Student lands a competitive internship in New York City

Brennan Checkalski applied for more than fifty internships, but finding one was an uphill battle.
Abbey Goers | August 26, 2019

Brennan Checkalski chose UW-Stout for its Early Childhood Education program. But not long into his studies, he realized it wasn’t the right degree for him. He switched his major and found a new home in Professional Communication and Emerging Media (PCEM).

“The creative opportunities, freedom and my love for social media made PCEM the ideal scenario,” Checkalski said. “I feel like we have a little community of creatives that enjoy each other’s company.”

PCEM has strengthened Checkalski’s storytelling and narrative control. He’s learned how to make his content more engaging to his audiences, and how to communicate professionally between cultures and ethnicities.

Checkalski had the opportunity to further strengthen these skills during his internship in New York City over Summer 2019.


Fearless in the Face of the Unknown

Checkalski applied for more than fifty internships. Finding one was an uphill battle. But he managed to secure a highly competitive internship as the Video Communication Intern with the College Board in New York City.

“I didn’t really know what to expect,” Checkalski said. “I knew New York City would be far different from Menomonie. But I love the challenge of putting myself in situations and environments that I haven’t been in before.”



Real-World Experiences in Videography

Arriving at the College Board offices, Checkalski had the unique privilege of working directly next to the World Trade Center. His desk was on the 18th floor of their building with a view of the Hudson River and Lady Liberty.

As the Video Communication Intern for the College Board, Checkalski had a full job description. His tasks included editing videos, finding and filming b-roll, assisting producers and directors on area shoots, and setting up lighting equipment.

“I did anything they needed of me,” Checkalski said.


Checkalski gained real-world experience in professional and corporate media. Tasks like setting up a camera, lights, or remote shoots may seem simple. But Checkalski enjoyed learning the science behind his tasks.

“My internship has been very rewarding and essential to my growth,” Checkalski said. “And will no doubt allow me to navigate easily through my last year in the PCEM program at UW-Stout.”

Collaboration and Overcoming Isolation

The greatest skill Checkalski learned during his internship with the College Board was collaboration. While he feels being a creative can be isolating, having the opportunity to work with others helped improve his storytelling.

“I think just being around other storytellers and collaborators helps the creative process,” Checkalski said. “Collaboration may just make you do something to your project that you have never thought of.”

Checkalski wasn’t bothered he didn’t know anyone when he arrived in New York City. He spent a lot of time by himself. But his biggest challenge was meeting people.

He discovered the easiest way to overcome loneliness in a new city was to make himself accessible to new people and put himself in social situations.

“Just be yourself,” Checkalski said. “I met some great people.”

Chance Sightings of an Idol

Checkalski had the opportunity to see his creative idol Casey Neistat, a Youtuber and filmmaker. Checkalski walked past his idol’s public studio every day on his way to his internship.

His first day in the city, Checkalski was shooting a time-lapse video on the Lower West Side. Neistat jogged past the shoot.

“I only had the opportunity to yell ‘Casey!’ and wave,” Checkalski said. “He did wave back but kept on running.”

Checkalski saw his idol a second time on his way to play basketball. Neistat and his family walked out of their building right in front of Checkalski. Checkalski thought about asking Neistat for a picture but didn’t want to interrupt his family.

“It was awesome to see him though, and motivating,” Checkalski said.

Photo of New York City

A New Home

Over the summer, Checkalski explored New York City and the five boroughs. Compared to living in the Midwest, Checkalski found the city refreshing. And the fast-paced culture of Manhattan was beautiful. He felt a lack of judgment about what he was doing and when he was doing it.

“Everyone is going as fast as they can chasing a goal, trying to keep their head above water,” Checkalski said. “They don't have time to care about what you are doing. That sort of culture only pushes you harder to accomplish your goal. This city has a way of motivating you like nothing else.”

After living his dream in the city for ten weeks, Checkalski felt like an adopted New Yorker. 

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