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Intern Spotlight: Braden Clark

 
braden-clark
Braden Clark

A few years ago I was asked, “So why do you want to be a journalist?” What makes me passionate about what I do? Why do this? Many occasions, I would have to defend my career path to family, friends and colleagues. I’ve heard them all. “Journalism is dying,” “You won’t make any money doing that,” “It’s such a small window, what makes you think you can succeed where so many fail?” To a point where I even questioned myself, and wonder if I would ever be talented enough to reach the dreams I put out before me.

I guess we have to go back to my youth where the interest really started. I was never the kid who had a lot of friends in grade school. Sure, I had a solid couple of friends, but there were many times where I would come home from school, and sit and wait for someone to invite me to something. However, I don’t blame my childhood friends for this, because I was a strange kid. I was really tall for my age so I was extremely uncoordinated, and I had an awful stutter which made talking really difficult.

I filled a void of coming home and watching ESPN until the day was dark and I would have to go to bed and do it all over the next day. It took me a long time to realize, but these shows I would come home to watch were my “friends” of my youth.

At the time, I wanted to play professional sports, but I soon realized that dream probably wouldn’t come to fruition. This was my way of doing something that I loved and something that really saved me from a lonely dark time of my youth.

So jumping forward to when I knew journalism was the career path for me, I knew it would take a lot of determination to achieve the goals I would set out for me. I did everything I could to make myself standout above anyone else my age.

I would constantly be writing to hopefully improve my ability to write and tell stories, but something that would stick with me was what my Grandpa Stevens told me before he passed away, he said, “Brady you’re a Stevens, sure your name says Clark, but you’re a Stevens, too. Which means you’re a hard worker, and most times you may not be the smartest, the most talented, or even the most qualified under some situations, but you will always be the hardest worker.”

One time in particular, I applied to be an intern for the Utah Jazz. One of my close high school friends had gotten an internship with them and I thought I would apply for the same position he got the year prior. Or at least I thought it was the same internship.

I was scrolling through my twitter feed when I saw the link for it, and I remember thinking to myself, “why not?” I spent the next afternoon running around updating my resume and cover letter to make it seem like I was qualified for the position. Keep in mind, I thought that this was a writing position for the Utah Jazz website.

It all seemed to be luck that I found the email saying I was moving on to the next round, because apparently I tied my spam email to my resume (don’t do this). I would have missed the email all together if I wouldn’t have stumbled across my hotmail one afternoon to see I had received an email from David Locke, the radio voice for the Utah Jazz, saying I was invited to an interview in Salt Lake City.

Going to the interview was such a blur, and I remember being taken off-guard when David came out and greeted me for the interview. I was incredibly overwhelmed by the situation, because I was a freshman in college still, and apparently I was in an interview for a post-grad internship with the Utah Jazz. To be brief, I didn’t get the internship and that was more then two years ago. I received a phone call the next day from David explaining to me why I didn’t get the job, and he basically told me I need more experience and to come back in a few years.

So that’s what I did, the next two years I took classes here at Utah State University that would help me improve and to one day get this internship that I was denied because of my lack of experience. I wrote for offshoot websites, I got an internship with USU Athletics and I was the play-by-play broadcaster for women’s volleyball. All of these things helped me get a better understanding of what I would be required to do when I would one day get the internship.

So there I sat, back in the same room where I sat as a nervous freshman, I was back and ready to prove to David I had come back with the attitude to take this internship by storm. You can imagine the disappointing feeling I had when he had no idea who I was when I sat down, nor did he recall when I reminded him I interviewed with him two years prior. I explained to him, how I did all of these things and trained myself to be the best candidate possible, and that I was incredibly motivated to be the best person for the job.

I left the interview with a sense of calm surrounding me. I did the best I possibly could do for the interview, and all I could do was hope. I got the phone call the next day that would make all of my hard work pay off, and I finally got the internship that alluded me two years prior.

When I got to orientation, I wasn’t sure what to expect, but what I can tell you it was like trying to drink from a fire hose. We were expected to do a lot of things I never even expected right off the start, and I knew I would have to quickly adapt to this new situation if I wanted to, not only survive, but stand out among the other interns.

