Sydney Monahan knows how to take advantage of opportunities. With persistence and creativity she turned the improbable into an internship – twice.
How did she do it?
A Communication major and fan of radio, Sydney was standing near the bus loop on the FGCU campus in her freshman year. That day, the Beasley Broadcasting Company was broadcasting live on campus. One of the representatives struck up a conversation with her and dared her to read some material out loud. She took the dare. He told her, “You should do an internship with us.” She followed up and landed it.
With one radio internship under her belt, she was ready for another. In her sophomore year, her brother listened to the Opie and Anthony show and heard they were looking for interns. He told Sydney she should apply, and she did. The position was unpaid and in New York. There were 5,000 applicants and only 130 interns they would hire.
Sydney applied online, submitting a statement about why she wanted the internship. She sent a resume and a letter of recommendation from a supervisor. Two over-the-phone interviews later, she received an email with the words: “Congratulations! You have been accepted as an intern at Sirius XM Radio.”
“It was cra-a-a-a-a-zy!” she says about her feelings on learning she got the internship.
One major hurdle lay ahead. With no pay for the internship, she needed a place to live in New York. “You have a place to stay, right?” was a direct question during the interview. Most other applicants already lived in the area. “Not a problem,” she told them. For this position, she would figure it out. Fortunately, Sydney’s father had relatives in New York. Relatives she had never met, but still relatives, and they lived an hour and a half from her new Manhattan job. Her aunt and uncle agreed to take her into their Long Island home for the summer. One hurdle surmounted.
And so began the experience of a lifetime, meeting professionals like Opie and Anthony, and famous guests like Ricky Gervais and Bob Saggett. She screened callers for the show, and she was on air 4 times a week, frequently brought in spontaneously, sometimes for 5 minutes, sometimes for 2 hours. She was asked her opinion on whatever the topic was. One time, the interns were invited to a screening of the movie, The Conjuring, and were asked to talk about it on air the next day.
But glamour didn’t come without sacrifice. Sydney had to be on the 4:06am train each day and ride the hour and a half into the city to be at Sirius XM by 5:30am. Once there, she would make sure the sound equipment was ready, water and newspapers waiting for the hosts. The 3 interns rotated getting coffees and breakfast.
After her shift, she would return home by 3pm and then work 4-10pm as a server at the Outback restaurant to earn money. Falling into bed when that shift was over, she’d grab a few hours’ sleep before rising to catch the 4:06am train to her internship once again. It was brutal, but weekends allowed her to catch up.
What did she learn? “That I really do love working radio. I did a lot better at the production side than I thought I would.” Not part of her initial duties, Sydney demonstrated interest and they invited her to learn it. One day, the audio production guy said, “Sit in with me and see what I do.” He would ask for her opinions about what music to play underneath dialogue or what sound effects to use in order to paint a picture for listeners.
Did the experience make a difference in her life? Definitely. Once she returned from New York, she was re-hired at Beasley Broadcasting and given more responsibilities. She has more confidence in herself and believes her employers have more confidence in her because of what she accomplished during the summer. Sydney’s first weekend back, she was surprised and gratified to have 3 Opie and Anthony listeners call in to tell her they were glad she was back on the air. She also made a giant leap in Twitter followers, going from 300 when she left Beasley, to 3,000 by the time she left New York.
Would she recommend students do internships? “Absolutely,” she says, “you get to meet people to network with.” She recommends doing an internship because, “it teaches you all the little things that school doesn’t.” Sydney notes, “If I didn’t do an internship, I wouldn’t know how to work a radio board.”
“The internship opened a lot of doors,” says Sydney. “I think now people are going to take me seriously.”