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Internships at the Philadelphia Union, PHL17, and elsewhere are helping prepare communication studies major for future in broadcasting.

Widener University senior Danielle Cardona still gets chills walking through the Philadelphia Union’s soccer stadium. It has nothing to do with the strong winds that whip around the pitch.

Located just a few miles from Widener’s Main Campus in Chester, the stadium offered Cardona, a communication studies major, with a front-row seat to a field she hopes to one day join.

Cardona spent six months as a video production intern for the Major League Soccer team. In a booth perched high above the field, she edited videos for television and online, and worked on video board graphics. On game days, Cardona was on the sidelines filming the action. 

The Union internship is one of four Cardona has had while at Widener; each providing invaluable experience in broadcasting, a field that captured her heart when she first arrived on campus.

Of course, broadcasting is not for the faint of heart. Two days each week this semester, Cardona awakens well before dawn to help the Philadelphia television station, PHL17, produce its 4:30 a.m. news broadcast. Cardona works behind the scenes and shadows reporters on assignment.

“I love applying what I’ve learned and seeing what it will be like,” she said. “I’m getting a lot of different experiences, which is what I’ve been striving for. The opportunities are at my fingertips.”

Widener’s communication studies department is focused on helping students like Cardona seize those opportunities to prepare them for careers in a highly competitive industry.

“Early on we ask students what internship they would love and what can you do to get it,” said Dr. Amy Franzini, associate professor and chair of the department. “Danielle is a perfect example of a student who comes in and hits the ground running.”

It starts with a curriculum that exposes students to a variety of communication subspecialties, from advertising/public relations to multimedia journalism. In this way, students “get a little of everything, so they can speak the language of everything,” said Franzini.

On campus, they hone their craft and build their resumes working on real-world projects – including ones with service learning components – and in state-of-the-art facilities – including the WUTV production studio where Cardona got her start.

“I had a chance to use the equipment my first week at Widener, and I use the same equipment in all my internships,” she said. “That’s beneficial when applying for positions.”

Students also benefit from the strong industry connections of their professors, the assistance of career services, and Widener’s location near major companies and institutions in Philadelphia.

Cardona describes her time at Widener as the “butterfly effect” – a series of small circumstances that have morphed into greater possibilities. For instance, her professor, Dr. Timothy Scepansky, had a connection with the Philadelphia Union, which led to his class touring the stadium. On that tour, Cardona seized the initiative and landed her internship there.

In turn, Cardona’s work with the Union resulted in her winning a national Inspire the Passion Award from the Information Display and Entertainment Association. That award came with an invitation to a conference where she had the chance to network with hundreds of broadcast professionals from major sports teams.

“If I didn’t come to Widener, I wouldn’t have these connections,” said Cardona.