Engineering Careers on TAP

With help from NABEF and iHeartMedia, tech apprentice has a taste of the business
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Rachel Torres

Rachel Torres

Readers of Radio World, thank you for stopping by. My name is Rachel Torres, and I am a participant in the NAB Education Foundation’s 2018 Technology Apprenticeship Program.

A native of Kernersville, N.C., I started attending Forsyth Technical Community College in Winston-Salem in August 2016. I was fresh out of high school and had been taking radio broadcasting courses for the last two years at the Career Center, an extension of our county’s public high school system.

My heart was set on production, and in my second-to-last-semester of college, I completed a production internship at a local radio station. During that time it dawned on me that while I loved production, I couldn’t see myself doing it for the rest of my life. Something had changed.

NEW OPPORTUNITY

I had always been more interested in the science behind broadcasting. I desired a deeper understanding of the industry. That curiosity led me to enter “Broadcast Engineering Programs” into a search engine one day during class, though I figured I was grasping at straws. I had paid out of pocket for college and had managed to accumulate no debt along the way — I knew if I went back to school that would change, and I simply didn’t have the time.

What appeared in my search results, however, said otherwise. I discovered the NABEF’s Technology Apprenticeship Program, and I applied as soon as the application period opened, left afterwards with a four-month waiting period.

During that time, without knowing if I’d get into the TAP Program, I began making plans for a post-graduation career. I applied to be a P.S. Communications Operator for the city, another career path that had been on my heart for some time. During that process, however, something interesting happened.

At the end of February, I received an email: I had been accepted into the program. My course was once again diverted, but I jumped on the opportunity.

TAP kicked off in April at the NAB Technology Show in Las Vegas. Eight other participants and I were flown out from different corners of the United States to meet each other there for the first time. We spent a week together, learning from industry experts, getting to experience the latest innovations in broadcast technology first hand, and preparing for our final project, a live webcast we will complete in September at NAB headquarters in Washington, D.C.

In the following months, each of us were placed at a local broadcast station near our hometown. This was the beginning of our two-month paid apprenticeship in June and July. The experience allows participants to shadow supervising engineers and learn the basics of the industry in a hands-on way.

The Society of Broadcast Engineers also works with NABEF’s TAP, giving participants access to study/training materials by which they can acquire their certification as a Broadcast Technologist.

As I complete my broadcast engineering apprenticeship at iHeartMedia in Greensboro, N.C., I will share with you insights from my experience, as well as how the program has helped me network, build on my skills and view my career goals with more clarity.

My apprenticeship has dropped me headfirst into the middle of the chaotic sea that is broadcast engineering, and I’ve loved every minute of it. I will always want to learn more. Whether or not I end up pursuing engineering as a full-time career is yet to be determined. But the skills that I have and will continue to acquire in this program are invaluable and will serve me wherever I go from here.

I hope to see you along the way. Thank you for reading, and I look forward to sharing more with you about my experience.

Next time: Impressions on the job.

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I built the Knight kit from Allied Radio and ran station WJD (DJ backwards) from my home in a Cleveland suburb for a year in 1956–57.I operated from 4 until 11 p.m. every Monday, offering a variety of programming.