I was the only non-graduate David brought on to be his five new interns, and I felt a great sense of pride because of it, but I could tell I had the farthest to go still. We had very few responsibilities to start off. For example, we were studio assistants for the radio broadcasts, and when we were working in this position we were tasked to create content for the commercial breaks for the broadcast.

This would include: interviews (collected by us) from the head coaches during the pregame media interviews, a segment called “Day in History” where we would look back in Jazz history for a historic moment that happened that exact day, at the end of the broadcast we would do a segment called “NBA Today”—the most exciting and strenuous work we would do, in my opinion—and during this segment we would create a highlight package of the top story around the NBA, and finally when the game concluded we produced and created “Jazz Game Rewinds” where fans can come back and quickly listen to us walk through the exciting moments of the games.

This seemed like the hardest hill for me to climb, because I wasn’t comfortable hearing my own voice in a studio, so often times when I would go back and listen to something I produced, and it sounded choppy and uncomfortable. Many times this season, I would receive emails from David explaining what I’ve done wrong, and how I should improve. This was really upsetting for me, because I want to be the best, but when I see people who are better than me I get competitive. I didn’t know exactly how to fix this issue, but then I thought I had a whole slew of professors who want to see me succeed with this, so I went back and asked them to “grade” my work every night. This helped out a ton, because I was able to receive insight to what I was doing right and what I was doing wrong.

The thing with recording voice for things like radio, it just takes practice, and nobody is Vin Scully right off the start. I had to tell myself this over and over, and after a while, I started getting comfortable talking into a microphone and really developed some sort of a voice. I am nowhere near comfortable, but I can see a steadily improvement, and I can be happy about the progression I’ve made.

Outside of studio work, we were in charge of stats for the broadcasters. For us new assistants, we were only allowed to do stats with David, but when he was confident in our abilities he would allow us to go to opposing team’s broadcasters and help them. This is where I think I shined, because at the start of the season I was told over and over again how serious NBA broadcasts were, and this scared me to a point where I refused to be unprepared. So I would work hours before each game, and find cool/interesting stats to give to David during his broadcast. The fear motivated me to be always prepared for any situation during the games, and that preparation soon allowed me to work with opposing teams soon enough.

I was able to work with the likes of Brian Sieman, Brent Barry and John Ireland, to name a few, and these guys really showed me how to prepare for these games. Some even took the time to give me pointers about what the business is like and what I need to do get a leg up. It’s an experience I will never forget. There were many times where I was sitting courtside and would have to remind myself that I was working. Can you blame me? I was sitting courtside of an NBA game and getting paid for it.

There were many times I was star struck this season, and I had many opportunities to interview players and coaches I grew up watching as a little kid, but the one time where I was overcome with nerves was when I was able to interview LeBron James. I had a moment when he was standing three feet in front of me. There I was, a high fives distance from the greatest basketball player in the world. I immediately thought about the times where people told me it wasn’t smart to get into journalism, because I wouldn’t be good enough, and how I have proved them wrong. I immediately posted the video of the interview onto Facebook and Twitter and those same people were the first ones to congratulate me on this awesome opportunity.

So when I look back at the last six months and what I’ve learned, it’s almost impossible to summarize it in—what was supposed to be—a five page paper. I think about all the times I thought about giving up on this career path; I think about all the times where I didn’t win the writing awards in high school, and thinking to myself that I wasn’t actually any good at this, however, I was determined to prove everyone wrong, and it didn’t matter where you went to school or grew up.

Yet, with all of these achievements I don’t feel satisfied. I’m constantly looking for the next ledge, and what is next for my career. This has always been the case for me, but sometimes it can be a very depressing thing, too. I hardly ever look back and think of all the things I’ve achieved and be proud of them. Maybe I should, but there always comes that fear of being content with oneself. I never want to feel that way.

So if I had to close this out, I would say working for the Jazz did one thing for me: it opened the door that I didn’t think was possible, and I don’t want it to close. I’ll go down swinging, if I must.