but also taught me about how to handle the real world. Her life lessons are ones that I will carry with me for years to come.

Third, before the summer began I was sure that I wanted to wear a suit to work everyday and work in the corporate world. Ten weeks later, that quickly changed. I now see myself working in an environment where you look forward to going to a meeting because your team is a handful of creative minds that set a comfortable atmosphere, a place where you can crack jokes and wear what you wish.

As a whole, I would have to say that ten weeks were not enough and what I got out of my internship cannot even be put into words. I am happy that I stepped out of what I am used to and took a different road this summer from what was expected from my major. I would recommend to anyone to try something different when they can. It was a very valuable experience that I will never forget.

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