A Troy student recently applied for an internship and received a job offer at WSFA 12 News in Montgomery.
Samantha Kocan, a senior broadcast journalism major from Montgomery, who plans to graduate in December, began her search for an internship, a requirement for her major, and soon found herself applying to WSFA.
It made sense to apply for an internship there, she explained. She said she loves Montgomery, and since her family lives there, she would not have to pay for a place to live.
“I applied for WSFA, and they called me in for the internship interview, and I got the internship, and then a few weeks later, it somehow turned into a job,” she said.
A few days before Kocan’s interview, Jeff Spurlock, director of the Hall School of Journalism and Communication, received a call from Scott Duff, news director for WSFA.
“(Duff) said, ‘I’m looking for a reporter. Who do you have?’” said Spurlock. “And I said, ‘Well, the person I highly recommend, she’s going to be interning with you starting next week,’ and he said, ‘Oh, who is that?’ And I told him, ‘Well, Samantha Kocan.’”
Although Duff had not yet met Kocan, Spurlock told him about her work posted online and Duff soon offered her the position.
Aaron Taylor, the TV production coordinator of Troy, mentored Kocan when she worked with TrojanVision. He explained that it is common for him to receive calls from news directors asking for recommendations, but in his 15 years at Troy, he has not seen a student hired for an on-air position before graduating.
“Having (a news director) call me up and start asking questions about someone who wasn’t scheduled to graduate until December introduced a new set of circumstances because there were questions as to whether or not I felt that she’d be able to handle a load at school and do the job at the same time,” Taylor said.
“As long as she can work her schedule out, I think it’ll work out fine for her,” he told Duff.
Kocan has only a few elective classes and the internship left before she can graduate. With help from Troy and WSFA, she organized a way to begin working and taking the electives courses online over the summer. WSFA agreed to still give her credit for the internship.
Now that Kocan is working full time at WSFA, she goes by her screen name, Samantha Day, and works as an on-air news reporter and multimedia journalist.
“I absolutely love WSFA,” she said. “It’s been a station that I’ve watched since I moved to Montgomery when I was 5. And so, I grew up watching it, and to be able to work there is a dream.”
Each day, Kocan covers a new story in the Montgomery area and then edits the story into a package for use on TV and online. Along with her reporting work, she keeps a large social media presence to be able to quickly spread news and encourage followers to tune in on TV.
“I absolutely love it,” she said. “It’s kind of like two jobs in one, but you have to change with the everchanging world out there.”
“It’s endless,” said Spurlock, referring to Kocan’s career possibilities. “Samantha has so much potential. She’s very talented, very knowledgeable, very intelligent. She’s not going to stay in Montgomery, I can tell you that.
“If she puts in a good couple of years in Montgomery, puts together a good resume reel, does a lot of good stuff in the capital city, then somebody’s going to pick her up.”
Kocan attributes her skills to her experience at Troy.
“Freshman year, I got super-involved with Troy TrojanVision news, the news station down there, and they taught me everything that I know, and so did all the classes I took down at Troy,” she said. “I didn’t get that experience through an internship. I immediately transitioned from TrojanVision into a job, and I was prepared for it.”
TrojanVision gave her a chance to learn, gain experience and make mistakes before the real world, she said.
“You have to make those mistakes to learn, so I’m so happy that was there to teach me and guide me along the way so that I wouldn’t make those same mistakes in the real world,” she said.
“Sam is great,” Taylor said. “She was a hard worker. She may have been one of the best anchors we had down here. I mean, just her abilities on air and the stories she would do and her overall appearance was just good. And she had that TV personality, and it shown through everything she did. She was someone I could depend on.”
Looking to the future, Kocan said she can see herself at WSFA for a long time and encourages others to chase their dreams.
“Be as involved as you can be,” she said. “Get as much exposure to the business as you can. Make those connections because you never know when a job is going to knock on your front door.”