Each semester, Discovery Communications welcomes hundreds of ambitious students around the globe to immerse them in the media industry and the company during a 12-week hands-on experience. Digital Communications & Social Media intern Samantha Piccirillo will introduce you to some of Discovery’s summer 2012 interns in our latest series of Meet the Interns posts. Today she introduces you to two interns in Discovery’s London office — International Learning & Development’s Sara Hartill-Winkle, a student at the University of Birmingham studying Business Management with Communications, and Finance’s Zhonglun Nie, a Finance & Accounting major at the University of Manchester.
Why did you apply to intern at Discovery?
SHW: I initially applied to Discovery because it is an internationally recognized brand which produces such a high-quality product. I wanted to gain further experience within the media industry, whilst using my strengths — strong communication skills with a creative, yet entrepreneurial, flair. As soon as I visited the office for my interview, I realized it was exactly the type of environment I wanted to work in…with incredible people.
ZN: I started watching Discovery programs when I was a child. Discovery always has been one of my dream companies to work in, and I am eager to know more about the business and the media industry in general. Now it feels like a dream come true for me.
Tell us about one of the projects you are currently working on.
SHW: I am in the process of creating a workshop to educate Discovery employees about old and new technology, apps, and platforms that may be interesting and relevant to their jobs. The sessions are due to take place in August and we hope to create an online version so that employees around the world can also take part. We have a team of people working on this project with me, including other interns, some of our internal creative talent and, of course the L&D team. Together we hope to produce a final product that entices everyone to make the most of the technology we have at our disposal and approach learning in new ways.
ZN: I am currently dealing with the Ad Sales client database, which contains thousands of entries about each client that has advertised on our channels. My task is to improve the database by adding more specific product categories. As our team receive requests from regional sales teams on reports about spending of a specific category (e.g., tourism board spending), I add categories making these more detailed reports possible.
What has been your favorite part of working at Discovery so far?
SHW: The best part about working at Discovery has been the number of people that are so willing to help and advise you. Already I have learned so much and have been able to apply this to all of my projects. I really enjoy the executive breakfasts and lunches with different managers as they are very informal and you can ask as many questions as you can think of!
ZN: I love the environment and the people here. Everyone is so helpful and friendly (funny, as well), and my team especially has given me a lot of help with both technical working skills (computer skills) and acclimating myself to the office environment. I believe this organizational culture is definitely something unique to Discovery.
What is one goal you want to accomplish by the end of your internship?
SHW: I only have three months here at Discovery, so it is important for me that I manage to prove how committed I am to my role and exceed the already high expectations. The presentation project demands a lot of time and a huge amount of planning. Therefore, I really want to ensure that this stands out, is a success and, most importantly, that people enjoy it.
ZN: At the moment it is to perform well in my role and accomplish my project in high quality. Also I wish to know more about how the company operates and build lifelong relationships with some amazing people I have met in this company.
If you could guest star on any Discovery show, what would it be and why?
SHW: It would have to be Shark Week. I worked at a dolphin sanctuary before and love marine biology. In my spare time, I am always out on the water, either water skiing or wakeboarding. Normally when Shark Week is on I am on a family holiday in Huntington Beach, California, and we watch it every evening (being grateful that we haven’t encountered a shark that day).
ZN: It has be River Monsters. I am generally into Discovery Channel’s wildlife programs and this is the main reason that I applied for the internship.
Sara, what have you learned about the role of Learning & Development at Discovery and at the company as a whole?
SHW: The Learning & Development role is perfect if you enjoy interacting with other employees and working across several areas. I have already been able to speak with John Honeycutt, EVP & COO for Discovery Networks International, regarding the business agenda, to attend an audio session in Soho with the Production team and to learn about the latest technology thanks to the Digital Media team. I particularly enjoy coming up with new and exciting ideas and pitching these to my team. It is incredible how much Discovery works to ensure that our employees have access to the latest products and a huge opportunity to progress personally.
Lun, what have you learned about our international businesses and the media industry as a finance intern?
ZN: I would like to quote something that DNI COO John Honeycutt relayed: ”If you don’t like change, you are not choosing the wrong company; you are choosing the wrong industry.” This business is amazingly dynamic and ever changing, and to me this is the beauty of it. On the more technical side, I learned more about how the business works. Content is always king — driving ad sales and affiliate sales.