ESPN CareersIntern Chronicles

Intern Chronicles: Rhoden Fellows

For years, ESPN President John Skipper and award-winning sports columnist William C. Rhoden discussed a sports journalism internship program focused on training students from Historically Black Colleges and Universities.

This year, ESPN announced the creation of this initiative through the Rhoden Fellowship program, with the inaugural class of interns working for The Undefeated in New York this summer.

The Rhoden Fellows have been involved in numerous aspects of The Undefeated, ESPN’s platform for exploring the intersections of race, sports and culture. Their experiences for the multimedia site have included reporting, photography and hosting their own podcast – which already had Stephen A. Smith as a guest.

Front Row asked the six Rhoden Fellows about their internship experiences.

Donovan Dooley, North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University

What are some of the projects you have worked on already?
One of the things I’ve had the privilege of working with is 3-on-3 basketball, which is going to the Tokyo Olympics, where the USA will have a team. We had the opportunity to go to practice before they left to compete in France. We talked to those players, got to do interviews and we got to see how that game is played. Another thing was working the New York Jets and Giants mini-camps, which was very cool. I got to see Odell Beckham Jr. and some other Jets and Giants players.

Isaiah Smalls, Morehouse College

What aspects of your internship have you most enjoyed?

One of the greatest parts about working here is the many different opportunities that are offered to you. For example, on June 26 I got to go to the NBA Awards and cover it from a social media perspective.

William Rhoden is a former New York Times sports columnist who is a columnist and editor-at-large for the The Undefeated. (Joe Faraoni/ ESPN Images)

For somebody like me, who is a big NBA fan, to be able to see James Harden, Russell Westbrook and all of them up close, it was amazing.
Although I was there to provide social media coverage, I was advised to ask questions during the press conference. Additionally, being on the red carpet was great practice in terms of learning how to succinctly talk to players and celebrities.

I talked to Vince Carter, Kemba Walker, Victor Oladipo, Charles Barkley, Draymond Green and Rudy Gay. I saw everybody from 2 Chainz to Von Miller, Drake, Bill Russell and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

Kyla Wright, Hampton University

What kind of impact do you hope to have on The Undefeated this summer?
At the age of 20, I’m one of the youngest writers for The Undefeated, and I want to prove that I have the ability to produce content just as someone twice my age. Giving a youthful vibe to the site, I work hard with the goal to break the stereotypes that students aren’t deemed professional because we don’t have our degrees yet. Why can’t I work in the professional world and work to get my degree? I can, and I will.

Miniya Shabazz, Grambling State University

How do you like working in New York?
I love interning in New York City. Coming from the Washington D.C. area, it’s a different vibe. Everyone in the office has been so welcoming, and that’s not something I would have expected at such a huge company like this, but everyone embraces you and is willing to teach you anything.

Paul Holston, Howard University

What does being a Rhoden Fellow mean to you?
For me, it’s a unique opportunity, not only to work with a legendary sports columnist [William C. Rhoden] under his mentorship, but it also gives me the opportunity to learn more about journalism at ESPN. Being at Howard University, that experience helped me get to this destination, and this has opened up a bigger platform to me in terms of learning about the media industry.

Simone Benson, Morgan State University

What are you most looking forward to during the rest of your summer internship?
I have grown a lot as a journalist in being able to be with my fellow fellows. We’ve bonded, and it has made me appreciate the field that I’m in. Also, I look forward to learning from Mr. Rhoden further and taking on everything that he is giving us.

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