I’m sure we all know a person, or maybe we are that person, who is creeped out by hospitals. It can be a frightening place, especially for patients who are scared, confused, and unsettled by the idea of people coming in and out, and poking and prodding. These things are only magnified when the patient is a child. This summer, I had the opportunity to help alleviate some of that anxiety for the patients and their family members while serving as an intern at Levine Children’s Hospital.
As soon as one walks through the front doors of Levine Children’s Hospital, he or she is greeted with bright colors and friendly faces, but what captures the most attention in the lobby is Seacrest Studios. Across the country in the nation’s top children’s hospitals, Ryan Seacrest has set up in-house radio and television stations which provide entertainment and an escape for the patients and their families. Children are welcome to come down to the studio, and those who are quarantined to their rooms can still be entertained by the music, celebrity guests, and TV broadcast. I was lucky enough to be hired as a Production Intern. My duties included creating and hosting an hour-long show, playing games, hosting guests/showcase the studio, visiting the children in their rooms, and trying my hardest to not say something inappropriate on air.
However, there is one responsibility with this internship that transcends all the others, and that is to treat every guest like a celebrity. If a patient, family member, or even a doctor comes into the studio, the world revolves around them. These kids and their families are our sole focus. Their happiness is paramount. In a world of scary diagnoses and homesickness, Seacrest Studios is a safe haven. That’s why everyone involved is constantly in an upbeat mood. Now, if you know me personally, you know I’m not exactly the most extroverted or over-the-top person, but, when I walked in the front door of that hospital, I changed. It didn’t matter if Charlotte traffic was awful, I was exhausted from the night before, or I absolutely hated the music being played. When I walked in the door, I transformed from Jake Selvey to “DJake.” This alter ego was there to chew bubblegum, play music from Moana, and dance like I had rhythm. But, here’s the thing: One day it wasn’t an alter ego anymore. It was just me and these kids, and they were all that mattered.
This internship held more complexities than just dancing to Party in the USA in front of a green screen. When a patient has been in the hospital for 8 months, it was not easy for them nor the parents to maintain a positive attitude the whole time. Some days were far more difficult than others. At Seacrest Studios, we weren’t just a production intern. We were someone to listen and to encourage. Sometimes, a parent just wants to talk about how stressful their lives have been or to brag about how well their child’s recovery is going. These are the most poignant and best moments.
While I loved every moment of my shows and perfecting my DJ voice, my favorite times were those when I was interacting with patients and their families. I was given the opportunity to connect with some of the strongest, kindest, and funniest people when they were at their most difficult point. The whole experience was nothing short of inspiring. The purpose of an internship is to provide experience and, hopefully, direction. I hit the jackpot. While I learned a great deal about the broadcast field, I honestly learned more about being thankful and not taking my good fortune for granted.
The best advice I can offer to anyone during an internship is to be upbeat. Meredith Dean, the Program Coordinator for Seacrest Studios, is extremely extroverted and even made me sing during my interview. This is to prove that I was willing to put myself out there because there are moments throughout this internship where I was forced out of my comfort zone. But don’t stress. This is a good thing. You will be doing yourself a favor by proving that you are comfortable with that.
This internship has taught me compassion, patience, how to be comfortable while acting like a fool, and how to master the best DJ voice the world has ever seen. If I’m being truthful, it taught me a lot more about myself.