My name is Brittany Rosen and I’m currently a reporter/producer for CTV News Regina. I’ve been working at CTV as an employee for about a month and like many people in this industry, I started out as an intern.
I’m super excited to share my story here on Shold Media Group, whom I’ve been following for so long. I’m just a rookie starting out in this crazy industry, so in no way am I qualified to share advice on how to achieve your dreams of getting on the big screen, but what I can tell you about is work ethic, strategically planning your career, taking advantage of what you have control over, making sacrifices and of course, networking.
Like many of my fellow journalists, I started off doing a lot of the small stuff for free. In high school I anchored my school’s newscasts, I volunteered at my local Rogers TV station (which now doesn’t exist). In university I did so many unpaid gigs that I can’t list half of them off the top of my head. Whether it was reporting at the campus news network or the paper, writing for a handful of unheard of online publications, or doing some sketchy on-camera gigs (one job put me in a dangerous situation), I did it all and I don’t regret it because it gave me a really good feel for the industry and what I was dipping my toes into.
I also reached out to reporters in the industry for advice on how to become successful. I still keep in touch with my mentor and good friend, Cristina Tenaglia from CP24, who I connected with in high school. I’m very grateful for her advice because she always kept things real with me about this field of work and how it can be more challenging than it seems.
When I first got into university, they had changed the laws for internships. Basically, you could only do an internship if it was paid or for school credit. Before, you could intern for free without school credit. As many people know, paid internships are amazing, but for TV stations, they were few and far between. My school-credit internship wasn’t until my last year at Ryerson.
My only options for experience were the school publications unpaid gigs that I sometimes found off Kijiji. Along with those jobs, I decided to create my own opportunity. I pitched, produced and hosted a show for Rogers TV called DIY York Region, which gave me my first piece of on-camera television experience.
After that, it was experience and networking with a Ryerson grad, Nitish Bissonauth, who is still my good friend up to this day, that landed me my first paid TV job at The Weather Network. He was an employee there and passed along my resume to HR. The hiring process took over a month and although I was very discouraged at times, I was still hopeful. They didn’t hire me for the position I originally applied and interviewed for, but eventually I was hired for another position as a TV writer.
At TWN, I had the opportunity to meet even more people in the industry, shadow presenters and get even more practice on-camera. My incredibly amazing boss at the time, Derek Snider, knew I wanted to be on-camera and he was kind enough to let me shadow reporters and presenters, as well as practice on the green-screen on my free time. Now I really took advantage of those opportunities he gave me, although nothing I did went to air. Nonetheless, every week when I had a day off from school, I would go on my two-hour commute on the subway and bus, dress-up, sit-in on weather briefings, practice and record improvised hits (there are no scripts in weather unless it’s a report; everything is live). I would then watch over my hits, send them to my boss and producers and ask for feedback. They were very kind and honest and I would try to apply their tips for the next time I came in to practice. I found this to be one of the best ways to keep growing and improving my on-camera presentation and delivery.
By this time, the years were starting to fly by and before I knew it, the next year would be my fourth-year internship. For me, this internship meant the world to me, and I wanted to choose wisely. The placement could either be a bridge to a job, or it could be an opportunity to build a sweet demo reel, which could also play a part in getting a job after school. I’d looked at my internship this way since first year, and I’d planned where I wanted to intern well in advance.
A year before the internship, I messaged reporters from different stations on LinkedIn asking what exactly their interns do. I knew I didn’t want to be getting someone coffee, writing scripts or doing the teleprompter- as I had already done these things at Rogers and TWN. I wanted to get on-air experience and build a decent demo-reel. That was my goal.
Let’s just say the CTV Regina internship came to me, and not in the way you’d think. Still a year in advance, I sent an email out to about 10-15 stations across the country…CTV Regina was the only station I heard back from. I spoke with the News Director on the phone, asked what their interns do and learned that their interns could earn the opportunity to be on-air. This was partly because the station was non-unionized, unlike stations in larger markets. There was no need to look any further, CTV Regina it was!
A year later, in the last semester of my program, I packed my suitcase and moved to Regina, thinking that I would only be there for six weeks and then would go back to finish the last six weeks of my program.
On the first week of the placement, I got my first story on-air and I felt so happy. It just felt right, knowing that I was really getting something out of it, knowing that I didn’t come halfway across the country in -25 degree weather for nothing, and knowing that it was everything I wanted it to be.
I expressed my interest in working at the station to my colleagues and my News Director. I put my all into every story I did. I also sought after feedback, and I made sure to be grateful for each and every single piece of advice for my stories. Even when I made mistakes, I apologized and promised to do better for next time. An internship is an opportunity to learn. So I nodded, smiled, thanked reporters and producers for their advice, and made sure that I was never a difficult person to work with. I know it sucks sometimes when someone points out all the things that are wrong with your work, but from my experience, employers love someone who can easily take that criticism, understand it and be willing to change for next time.
One of the reporters happened to be leaving, so I knew there was some sort of a position opening up. During the fourth week of my internship, my boss approached me and offered me a contract. I said yes immediately and the rest was history!
Being away from friends and family has been tough, but I know this is what I’ve wanted for so long and there will be plenty of opportunities to visit!
One thing I think people just starting out in the industry should know is that you have to make sacrifices and go where the work is. I knew staying in Ontario and working my way up to a position like this could take a very long time, possibly years. I learned this from connecting with people in the industry, doing my own research and even from my own experience.
I’m not saying you have to move halfway across the country like I did, but as I said, going where you’ll be given an opportunity could be what you have to do to land your first on-air gig.
Although I feel like I’m just a new-born in this industry, I hope my story can help others who are also trying to make it into TV.
P.S I’ve followed SMG for years, taking notes of what others have done to succeed in this industry. Getting as much insight as possible can really help your career! (Editor’s Note: Brittany was not compensated in any way for this statement!)
You can find Brittany on Twitter @CTVBrittany
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