It’s not every day that you get an opportunity to intern with the Dallas Cowboys, but longtime fan and local, Caitlin Crawford had that opportunity.
Crawford was born in Dallas, Texas, and she will graduate from the University of Oklahoma with a degree in broadcast and electronic media in May 2013.
While attending OU, she received an opportunity to intern with the Dallas Cowboys.
Read the interview to find out how she separated herself from the competition to get the internship and experience of a lifetime.
Here is a video about her experience with the Cowboys!
Q: What was the process like getting an internship with the Dallas Cowboys?
C: I would definitely say the biggest aspects to focus on when your applying for an internship is sending them quality content that you’ve already produced. You do have to be a junior at least to qualify for an internship, but they do have a variety of internships available with the Dallas Cowboys. Basically it does help a lot to network, specifically in with the media world. A lot of the news stations in Dallas attend all the press conferences and you do get the opportunity to meet a lot of people. I had the opportunity to send in my some articles I’ve written and I got a phone interview with the head of the media department with the Dallas Cowboys. I discussed with him my experiences working at the University of Oklahoma. And told him about everything I’ve done in college and sent him my resume a long with the content that I had already produced. I would say that that’s the biggest aspect of applying for the internship, is just making sure you send in quality content that will really catch their eye and really differentiate yourself from the other students that are applying from all over the country.
Q: What in your mind is considered quality content that separates you from the competition?
C: When I first applied, I am actually a broadcast electronic media major, so my major focus is on the video and editing aspects of producing content. I know a lot of students will send in their reels that they’ve produced already. Having on camera experience and being very comfortable in front of the camera is very important. That was something that I really had to work at, was getting comfortable in front of the camera and I think that anyone who is a personality in the media has to continue to work at that throughout their career. Especially sports articles you write shows that you can communicate effectively, I think that’s the biggest aspect of producing a reel, producing content editing content. It shows that you are able to edit, report, and produce. In today’s media world you have to be a one man band. You can’t just be a journalist, you have to know the technical aspects as well because that’s what people in the sports world and the media networks want to see, is that yes you can want to be on camera, but you also know how to do all the technical qualities as well.
Q: Did you apply to be specifically on camera?
C: I told them that I wanted to be on camera. My major is focused on video editing and graphic design. I told them that I’m taking broadcast journalism classes, because essentially at the Gaylord College here at the University of Oklahoma, our major is specifically journalism with an emphasis on whatever our major is. So my emphasis is broadcast and electric media, so I went in knowing how to use Final Cut Pro, Avid, Adobe Photoshop and all of the technical qualities and I told them I had some experience on camera doing reporting at school, but that wasn’t my strongest suit. So the Dallas Cowboys really do allow interns to kind of get their feet wet and get in front of the camera as long as you know how to do all of the other technical qualities they need. You also have to know how to shoot football, you have to know how to shoot and be able to use a camera and effectively set up a set for a T.V. show. You have to know how to do lighting. The staff that they have there are really helpful, because they understand that students are interning and they’re learning and that was something that truly helped me when I went in. I got to do a little bit of everything and I also ran EDS operator, which was an experience of a lifetime. An EDS operator is a playback system that basically runs replays. I did that for the video board in the Cowboy Stadium. I had the opportunity to do that, it wasn’t scheduled. They actually didn’t have anyone to run the system at the current time and they just got it installed and I said, I know how to run that. And they said, well do you want to hop on and run some replays for us and I said, sure! So I got to run the operator for the FIFA soccer game there that summer. That was incredible, getting to see replays that I was running on the big screen in Cowboy stadium. That’s a skill that I’m glad I acquired here at the University of Oklahoma.
Q: Is there anything that you did prior to entering the internship program to prepare yourself even more for the experience?
C: I actually made files and studied the team and studied the history of the team. You really just have to know the Dallas Cowboys. You have to know the organization and everything from staff to scores to knowing people in the upper office. When you go into an organization like that, it is very nerve racking as a college student because you are at the bottom of the totem pole. You want to feel qualified to be there and people have a lot more respect for you when you come in there and you really do know what you’re talking about and you know the people in the organization and you basically have to study up.
Q: How long did the internship last?
C: I received the internship in May and I actually interned there two summers in a row and it lasted from May until August. I also had the opportunity to go back over the holidays and produce a feature here and there for the television shows just within the media company there.
Q: What was your experience like during those months? Can you give us a run down on what your day was like?
C: It ranged and it would always depend. You know in the off season the players come in at different times in the day. You have to coordinate with the PR staff there to figure out when you’re going to be able to actually do the interviews with the players that you have a specific player bio or feature you’re producing. There were set times each week that they would shoot the television shows. They have the Blitz and Special Edition which air over the summer. So they had those tow set times. I helped out with the radio show on occasion, so it really varied on the events. The Dallas Cowboys Stadium has many events within the summer. They have concerts, the PBR Tour, and more. Basically the media department has to cover everything that happens at the stadium. So we would have to put together features or recaps on anything that happened at the stadium as well and a lot of it is preparing for training camp in August. The day-today is I’d say, I would go in and figure out what was on the schedule for that week and start writing scripts and put together feature ideas. The days varied, it’s definitely different working for a sports organization compared to a news station. The difference is that you write from certain angles, you have certain events you have to cover and it was an overall amazing experience I couldn’t be more grateful for everything they allowed me to do there.
Q: Are the Dallas Cowboys looking for a particular skill set?
C: Something they want to see is someone who is willing to show up on time and is willing to stay late. They are looking for someone who is not afraid to get up and make mistakes, but can do the job and can to the job in a timely fashion. They like to see persistence, nobody is perfect and there might be a feature that they look at and say, hey we want to present this differently or let’s edit this differently. They definitely want to see work ethic. I think that was the most important thing that I took away from the experience, was the work ethic and be able to do what you have to do and not be afraid to make mistakes.
Q: How much involvement would you have with creating the features for the programs like the Blitz and the Special Edition?
C: Anything as an intern, you really have to be a self-starter. You have to come up with your own ideas; you have to research the players. You can go in on the set media days to get interviews with the players. You come up with your own stories, you write your own scripts and you produce report and edit the whole thing. So any feature I produced with them, I wrote the scripts, I got the interview and I edited it and they did air on both shows, The Blitz and The Special Edition.
Q: So what’s next after you graduate?
C: I definitely want to do sports broadcast journalism. As of now I am working for the school newscast and I’m doing sports reporting for them here at the University of Oklahoma. When I graduate I’m probably going to move back to Dallas at first and I’m hoping to work for a sports organization or in the sports department in surrounding news stations.