Pursuit of 'bigger purpose' drives senior communications major

August 28, 2019

(This is the 14th story in a series about Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications students completing summer internships.)

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Sure, it’s just the first week of the semester, an ease-into-the-routine time for some Penn State students, but Dejanae Gibson is busy. She likes it that way.

“Really, as a communications student, you have to be involved. In this industry, you have to be knowledgeable and well-rounded to know how all the little pieces work,” Gibson said. “Also, just being busy prepares you for this kind of work.

“It’s ideas, meeting and collaborating. Our industry is competitive. The more you are involved and networking and working, the better you’re going to be.”

Thanks to that approach, Gibson, a senior on schedule to graduate in December, is already positioned well to build her career. Her most recent accomplishment was a programming development summer internship with Discovery Inc. and HGTV in Knoxville, Tennessee.

She worked closely with program directors as they discussed the development of shows. That included pitch meetings, managing episodes, and working with screenings, rough cuts and fine cuts of shows. She also helped with acquisitions, collaborated on a competitive tracker (gathering information about what other networks were creating, and how those shows were rating), and was able to work on her own pitches.

“It was really good to learn about the network and the industry,” she said. “It was great to be a part of so many different aspects of things.”

Plus, Gibson was a fan of the networks before she ever started working there.

“I always watch 'House Hunters.' I really love 'Fixer Upper.' I’m a big fan of OWN,” she said. “And I obviously love Food Network. They’re more real-life TV, not reality TV. These are real families and real people. The networks’ big purpose really resonates with me.”

Gibson arrived at Penn State as a digital and print journalism major. Through a variety of opportunities she developed a love for creating content, and for television. Still, she explored.

She worked for Valley Magazine, assisted with the University-wide Student Programming Association, completed a production internship at a church, and got deeply involved with CommAgency, the student-driven production agency housed in the Bellisario College. She also earned support from the Gene and Fran Goodwin Journalism Scholarship because of her performance in the classroom.

As she begins her final semester on campus, Gibson’s eventual career path seems more focused on content creation than anything else. Again, she likes the longevity of TV and video. And that “bigger purpose” she mentioned about Discovery and HGTV applies to much of what she does in her personal life.

She’ll be a student director for CommAgency this fall and wants to parlay what she’s learned to make that group even better. She hopes to add experiences with PSN-TV and WPSU to her repertoire this fall as well.

“I never want to do something where I am not impacting someone else’s life in a positive way,” she said. “It’s really part of the reason I picked Penn State in the first place. I looked around and saw Penn State people were getting jobs and making a difference, and that really had an impact on me.

“When I first got on campus it just felt like I was supposed to be here. I really enjoyed the experiences I’ve had. Penn State has led me on the path I’m on.”

Last Updated August 28, 2019