Brandon Hedgepeth, a 2020 Telecom graduate and student at Old Dominion University, is the new Telecom intern.
He is technically an advanced junior at ODU, thanks to Dual Enrollment, Early College, Telecom college credits, and courses he took through the Virginia Space Grant Consortium.
Majoring in Media Studies in the Department of Communication, Hedgepeth is taking his college courses asynchronously, which gives him flexibility to spend his days working on his internship.
The ODU Communication Internship requires him to be a junior or senior, have taken statistics, and major or minor in the Communication field.
Hedgepeth first heard about an internship at Telecom as a Woodside High junior taking TV Production I. Telecom Supervisor Ray Price told the class about college internship opportunities.
"I took that to note as something I would be very interested in," said Hedgepeth.
As a Telecom student, Hedgepeth was part of the remote production crew, working on live broadcasts of School Board meetings, football games, and graduations.
While at Woodside/Telecom, Hedgepeth was named a 2020 Newport News Public Schools Student MVP (Most Valuable Player), which honors seniors who made an "extraordinary contribution to the culture and success of their school community." Hedgepeth's work on the Principal's Advisory Committee and the City-Wide Student Government Association were noted, including his willingness to help others and his thoughtful ideas to improve policy.
Brandon Hedgepeth's two podcast stations:
Hedgepeth continued to work on Telecom live productions after starting at ODU, as part of the stripped-down, COVID-19 lock-down team. The Telecom crew, usually made up of staff and plenty of students, employed recent Telecom graduates since the high school students were not available and not trained.
"I was so excited when Brandon asked if he could do an internship at Telecom," said Price. "I have mentioned his name to several production companies and news stations as someone that is up and coming and they should consider hiring. I know he will be successful no matter where he goes or what he does."
Hedgepeth started as Telecom Intern at the end of August, and helped promote Telecom at the Touch-a-Truck exhibit at the Southeast Community Back-to-School Block Party.
Now that Telecom classes have begun, Hedgepeth is assisting in training the students in television production, particularly in the use of video camera equipment, both in class and on the crew.
He also is motivated to promote the Telecom program and attract more digital viewers as well as new students.
Additionally, Hedgepeth has been training with NNPS-TV Broadcast Engineer Greg Lesko, who is retiring soon.
"I have been learning a lot from him about how to maintain a lot of the equipment, especially with the truck," Hedgepeth said, "as I may have to assist the crew members with engineering-related issues in his absence."
According to Hedgepeth, he will continue to expand Telecom's social media sites and more consistently inform the public "about who we are and what we're capable of."
"This new role as an intern is quite different from my previous role as simply being a member of the production crew," he said.
One difference that he likes is that he is able to be present for the "whole process" as opposed to just being part of the shoot. He enjoys learning from Telecom staff and gaining experience in different areas of production.
But his favorite part is "working with the students and being able to share some of my knowledge and experiences with them," he said. "I have always loved the education field, so it is really great to be able to help the next generation of Telecom students."
There are many challenges, of course, and especially now due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Normally the Telecom student crew members would already be trained, but with no in-person school for 2020-21, this year's seniors have not had the hands-on training for live productions. There was no summer training, either, because the building was closed for renovations and most equipment stored.
"This year the crew training is implemented into the class itself, with a required additional production needed before students officially join the crew," said Hedgepeth.
Hedgepeth likes to be "as productive as possible," and does a lot of outside research on his own. He also has a modern mindset, and is re-thinking how productions are done, emphasizing YouTube and social media promotion.
Another thing he would like to see is starting the Telecom student recruiting process earlier in the year.
"It's such a unique program that has helped so many people over its 30-plus years. I want to make sure it gets the recognition it deserves," he said.
Because of all his credits, Hedgepeth will certainly graduate early from ODU. He is planning to earn a Master's degree and hopes in the future to have his own production company.
He now has over five years of content creation experience. When he came to Telecom as a student, Hedgepeth had been making YouTube videos for two years. He completed the two-year Telecom course, the year on the alumni crew, and now has started a semester-long internship. He creates and runs his own podcast stations, blogs, and video projects, too.
"I'm not really sure who else can say that at this age, so I really have to thank Telecom for helping me go past my comfort zone and expand what I love to do," he said.