Intern Chronicles

Intern Chronicles: Jessica Benson puts her USC studies into practice on ESPN’s SportsNation

Jessica Benson on the set of SportsNation in ESPN's LAPC. (Photo courtesy of Chris Luther)
Jessica Benson on the set of SportsNation in ESPN’s LAPC. (Photo courtesy of Chris Luther)

Editor’s note: Front Row’s Intern Chronicles series showcases ESPN’s summer interns. This is the first installment of 2013, written by communications intern Jordan Thomas.

Jessica Benson, a senior at the University of Southern California studying broadcast and digital journalism, is five weeks into her ESPN internship. She’s spending the summer just a short drive from the USC campus at ESPN’s Los Angeles Production Center where she works as a production intern with SportsNation.

Benson is responsible for developing video content, editing show segments, supporting production assistants and managing the teleprompter for the popular ESPN2 weekday show.

“Every day I come into SportsNation and I’m able to actively contribute to the show,” Benson said. “Whether cutting video for a segment or pitching content ideas in our creative meetings, I always feel like my opinion is valued and that I am a part of the SN team.”

Benson honed her production skills at USC’s student-run news station, Annenberg TV News. She also credits her professional growth to internship experiences at the Rose Bowl, NBC Nightly News and the 2012 London Olympics.

Although Benson enjoys what she does now, she did not always see herself working in production for a sports media entity.

“When I was five, I had high aspirations of becoming a hippopotamus when I grew up,” she said. “At eight, a prima ballerina. At 11, the first female in the NHL. At 13, standing at a towering five-feet, three-inches, I decided I would be a starting point guard in the WNBA.”

Apparently, Benson has found her calling through another “failed” career attempt.

At 17, Benson moved from her hometown of Highlands Ranch, Colo., to New Haven, Conn., where she enrolled in Yale University’s Conservatory for Actors.

However, Benson discovered the journey from acting school to movie superstardom was far from easy.

“The program demolished me and left me running in fear from the idea of living in the trunk of my car for the rest of my life,” she said.

But then, Benson learned why she wanted to become an actress in the first place.

“I realized I loved the art of telling a good story. I liked uncovering details,” said Benson, who hopes to become a sports reporter. “I liked being the voice people listened to when they wanted to find out information. That summer also affirmed that I am lost in a world that doesn’t involve sports.”

For more information on ESPN’s Internship Program, click here.

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