Through NBC internship, K-State student experiences 2018 Winter Olympics
Shortly after the U.S. men’s curling team won gold in the 2018 Winter Olympics, first upsetting team Canada in the semifinals and finishing off Sweden in the final, a K-State student joined American Olympians in the U.S. clubhouse for the celebration.
“All the athletes come in and it’s a big party,” Braxton Jones said of the ensuing celebration. “In the house it’s very close and intimate, and you’re rubbing elbows with gold medalists. I was thinking, ‘Wow this is surreal.’”
Jones, a K-State senior from Wichita, spent most of February in South Korea helping NBC broadcast the 2018 Winter Olympics back home. While he was working as an intern and gaining experience in broadcast journalism, a career he intends to pursue when he graduates this May, he also experienced a trip of a lifetime, he said.
Jones worked as a production assistant for the primetime show with Mike Tirico, printed out scripts, made sure directors and producers had what they needed and helped in the control room. He also assisted guests and chauffeured them around set.
The internship helped Jones professionally because he was able to see some of the best in the business go about their jobs.
“They did a lot of great storytelling, as well,” he said. “Leading up to the games there were a lot of great feature stories, and you feel like you really know these athletes through these features. To be able to sit in on those and hear what kind of questions they ask, the writing that goes into everything and being able to sit in on gold medal interviews… You can sit on the wall in production meetings and learn so much.”
Jones is no a stranger to big internships. He has had seven throughout his college career, including working with the Kansas City Chiefs marking department and another with CBS This Morning.
“I think it all translates, no matter what level,” he said. “It’s still the basics. Obviously (working on) something as big as the Olympics and knowing the world is watching, it was very cool. You do see a difference in intensity and difference in preparation, but at the end of the day it’s still back to the basics.
“I was probably wide-eyed the whole time, just trying to pinch myself every day, but it was fun,” he said.
While covering ski jumping, Jones said he saw Norway win the gold medal right in front of the country’s fan section.
“I turned around with my camera and I just have vikings in my face, and I’m taking pictures,” he said. “It was pretty neat.”
For a month, it seemed liked political issues were tabled to allow the world to come together for something special.
“It just seemed like a breath of fresh air,” he said. “You are bringing people together through sport, and you are seeing these raw emotions: the laughs, the tears, the anger and the frustration. Just being able to see that, even just watching with the fans, in that setting was pretty cool.”
While Jones did not get to witness many big moments for the United States, he did enjoy one of the most significant moments of the entire Olympics when South Korea won its first gold medal of the 2018 Olympics in short-track speed skating.
Short-track is one of the more important Olympic events for the South Korean fans, according to the New York Times, which compared the event to South Korean fans as soccer is to Brazilian fans.
Jones said the stadium was sold out for the event, which included appearances from Moon Jae-in, South Korea’s president, and Mike Pence, the U.S. vice president.
“To hear when they crossed the line and it erupted, it’s almost like what you hear on a game days at Bill Snyder Family Stadium,” he said. “But it’s 100 times louder.”
Prior to the internship, Jones had never left the country.
“The culture shock was crazy,” Jones said.
While several Americans traveled to the Games for the internship, the NBC interns worked with South Korean interns, who showed the Americans around and helped them get used to their new surroundings.
Early in their trip, Jones said many of the interns struggled with eating utensils and other small things, but they were able to assimilate as time went on, even learning some of the language.
“It was amazing, honestly,” he said. “You kind of get that traveling bug to keep going to different places.”
While the interns were immersed in the South Korean culture, the Olympics also allows for the sharing of many different cultures at once. In one instance, he got on the elevator with broadcasters from France and Japan, who also shared their perspectives.
“You’re exposed to their cultures just for a little bit and it’s still encompassed by this South Korean culture shock,” he said.
“It was just an amazing experience,” he added. “It was just a great time and a lot of fun.”