From coding to CNBC

Computer science major Allie Martin hones technology and leadership skills in summer internship with broadcasting giant

Allie Martin has some advice for students hoping to work in the super-competitive entertainment industry: Add computer skills to your resume.

Martin always knew she wanted to work in film. Not sure how to break in, she asked the experts, including a talent director for “The Walking Dead” and the director of “RBG.” Both said, “Don’t do it.”

“I knew I was good at math,” Martin said. “I figured I could somehow work engineering into [my career goal]. And if not, engineering would be a great fallback.” She decided to major in computer science and psychology, with a minor in math.

Now a senior, Martin recently finished a summer internship with broadcasting giant CNBC. There, she honed her software development skills — and sat in on meetings with the CEOs of CNBC and NBC, as well as “Today Show” weather anchor Al Roker.

Working remotely with CNBC's project management office, she helped build platform enhancements for tracking growth, web traffic and other analytics. Being part of this team let her “see how ideas go from conception to execution.”

It also reinforced the relevance of her classes. Martin had learned about agile software development, where a new technology is created iteration by iteration instead of all at once. But she saw it in action daily at CNBC.

“One of the coding engineers talked about Eclipse [software] and I thought, ‘Oh, my gosh, I’ve worked in Eclipse,’” she said. “Hearing these terms come back was really cool.”

Martin’s supervisor at CNBC was senior project manager Devansh Vashishta. He was surprised, and pleased, with how quickly she picked up new technologies.

“There’s a ‘home-brewed’ project tracker that I developed myself,” Vashishta said. “I knew it was pretty cumbersome and complex, so I coached her through it. Then I asked her to take a shot at it and let me know when she was able to replicate it. Well, about three minutes later, Allie pinged me saying, ‘Here, check this out.’”

Vashishta also had her lead the intern team on occasion, with him serving as her coach and mentor. Martin was even tapped to write an article for CNBC’s "College Voices" series about struggles students have faced trying to get internships during the pandemic.

What would Martin say to VCU Engineering students seeking internships? Take ENGR 395, the one-credit professional development course for engineering students — and go for volume when putting in applications.

“I think I put in 260 applications in all,” she said. “It was time consuming and could be frustrating, at times. I was completely [dropped, with no communication] by one recruiter. But in the end, it was all so worth it.”

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