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Meet Valeriy Panov '15, Intern at NBC Sochi Winter Olympics
Meet Valeriy Panov '15, Intern at NBC Sochi Winter Olympics

We’re halfway through the fall term, but winter is coming! The winter term is a great time to add to your education by participating in an internship. Not only would an internship offer valuable, real-world job experience, it is also a way to gain additional skills that will complement your education.

Valeriy Panov is a senior at Portland State University, double majoring in Finance and Russian Language. This year, Valeriy had the opportunity to intern with NBC at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics and he was kind enough to take some time out of his busy schedule to tell us about his experience.

Q: Tell us about your internship.

At the Olympic Games, I was an intern interpreter through the Russian flagship program. The way it was structured, we really didn’t know what we would be doing; we thought we would be there because of our language skills. The games were split up into venues and each venue had a group of people that would work on videography and would report back to the broadcasting centers, so we were stationed in the mountain broadcasting center for the freestyle games, for all of the skiing and snowboarding events. So I spent most of my time doing office support, anything from getting schedules and helping to organize events to helping the video operators work on the spot. I didn’t use my language as much as I thought that I would, everyone was just so busy that some things got a little lost in translation. If I had made my skills known early on, I might have had a different position. Even though, it was still an amazing experience. They had 50 American interns and about 100 interns from Russia, so it was a really interesting mix of people. I was kind of in the middle because I’m from the Ukraine, but I live in the states, so it was an interesting experience.

Q: How did you find the internship?

It was through the Russian Flagship program. Without that, I would not have heard about it and wouldn’t have been able to apply. They didn’t originally have applications for PSU students, but our professor used her connections to convince them to give us a couple of applications.

Q: How far in advance did you begin your search for internships?

I always want to keep myself busy, and I also understand that to be successful in this competitive environment, you always have to make yourself stand out somehow. It’s always in my mind, that if you have the time and you have the opportunity to help or to intern, why not do it? School is only one aspect, and there is so much more that you need to accomplish while you’re in school to make yourself stand out. It is so easy to get sidetracked and say you’re busy, and I respect student who work during school, but because I have the means to intern, I know I need to use that opportunity. Right after I’m done with one internship, I’m looking for the next one because I want to keep myself occupied. You always want to check the sites, check CareerConnect and check in with the companies that you like just to see what is available.

Q: What, if anything, has surprised you about this experience?

It’s amazing how much resources are available for specialists and people who are good at their job. When I was flying to the internship, I was on a chartered flight and it was all NBC personnel, and many of the specialists were not part of the crew, but were hired just for this event because they are the best in their field. They told me that when you are a high level professional in your field, you have so much provided to you, good hotels, drivers, food, anything you need. You know, we’re so used to going to school and working 8-5, and you get to see a little bit of your work, but not as much. Seeing these people being so good at what they do and being compensated so well for it, it really inspired me to work hard and “master my craft”, as one of the experts put it. I’ll remember that, he really made an impression on me.

We also got to meet Apolo Ohno and that was great. He’s such a great speaker and was so inspiring, so that was amazing.

Q: What advice would you give other students considering an internship?

It’s hard to say because everyone is so different and has different priorities. But I would say that if you have the opportunity to apply, always be looking for opportunities and internships. Don’t be too picky, just go for it. Take a couple of months, dedicate yourself to it and learn from it, because all of it accumulates and contributes to your growth. I’ve learned that doing internships consistently is valuable because you get exposed to so many different things before you graduate. You can learn so much from the people around you. So really, just do it.

Q: What have you learned while at this internship?

Understanding that diversity is very important and being good at your job is very important. I think not being intimidated by challenges and opportunities is important. Sometimes you read a job description and it seems intimidating, but I think that is to scare some people away, and you have to just go for it and do it no matter what. Be aware of what you’re doing and focusing on the process will get you through that fear. Once you get past that fear and you just do it, more opportunities will open up.

Q: How do you feel these experiences will help you in your future?

I think I’ve changed as an individual. The internships that I’ve done have really been challenging and took a lot of time and energy, and I think that was good for me personally. I remember being put on the phones in Russia and being told that I would be talking to citizens and businesses and to “Just go!” and I was like, “What am I doing?!”. So that was a big deal, but it taught me to be comfortable and to just go with the flow. You can make mistakes and just move forward. People don’t judge you as much for mistakes if you admit to them, if you’re willing to learn from them. It’s the process of growing, and I think it’s made me more well-rounded and competitive.

Getting credit for an internship

This series is made possible via reThink PSU grant support.