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Lights, Camera, Action WBIR producer Katie Shands shows that getting the job is just the first step. by KATE McCLASKEY


atie Shands says she always aspired to be an actress, but she feared her dream was unrealistic. As her high school graduation approached, she shared her concerns with her mother and an alternate career path emerged: news reporting. A perfect blend of television and writing, it was a choice that combined two of Shands’ greatest passions. She now works behind the cameras as a full-time producer for WBIR-TV. But it was more than a passion for the industry that got her there. In early 2008, Shands began interning at the station, and by June, her boss had offered her a full-time Web writing and production position the station was creating. “I’ve always heard how hard the job hunt is after graduation, and it was such a good opportunity,” Shands says. “I didn’t want to pass it up.” Although she still had a semester left until she graduated, she chose to juggle both school and her new career. “On my worst days I would have class from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. and then I would come [to WBIR] from 4 p.m. to 1 a.m., and then I would have homework,” Shands says. “And I just kept thinking ‘I can do anything just for a few months.’” After months of long hours and little sleep, Shands knew it was worth it as she watched her peers furiously search for jobs. She already had a first job she was passionate about. “It’s the first time that I actually look forward to work and I feel fulfilled,” she says. Part of that fulfillment stems from the evolving nature of the news business. Like the media industry, her job is ever-changing. To keep up, she emphasizes continuing to hone her Web-related skills. After all, she says success in the field depends on keeping up with evolving technology and the increasing importance of the Web. According to Shands, acquiring a broad skills set is also important in staying ahead. “I just try to ask a lot of questions and learn as much as I can even if it’s not in my job description. And it’s a job that I can grow in.” Shands hopes to see even more growth in her career. Becoming a head producer would be a dream, she says. But for now, she’s simply looking forward to whatever comes next.

Photo contributed by Katie Shands

SCOOP Fall 2009 58

Summer 2009  
Summer 2009  

A magazine for the students, alumni, faculty and friends of the University of Tennessee College of Communication and Information.