Emma Bowen Foundation: You interned at Discovery for four summers, working with different engineering teams and the IT department. How did your role change over time there?
Njuguna Thande: Discovery was very open to me shifting departments, so my role changed to fill in gaps in my general engineering knowledge. First, I worked in system design with media engineering for two years, then software design with the IT department, and finally hardware design with facilities engineering. My diverse roles gave me a fuller understanding of an industry-level engineering operation.
EMF: Is there any specific experience at Discovery there that sticks out for you? A particular challenge or key takeaway?
The biggest thing I took away from working at Discovery was a much more thorough understanding of engineering as a whole. It gave me a much better picture of how all these teams had some connection to what I was studying.
My internships were never overly challenging but still engaging. Being a part of the engineering team, I did have a limited role. I couldn’t just order a shopping cart of $100,000 worth of equipment. But I could still be fulfilled despite not having the authority.
One of the biggest moments for me at Discovery was when the company completed the “Cloud Playout” project. This was a multi-year project that involved nearly every engineering team during its various phases. As an EBF intern, I was able to contribute to it from multiple angles through different teams. So, I felt a real sense of camaraderie when the company finally brought it to its conclusion.
How did EBF prepare you for a career in media?
Joining EBF has been the best decision I’ve made. I wouldn’t have understood so many aspects of media and media technology if I hadn’t decided to become a fellow. Knowing I can lean on them has kept me on track and stopped me from losing focus when things got tough. I couldn’t be more grateful to be a part of EBF.
Career-wise, EBF allowed me to take a deep dive into how a media company works. From my internships with Discovery and EBF, I gained a lot practical experience—how to network, how to manage my managers, and more. Working at Discovery year after year helped me nail down what I liked about engineering. It created a feedback loop that helped me chart out my path forward.
What advice do you have for students working toward a career in journalism or media?
Your first internship isn’t your last internship. Your first job isn’t your last job. Don’t give up and try to get the most you can out of it. The work you do is meaningful, but it’s more important to understand the people that you work with and how they work with you. Network with others, really talk to them, and figure out who they are.