Intern Chronicles

Intern Chronicles: Meet the original

Mike Soltys is shown in his work area back in January 1981.

Mike Soltys, Vice President of Domestic Networks in Communications, didn’t always have an office with a view or a team of staff.

In fact, his first “office” was in a trailer and his team of staff included himself and a typewriter.

Meet Soltys, ESPN’s first intern.

Soltys began his internship at ESPN in August 1980 as a senior at the University of Connecticut majoring in Communications.

A chance meeting with ESPN’s founder Bill Rasmussen in the parking lot at UConn helped secure his position.

“I went into a sales pitch saying that I’d like to intern for him, and in the middle of the sales pitch I said I’d work for free,” said Soltys.

“He then connected me with Rosa Gatti [Senior Vice President, Corporate Outreach] who hired me as an intern and as it turned out I was the first intern the company had.”

Interns today have a variety of multimedia tools at their disposal to finish tasks and assignments.

In a time before email and the Internet, Soltys had the U.S. Postal Service.

His assignments included writing news releases and feature stories to sorting out mail.

Soltys’ internship was originally only for the fall semester, however an opportunity to be hired that next summer prompted him to intern until the following May.

After graduation, Soltys was offered a full-time position as a staff assistant, or what would now be known as a publicist.

“It was a surprise that ESPN survived because of how much money the company was losing,” said Soltys.

“But everyone that started working here were believers in it. There was this optimism that this was a great idea, that this was going to work, and that we were going to work hard to make it work.”

Soltys’ optimism and hard work is what led to his progression through the company.

He gives the following guidance to all interns hoping to make impacts at their companies.

“Make a point of saying hello and sitting down with as many people that will do that with you,” said Soltys.

“Come in with enthusiasm and have your eyes wide open to whatever opportunity that gets presented your way and jump at it.”

That’s valuable advice from one former intern to the next.

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