Maryland Students Gain Real-World Skills with BTN2Go
The University of Maryland’s first year in the Big Ten was a successful one— not only for College Park’s student-athletes, but also for the student journalists who gained valuable and professional broadcast experience working with BTN2Go, the Big Ten Network’s online and mobile platform.
During the 2014-2015 academic year, roughly 25 UMD students were given the opportunity to join the broadcast crew for more than 100 of the university’s non-revenue team games that were carried on BTN2Go, according to Pat Shannon, Director of Video Services.
Working in teams of six to nine, students took on the roles of directing, producing, sideline reporting, and running cameras, graphics or replays.
“The positions vary, but I think the key is that they want people who are capable of doing all kinds of production work,” said George Soloman, director of the Shirley Povich Center for Sports Journalism. “So it’s a really good opportunity for our students to get practical experience with a first-class sports television entity.”
Along with getting hands-on experience, working with BTN2Go is an opportunity for students to explore their interests within a television broadcast.
“The fact that you move around is important because you get to see the different sides of [a broadcast] and you appreciate it a lot more,” Marissa Morris, a senior broadcast journalism major.
“I’ve always dreamed of being an on-air reporter, but at the same time, I love all the other roles,” senior broadcast journalism major Marissa Morris said. “I don’t think I would have found out I loved the other stuff if I didn’t have the opportunity to experience all the different positions.
“The fact that you move around is important because you get to see the different sides of [a broadcast] and you appreciate it a lot more,” she added. “You’re able to understand the whole product, not just the interview.”
Aside from the ability to experiment with different job positions within the broadcast, students are also able to work with the same technology as many professionals in the industry. BTN provides each school with a TriCaster system, which acts in place of a satellite truck, integrating video, audio and graphics in a more portable and cost-saving system.
The same system is used by the WNBA and the NBA D-League, and is rapidly becoming more popular with other networks, who then only have to pay for the system once, rather than paying for a satellite truck for each production.
“This Big Ten network is coming in and giving you all this equipment that the professionals use while you’re still in college,” Morris said. “You’re using the same stuff as the people in the real world, so when you actually get out into the real world, you’re familiar with everything.”
It’s not just the real-world experience that benefits students. The relationships you create while working with BTN2Go could prove fruitful off campus as well.
“BTN will ask if we can recommend some of our students for an opportunity in the office in Chicago, and then we’re able to recommend our best students to fill in some roles, whether it’s summer internships or a job with the main network,” Shannon said.
UMD students and faculty alike are now considering ways to improve the quality of their broadcasts from last year.
For example, the students are looking into creative new mediums, such as installing a “net-cam” for soccer games. According to Morris, the network encourages students to experiment with new ideas.
“Being our first year, there were a lot of uncertainties with the equipment and other things,” Morris said. “It was very new, and anything new is a learning process. It was a lot of trial and error. I don’t think the quality of work suffered, but I think the fact that we’ve established it and now going into our second year, we know what to expect, it’ll be really good this year.”
Although Morris and her classmates were able to learn much of what they needed to on the job, the Povich Center is considering introducing a television sports production class this spring to provide students with more training and experience.
“Big Ten to Go offers our students this great opportunity to learn in a professional atmosphere working for a first class organization that is now on our campus,” Soloman said. “What we need to do is make sure our students are prepared to perform the duties that Big Ten to Go needs to put out a first class production.”
Applications to work with BTN2Go will soon be available on the university campus career center website, according to Shannon.
And the qualities that the network is looking for in a student applicant?
“As long as they’re hardworking and they love sports, I think it’s a perfect opportunity,” Ed Shannon, Director of Video Services.
“Hardworking, punctual, focused on the task at hand; those are the kinds of things we look for,” Shannon said. “It’s a student opportunity, so people are going to come in and not exactly know everything and are going to make mistakes, but at the end of the day we want to do a terrific production. As long as they’re hardworking and they love sports, I think it’s a perfect opportunity.”
Hannah Yasharoff is a rising freshman at the University of Maryland.