Journalism grad makes dreams a reality with E! News, Telemundo internships

Jonathan F. McVerry
January 07, 2019

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — A week before classes began last spring, Catherine Rivera Chardon got a call that would change her semester plans in an instant. The call was from E! News offering an internship position. She would start in two weeks in Los Angeles.

Rivera Chardon was home in Puerto Rico and getting ready to fly to Florida to spend quality time with her father before the semester started. She had a schedule full of classes and was ready to return to Happy Valley. But then the senior journalism major had a decision to make: start school in one week or start her dream job in two weeks?

“I thought to myself, ‘This is happening,’” Rivera Chardon said. “I called the Bellisario College and switched my courses to World Campus … and I told my dad that I was going to California.”

Luckily, she was no stranger to the West Coast. Rivera Chardon had fallen in love with the Hollywood hills during the previous semester while interning for Telemundo 52 and its entertainment show, “Acceso Total.” The Puerto Rico native is fluent in Spanish and loves the entertainment business. So, interning for “Acceso Total” on one of the largest Spanish-language networks in the United States was a dream come true. 

“Everything I’ve done at Penn State has helped. The organizations I’ve been a part of and all of my intern experiences have been great."

— Catherine Rivera Chardon, 2018 journalism alumna

“It was a tough decision to not be here (University Park) last fall. It was my senior year and I was turning 21 and it was football season. Who wants to leave that?” she said. “But I wanted to go after my dreams and I knew if I said no, I would regret it.”

That is Rivera Chardon’s secret to the business. She is not afraid to take chances, volunteer to help or position herself to be in the right place at the right time — key qualities for making it in Hollywood. Graduating this past fall semester, she said the Bellisario College set the foundation, and now her innate talents will drive her to future success.

“Everything I’ve done at Penn State has helped,” she said. “The organizations I’ve been a part of and all of my intern experiences have been great. I co-hosted an entertainment show on CommRadio where we’d talk about all things pop culture — new album releases, movies, artists at the Bryce Jordan Center — it was a gateway for me and helped align me with what companies are looking for in an intern.”

Two summers ago, while completing an internship with NASCAR at Pocono Raceway, Rivera Chardon said her long-term goal was to be on television. Her top choices were E! News, Univision or to work with Ryan Seacrest.

She’s done nearly all three in less than two years.

Catherine Rivera Chardon - Mile 22

Journalism graduate Catherine Rivera Chardon works the room at the "Mile 22" premiere for “Acceso Total,” an entertainment show on the NBC Telemundo channel, this past August.

IMAGE: Submitted

“The talent coordinator calls me and asks if I want to cover a red carpet tomorrow,” Rivera Chardon said. “In my head I’m like ‘What? This is what I want to do for a living.’ But I played it cool — and of course said ‘yes.’”

The gala went well, and Rivera Chardon was asked to cover more events. Ever the opportunist, when the Latin American Music Awards were approaching, she offered to do background work like pick up cables and assist the producers. The “Acceso Total” producers had more in mind.

Rivera Chardon attended the awards and interviewed many of the VIPs there. She spoke with artists like Natalia Jimenez, Manuel Medrano and Wisin. “I can’t put into words how much Wisin’s music means to me and to Latinos in general. I literally grew up listening to his music,” she said.

 “I’m thinking, ‘What is happening?” Rivera Chardon said with a laugh. “Is this real?”

Talk show host Don Francisco, “the Ellen DeGeneres of the Latin World,” was in the “Acceso Total” studio and Rivera Chardon was asked to greet and assist him in the green room. This one was big.

“I am a huge fan and I grew up watching his show every Saturday with my grandmother. She made me love him. He is ‘the guy,’” she said. “I had to prepare mentally, keep it all in and be chill. He was so generous answering my questions. I networked with him and talked with his PR person. It was a great experience.”

When Francisco left, “I freaked,” she said. “I just met Don Francisco.”

As Rivera Chardon progressed through her internship experiences, she mastered the ability to keep her excitement in check. She maintained the professional aura that she hopes will guide her back to Los Angeles or Miami for a career. She interviewed actors like Mila Kunis, Jason Statham, Denzel Washington, Mark Wahlberg, among others, and displayed the calm, cool and fun demeanor of one of her inspirations, Ryan Seacrest.

Catherine Rivera Chardon

Journalism student Catherine Rivera Chardon poses by the E! News logo during her internship with the program in May. Rivera Chardon said the experience was a "career goal and dream" for as long as she can remember.

IMAGE: Submitted

Checking another box on her dream list, Rivera Chardon got to see Seacrest in action at an Academy Awards rehearsal. The Monday after the awards, she joined an E! News producer on a photo shoot at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles, which is where she got to meet Seacrest.

“Ryan is this happy guy who people can talk to,” she said. “Seeing how professional he is and seeing him work with (co-host) Kelly (Ripa), there is a lot I can learn from both of them. It taught me that this is what I want to do. I want to be just like them.”

For someone who got a taste of all of her dream jobs before graduation, Rivera Chardon has no intention of slowing down. She finished her senior capstone and graduated last semester, and now has a steady eye on returning to the West Coast or South Beach.

“I used to think New York was the dream place for me, but it’s not,” she said. “It’s LA or it’s Miami. “I love Los Angeles, and Miami is where Telemundo is, and it’s a short plane ride home to Puerto Rico.”

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated January 09, 2019